While last week wasn’t a fun one for the conference, it was a great one for college basketball. The holiday tournaments contained a plethora of intriguing matchups, including Arizona against Purdue and Michigan State against North Carolina. Those two games sounded more like Elite Eight matchups than November games.
Given all of this great action, we now have a much better look at the Big Ten and where it should be heading this season. As such, let’s take a look at BTPowerhouse’s latest power rankings.
Big Ten Week Three Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan State Spartans (+1)
The Spartans looked shaky to open the season. The team struggled to find consistent play against lower tier opponents and lost a frustrating game to Duke in the Champions Classic. Fans believed that the Spartans would figure things out, but we didn’t know when and/or how the team might turn the corner.
Well, it appears Michigan State has figured things out.
Michigan State headed to Portland to play in the Phil Knight Invitational and absolutely dominated. The Spartans knocked off DePaul on Thursday, Connecticut on Friday, and then stomped North Carolina on Sunday night. In fact, Michigan State held North Carolina to one of its worst offensive outputs of the modern era.
What was perhaps most impressive about last week’s performance is that it all came with a limited Miles Bridges. Last year’s team would have had no chance under those circumstances. This time, however, Michigan State grabbed three nice wins.
This week, Michigan State will get a red hot Notre Dame at home on Thursday night and will open up Big Ten play on Sunday with Nebraska at home. That game against the Irish figures to be really exciting and could cement Michigan State’s position as one of the nation’s best teams.
#2 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)
The Golden Gophers may be flying under the radar, but make no mistake, Minnesota is for real this season. Minnesota added three more wins to its resume last week after taking down Alabama A&M at home and UMass and Alabama on a neutral courts over the weekend. The three wins push Minnesota to 7-0 overall on the season.
Although many will focus on the bizarre nature of the team’s win over Alabama on Saturday evening (it was insane, for the record), Minnesota has already proven itself to be one of the nation’s better teams. The Golden Gophers already have two wins over top 30 teams on KenPom and neither came at home. That’s more than enough to show that Minnesota is a quality squad.
Minnesota will now get a huge game against Miami (FL) on Wednesday and Rutgers at home on Sunday. Two wins would continue to build what is already looking like one of the league’s better resumes.
#3 - Maryland Terrapins (+1)
The Terps went 2-1 this week, but had a mixed week of success. Maryland was able to beat Jackson State at home and New Mexico on a neutral court, but fell to St. Bonaventure in a close game on Saturday evening. Despite controlling the vast majority of the game, Maryland let it slip away late. It was the team’s first loss.
While the St. Bonaventure game did show some cracks (turnover and three-point shooting concerns, in particular), Maryland is still a talented team that has shown it can win some big games. It’s also one that should improve considering how many underclassmen see major minutes. How and when Darryl Morsell recovers from injury could also tell a lot about the Terps.
This week, Maryland will get three challenging games with Syracuse on the road on Monday, Purdue at home on Friday, and Illinois on the road on Sunday. The first two are both against quality opponents that could easily take down the Terps and the third is a road game. Going at least 2-1 will have to be the goal.
#4 - Purdue Boilermakers (-3)
The Boilermakers took a nosedive this week after stinking it up on the team’s trip to the Bahamas. Although it seemed likely that Purdue would drop at least a game on the trip, few would have predicted that Purdue would drop consecutive games to Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Even with a win over Arizona on Friday, it was still a rough week for the Boilermakers.
Purdue will have a great opportunity to get back on track this week with Louisville at home on Tuesday, Maryland on the road on Friday, and Northwestern at home on Sunday. Realistically, Purdue fans should hope for two wins, but three wins would do wonders for getting the team’s postseason hopes back on track.
#5 - Wisconsin Badgers (--)
The Badgers actually had a bit of a rough week. The team headed out to Kansas City and dropped back-to-back games against Baylor and UCLA. Although the Badgers did get back on track on Friday against Milwaukee, Wisconsin now sits at 3-3 overall. Close games continue to slip away from the Badgers.
It’s hard to get too optimistic about a 3-3 team, but Wisconsin has had one of the tougher schedules of ‘brand name’ programs so far, with three games against top 40 teams on KenPom and two more against top 170 teams. As such, things should improve as the schedule gets a bit easier.
Unfortunately for Badger fans, things will remain challenging this week. Wisconsin gets Virginia on the road on Monday before a home game against a rising Ohio State team on Saturday. It will be one of two pretty important matchups between the Badgers and Buckeyes during next weekend.
#6 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+3)
The Nittany Lions have yet to beat a legitimate opponent, but still had a solid week. Penn State opened the week with a win over Pitt on Monday, dropped a game to a talented Texas A&M squad on Tuesday, and rebounded with a blowout win over Oral Roberts on Friday. Penn State now sits at 6-1 overall.
