Week 16 AP Poll:
#14 - Purdue
#16 - Wisconsin
#24 - Maryland
Others receiving votes - Northwestern (25), Minnesota (5) and Michigan (1)
Week 16 Coaches Poll:
#14 - Purdue
#15 - Wisconsin
#24 - Maryland
Others receiving votes - Northwestern (19)
Neither poll sported any big surprises among the Big Ten teams this week. Purdue (22-5, 11-3) moved up after another strong week, while Wisconsin (22-5, 11-3) and Maryland (22-5, 10-4) dropped after each went 1-1 last week. However, one thing to take away from the polls this week is how far Purdue has risen and can still go.
After picking up a couple of easy wins this past week, Purdue climbed two spots in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll. Purdue’s No. 14 ranking in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll is the highest of the season in both polls for the Boilermakers. This is great news for the Boilermakers as they are starting to receive more national attention at the right time of the year.
Purdue will have a chance to continue climbing the polls with road trips to Penn State and Michigan this week. If the Boilermakers pick up wins in both of those games there is a chance they’ll crack the top 10 next week. While the polls don’t play a direct role in the NCAA Tournament seeding, if Purdue finishes in the top 10 then there’s a great chance they’ll claim at least a 3 or 4 seed if not higher.
Despite picking up an impressive win over Maryland on Sunday, Wisconsin dropped again in each of the polls. The Badgers fell five spots in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll. Prior to knocking off the Terrapins, the Badgers had lost back-to-back games causing their dropping in each ranking. The fall in both polls seems justified to me. The Badgers weren’t at full strength when they lost to Michigan last week, but top 10 teams win those kinds of games. A spot in the mid teens seems just about right for this Badgers team right now.
Maryland experienced an up-and-down week with an impressive road victory over Northwestern on Wednesday prior to Sunday’s defeat in Madison. And because of that the pollsters didn’t punish the Terps too badly. Maryland dropped just one spot in the AP Top 25 and remained the same in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Again, this comes as no surprise and seems about right for the Terps right now in my opinion.
Northwestern, Minnesota and Michigan also received votes in the polls this week, with the Wildcats receiving votes in both polls. Northwestern (20-7, 9-5) received 25 votes in the AP Top 25 to fall two spots outside the rankings and 19 votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll to fall three spots outside the rankings.
Minnesota (20-7, 8-6) and Michigan (17-10, 7-7) each received votes in the AP Top 25, with Minnesota picking up 5 votes and Michigan receiving one vote. Minnesota topped Michigan on Sunday night to extend its winning streak to five games, and if the Golden Gophers continue this winning streak with two more wins this week then they might jump right back into the AP Top 25.
I honestly have no idea how Michigan received a vote this week. Sure that was a good win over Wisconsin during the week, but this is a team that is still just .500 in conference play and still just trying to play itself into the tournament. Everyone has their own opinion though, so in the eyes of one lone voter Michigan is a top 25 team.
Based on these rankings there will be no matchups between ranked Big Ten teams this week. The closest to a ranked matchup will be Minnesota traveling to Maryland on Wednesday. If the Golden Gophers pick up the upset, then there’s a good chance they might be taking the Terps spot in next week’s rankings.