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2016-’17 Week 15 Big Ten Power Rankings: Minnesota Rises

Check out BTP's power rankings for the Big Ten.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With just a few weeks left in the regular season, pressure is building across the league. Now is the time when teams seal their postseason fate, one way or another. It’s the “do or die” part of the season when fans see which teams are for real.

And where does that leave things for the Big Ten this week? We’ll have to take a look at the power rankings below to see where things fit.

The BTPowerhouse Power Rankings are composed entirely of my evaluation of the teams at this moment and their current momentum. This isn’t a projection of where I believe each team will finish, but rather, just a snapshot of where teams are trending across the league at the moment.

With that, here are BTPowerhouse's week 15 Big Ten power rankings.

Big Ten Week 15 Power Rankings

#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (--)

The Boilermakers remained in the top spot this week after blowout wins at home over Rutgers and Michigan State. Both wins were expected, but both came in impressive fashion and pushed Purdue to 22-5 overall and 11-3 in league play.

With wins over Maryland and Wisconsin already this season, Purdue has played itself into excellent position to grab either the one or two seed in this year’s Big Ten Tournament. Of course, if Purdue can finish strongly it would also be a big boost for the team’s hopes of moving into a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Purdue will begin its final stretch with back-to-back road games against Penn State on Tuesday and Michigan on Saturday. Considering that Wisconsin is tied with Purdue in the Big Ten standings, both of these need to be wins for the team’s Big Ten title hopes.

#2 - Wisconsin Badgers (--)

The Badgers were looking to rebound this week after losing at home to Northwestern and had mixed results in reaching that effort. Wisconsin began by losing on the road to Michigan on Thursday night, but followed it up with a huge home win against Maryland. The split pushed Wisconsin to 22-5 overall, 11-3 in the Big Ten, and a tie with Purdue for first in the Big Ten standings.

Wisconsin hasn’t played all the well over the last few weeks, but the Badgers are still in a position to win the Big Ten, grab a one seed in the Big Ten Tournament, and move into a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, with the recent losses to Northwestern and Michigan, the margin for error reduced significantly.

This week, Wisconsin will get tricky road games against Ohio State on Thursday and Michigan State on Sunday. Like Purdue, these both need to be wins if Wisconsin is hoping to come home with the Big Ten crown this season.

#3 - Maryland Terrapins (--)

The Terrapins had arguably the toughest slate of any Big Ten last week with Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and Wisconsin on the road on Sunday. Maryland split those games with a huge win at Northwestern, but lost to the Badgers on Sunday afternoon. The split left Maryland at 10-4 in league play.

Realistically, Maryland’s Big Ten title hopes ended when the team lost to Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon. The Terps may only be one game back in the standings, but with Purdue and Wisconsin now ahead a full game, making up that margin on both without a head-to-head opportunity is going to be tough with just four games remaining.

Maryland will begin that effort with two manageable home games this week. The Terps will get Minnesota on Wednesday and Iowa on Saturday. Considering that Maryland figures to be a solid favorite heading into both those games, this week should be a great opportunity for Maryland to add two nice wins to its resume.

#4 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)

The Golden Gophers are red hot. After undergoing a five-game losing streak in January, Minnesota has now won five in a row. The latest two wins came at home against Indiana on Wednesday and Michigan on Sunday evening. This recent uptick pushed Minnesota to 20-7 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play.

Minnesota will look to continue that positive momentum with Maryland on the road on Wednesday and Penn State at home on Saturday. A win over either team should remove any doubt that Minnesota will make the NCAA Tournament this season.

#5 - Northwestern Wildcats (-1)

Heading into last week, Northwestern faced arguably the biggest week in program history. The Wildcats sat at 19-6, coming off a huge road win against Wisconsin, and likely just a win away from realistically locking up an NCAA Tournament bid.

While things got off to a rocky start with a loss to Maryland on Wednesday, Northwestern rebounded on Saturday with a huge win over Rutgers. While a win over the Scarlet Knights normally wouldn’t be something significant, it was this time.

Not only did the win over Rutgers push the Wildcats to that magical 20-win mark, but it also got the team’s last potential bad loss off the schedule. Those are both huge achievements for any team looking to make the NCAA Tournament. And even more special for a Northwestern program looking to make it for the first time.

