As most college basketball fans know, the weeks surrounding Christmas are generally pretty quiet. Most teams take extended breaks and, when teams do play, it’s often against weak opponents at home. One would have to guess that more than 80 percent of Power Five games during this period come against teams outside the top 100.
However, even though the schedule looked pretty underwhelming on paper, Big Ten fans got a few shocks over the last few days. Teams like Indiana and Rutgers got upset and others, like Iowa, scored solid wins.
As such, let’s take a look at the latest Big Ten power rankings.
Big Ten Week Seven Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan State Spartans (--)
The Spartans played twice over the last nine days and came away with two easy wins over Houston Baptist and Long Beach State at home. Generally speaking, there is absolutely nothing to take away from these games. Both opponents were terrible and Michigan State demolished each opponent in easy fashion. Nothing surprised.
This week, Michigan State will move on to face two more easy opponents at home. The first will be Cleveland State on Friday and the second will be Savannah State on Sunday. Both opponents are rated outside the top 290 teams on KenPom.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (--)
The Boilermakers only had one game last week and walked to an easy win over Tennessee State at home on Thursday. Similar to what happened with Michigan State, there really isn’t anything to take away from that game. It was over early and Purdue got to use its bench for extended minutes.
Purdue will only get one game this week and it comes at home against Lipscomb on Saturday. However, while this sounds like an easy matchup, don’t sleep on it. The Bisons are rated inside the top 125 on KenPom and are 9-4 on the season. If Purdue comes in and puts in little effort, it could be a trap game.
#3 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terrapins only had one game last week and scored a 25-point victory over Fairleigh Dickinson at home on Thursday. While the game was against a terrible opponent, Maryland did see six players score double-digits in the matchup. A statistic that certainly showcases Maryland’s impressive depth.
Maryland will now move on to face UMBC at home on Friday. This will be the team’s final tuneup game before it dives into the heart of Big Ten play. And considering that the Terps have one of the trickier slates in January, fans will hope the team can end this month with some momentum.
#4 - Ohio State Buckeyes (--)
The Buckeyes were one of the few teams in the league with a quality opponent last week. Ohio State faced the Citadel on Tuesday, but got a marquee matchup against North Carolina in New Orleans on Saturday. While the team beat its easier opponent, it fell short against the Tar Heels over the weekend.
Perhaps the biggest issue for Ohio State against North Carolina was its underwhelming defensive performance. The Tar Heels shot 40.6 percent from two-point range and an impressive 52.0 percent from deep. Even with 26 points from Keita Bates-Diop, the team wasn’t able to overcome those poor defensive numbers.
Ohio State is now 10-4 and will close out non-conference play against Miami (OH) at home on Saturday. While the Buckeyes couldn’t get a marquee non-conference win, it’s hard to complain about the team’s performance so far given the program’s poor preseason expectations.
#5 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (--)
The Golden Gophers got Oral Roberts and Florida Atlantic at home last week and scored relatively easy wins in both games. While Oral Roberts put up more of a fight than most expected, Minnesota still scored a 14-point win over the Golden Eagles. The two wins pushed the team to 11-3 overall on the season.
Minnesota will now get one of the Big Ten’s toughest remaining non-conference games this week with Harvard at home on Saturday. Given Minnesota’s recent play against inferior opponents, expect this one to be a battle.
#6 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
The Wolverines only had one game this week and it came at home against Alabama A&M on Thursday. The matchup was over just a few minutes into the first half and Michigan cruised to a 97-47 win. Michigan will move on to face Jacksonville at home on Saturday. This is another horrendous opponent that Michigan should beat easily.
#7 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats had two intriguing games this week with Lewis at home on Tuesday and Oklahoma on the road on Friday. Northwestern won easily in the first matchup, but got blown out in the second matchup against the Sooners. The game was never competitive and players like Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh played terribly.
Northwestern will get one more non-conference game against Brown at home on Saturday. However, it’s hard to feel good about where the Wildcats sit heading into January. The team might not have any terrible losses, but it doesn’t have any marquee wins and has gotten blown out by Oklahoma and Texas Tech already.
Most simply put, Northwestern is now looking at an uphill battle for an NCAA Tournament bid after its lackluster non-conference performance. KenPom projects the Wildcats at 18-13 overall right now, which would be well short of the field. Northwestern needs to get to work.
#8 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+3)
The Huskers had two games last week and moved to easy victories over UTSA on Wednesday and Delaware State on Friday. The two wins pushed Nebraska to 9-5 overall. Nebraska will get back in action on Friday against Stetson at home.
#9 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-2)
The Nittany Lions have been one of the league’s more intriguing teams this season. Despite lacking any marquee wins, Penn State had jumped out to a 9-3 overall record entering last week and had looked the part of an improved team. The verdict was still out on if Penn State could make the Tourney, but the progress was tangible.
And those questions were expected to maintain through this week as well. While Penn State had two home games during the week, both came against weak opponents. Binghamton would come first on Tuesday and Rider would come on Friday. Neither opponent had looked all that great so far this season.
Things got off to a good start with a win over Binghamton, but Penn State fell flat on its face on Friday, losing at home to Rider. It was a devastating loss that obliterated much of what Penn State did over the course of the season.
Penn State will hope it can recover against Coppin State at home on Saturday, but it won’t be able to make up for that Rider loss until January. Penn State now enters Big Ten play with (at least) one bad loss and no good wins. And with how things are going, that loss to Wisconsin at home may end up being a bad one as well.
#10 - Wisconsin Badgers (+2)
The Badgers had one game last week and scored a win against Green Bay at home on Saturday. The win pushed Wisconsin to 6-7 overall. Wisconsin will have two more ‘buy’ games this week with Chicago State on Wednesday and UMass Lowell on Saturday.
#11 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)
The Illini only had one game last week, but scored a huge win over Missouri on Saturday. It was easily Illinois’ best win of the season and pushed the team’s record to 9-5 overall. While Illinois is still a longshot for any postseason appearance, Saturday’s win will at least put some positivity into this season.
Illinois will face Grand Canyon at home next Saturday to close out non-conference play. The Antelopes are a decent unit and should put up a fight.
#12 - Indiana Hoosiers (-3)
The Hoosiers were another team that had a disastrous last nine days. Indiana started it by getting blown out at home against Fort Wayne. Things got back on track on Thursday against Tennessee Tech, but it’s hard to feel good about this team after losing to two in-state mid-majors already this season.
Indiana will get Youngstown State at home on Friday and will hope to get back on track then. The Hoosiers will be substantial favorites in that game.
#13 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+1)
The Hawkeyes had two games last week and scored wins against Southern Utah and Colorado. And while Colorado isn’t an elite opponent, it is good enough to help boost Iowa’s resume heading into January. The two wins pushed Iowa’s record to 8-6 overall. The team will close out non-conference play against Northern Illinois on Friday.
#14 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-4)
The Scarlet Knights only had one game last week and it came against Stony Brook at home on Friday. And considering that Rutgers was coming off a huge upset of Seton Hall the week earlier, hopes were high.
Unfortunately, Rutgers fell on its face and got upset by Stony Brook. It was a crushing loss for a program that appeared to be turning the corner. Even if the team does appear to be making progress, much of that positivity evaporated with the loss to Stony Brook last week.
Rutgers will now move on and is set to face Hartford at home on Thursday. Obviously, a loss there would be devastating.