For Penn State, the question is how the team will perform against solid-to-good opponents. Considering that Texas A&M is ranked fifth nationally by KenPom, losing that game isn’t exactly a surprise. However, what can Penn State do against teams that fall somewhere between 25 to 100? That will tell how this season goes for the team.
Well, the good news is that fans will get their answer this week. Penn State gets North Carolina State on the road on Wednesday and Iowa on the road on Saturday. Two wins would go a long way toward legitimizing the Nittany Lions.
#7 - Northwestern Wildcats (--)
The Wildcats only had one game last week and it came at home against Sacred Heart on Friday. To little surprise, Northwestern cruised to a victory and pushed the team’s record to 4-2 overall on the season.
This week, Northwestern will get a tricky Georgia Tech team on the road on Tuesday, arch-rival Illinois at home on Friday, and Purdue on the road on Sunday. This is a huge opportunity for Northwestern to show its early season struggles have been put in the rear-view mirror. The Wildcats need to shoot for at least two wins this week.
#8 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
The Wolverines traveled to Maui this week and got some mixed results. The team let a game slip away against LSU on Monday night, but rebounded with wins against Chaminade and VCU. Michigan then returned home and took down UC Riverside at home in blowout fashion on Sunday afternoon.
While Michigan still has some significant issues, it does appear to be trending in the right direction. Fans will see how much the Wolverines have grown this week with North Carolina on the road on Wednesday and Indiana at home on Saturday.
#9 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)
The Buckeyes may have gone 1-2 in the team’s trip out west for the Phil Knight Invitational, but there were encouraging signs. Ohio State looks like it has improved substantially off last season and could be a wild card in this year’s Big Ten.
Things opened up with a loss to Gonzaga on Thursday, but Ohio State recovered with a win over Stanford on Friday and a narrow loss to Butler on Sunday. In fact, Ohio State outplayed Butler for most of the afternoon before losing the game in overtime.
Ohio State will now get Clemson at home on Wednesday and Wisconsin on the road on Saturday. The Buckeyes need to hope to go at least 1-1 in those two games.
#10 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+1)
The Illini may not have played a good opponent to this point in the season, but Illinois is 6-0 with most of those wins coming in comfortable fashion. Last week, Illinois added wins over Augustana (IL) and North Carolina Central at home.
Fans will now finally get a better idea of what Illinois is this week with Wake Forest on the road on Tuesday, Northwestern on the road on Friday, and Maryland at home on Sunday. Illinois is considered an underdog in all three games by KenPom, so stealing at least one needs to be the goal.
#11 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-5)
The Hawkeyes easily had the worst week of any Big Ten team. After entering the season with so much optimism, Iowa dropped games against Louisiana Lafayette and South Dakota State to open the week. But for a narrow win against UAB on Wednesday, Iowa would have gone 0-3 against underwhelming opponents.
Iowa’s issues so far this season have primarily come on the defensive end of the floor, but have been accompanied by mental errors as well. The Hawkeyes are outside the top 100 in defensive efficiency and have struggled with free throw shooting and turnovers. Unless these issues improve, this could be a rough season. Fans are hoping that Nicholas Baer’s return can at least assist in these areas as well.
This week, Iowa will get Virginia Tech on the road and Penn State at home. While we’re still only in November, it fells like Iowa’s season could be quickly slipping away. Iowa needs to be at least one of these two games.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (--)
The Scarlet Knights are another team that has yet to play any quality competition so far this season. Last week, Rutgers pushed its record to 6-0 after taking down Bryant and East Carolina at home. Both teams were outside the top 200 on KenPom.
However, this week, things will get far more intriguing for Rutgers. The team will face Florida State at home on Tuesday and Minnesota on the road on Sunday. Rutgers will be an underdog in both matchups.
#13 - Indiana Hoosiers (+1)
The Hoosiers still have a long way to go to reach preseason expectations, but things do appear to be moving in the right direction. Indiana scored home wins against Arkansas State and Eastern Michigan last week and moved up to No. 77 on KenPom. That’s 15 spots higher than where the team was even a week ago.
This week, Indiana gets Duke at home on Wednesday and will travel to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines on Saturday. Indiana fans will have to hope that Archie Miller can pull off some magic to get a win in at least one of these games.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Huskers traveled to Kissimmee, Florida this week and came home with underwhelming results. Nebraska opened with a loss to UCF on Thursday, but recovered with wins against Marist and Long Beach State over the weekend. As a result, Nebraska now sits at 5-2 overall.
Nebraska will now move on to an even more challenging slate this week, with Boston College at home on Wednesday and Michigan State on the road on Sunday. The Huskers are a narrow favorite against the Eagles and will be hoping for a win.