The Wildcats will now look to build on the team’s 20-7 record with road matchups against Illinois and Indiana this week. There’s little debating that a win in either game would remove all doubt about Northwestern receiving an NCAA Tournament bid.

#6 - Michigan Wolverines (--)

The Wolverines continue to look improved, but had mixed results this week with a home win against Wisconsin on Thursday and a road loss to Minnesota on Sunday. The split left Michigan at 17-10 overall and 7-7 in Big Ten play.

Michigan is still in relatively good shape to make the NCAA Tournament, but with just four games left, time is running out to score some more wins. The Wolverines will get Rutgers on the road on Wednesday and Purdue at home on Saturday. Michigan desperately needs to win at least one of these two games.

#7 - Michigan State Spartans (--)

The Spartans were another team that had a mixed week after beating Ohio State at home on Tuesday and falling on the road to Purdue on Saturday. The split left Michigan State at 16-11 overall and 5- 6 over the team’s last 11 games.

Michigan State will get a massive set of games this week with Nebraska at home on Thursday and Wisconsin at home on Sunday. Considering how badly Michigan State has played on the road as of late (the team’s final two games are on the road), the Spartans really need to find a way to win both of these games, or at least split.

#8 - Penn State Nittany Lions (--)

The Nittany Lions only had one game this week and came up short in it on the road against Nebraska on Tuesday. The loss dropped Penn State to 14-13 overall and 6-8 in the Big Ten. It also left the team with a bit of an uphill climb to make the NIT.

Penn State will get two challenging games this week with Purdue at home on Tuesday and Minnesota on the road on Saturday. Considering that Penn State will head into both matchups as a significant underdog, even a split would be huge this week.

#9 - Indiana Hoosiers (--)

After three straight losses, Indiana had its back against the wall heading into last week. Unfortunately, things got even worse as Indiana lost its only game on the road against Minnesota on Wednesday. The loss dropped Indiana to 15-12 overall, 5-9 in the Big Ten, and outside the NCAA Tournament picture with ground to make up.

Indiana will get its two most manageable remaining games this week with a road game against Iowa on Tuesday and a home game against Northwestern on Saturday. Even one loss would realistically doom Indiana’s at-large NCAA hopes.

#10 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)

The Illini only had one game this week and rebounded well with a nice road win over Iowa on Saturday afternoon. The win pushed Illinois to 15-12 overall, 5-9 in the Big Ten, and 2-1 over the team’s last three games.

Illinois will now look to continue that momentum this week with two manageable games. The first will come at home against rival Northwestern and the second will come on the road against an inconsistent Nebraska squad. Two wins could do wonders for the team’s Big Ten Tournament seeding.

#11 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)

The Hawkeyes only had one game last week and dropped it at home against Illinois on Saturday. The loss was a huge hit to Iowa’s NIT hopes and was just the team’s second home loss since early December.

Iowa will look to get things back on track this week with a home game against Indiana on Tuesday and a road game against Maryland on Saturday. The Hawkeyes figure to be underdogs in both games. As such, even a split would be a solid performance.

#12 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)

The Cornhuskers had two games last week and came away with two wins. The first came at home against Penn State on Tuesday and the second came on the road against Ohio State on Saturday. The two pushed pushed Nebraska to 6-8 in league play.

Nebraska will get two more challenging games this week with Michigan State on the road on Thursday and Illinois at home on Sunday. The Cornhuskers are another team that will be looking to move up in the Big Ten Tournament seeding in the final few weeks of the regular season. Perhaps Nebraska can even start a run into March.

#13 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-2)

The Buckeyes had two games last week and came up short in both, losing on the road to Michigan State on Tuesday and at home against Nebraska on Saturday. The two losses ended any fringe at-large NCAA hopes for Buckeye fans.

Ohio State only has one game this week and it will come at home on Thursday night against Wisconsin. This will be an opportunity for the team to finish on a positive note and help the team’s seeding for the Big Ten Tournament.

#14 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (--)

The Scarlet Knights had two games this week and lost both. The first came on the road against Purdue on Tuesday and the second came on the road against Northwestern on Saturday. The first was a blowout, but the second was a tight game where Rutgers almost had the team’s best win of the season.

Rutgers only has one game this week and it will come at home against Michigan on Wednesday. A win could be huge for the team’s momentum and confidence heading into the offseason.