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2016-’17 Week 16 Big Ten Power Rankings: Minnesota Grabs The Top Spot

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

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Maryland Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve made it. After months of games, upsets, and battles across the league, we’ve finally reached the last week of the regular season. The time for talk has officially passed and now teams will earn their spots in the Big Ten Tournament.

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 16 Big Ten power rankings.

Big Ten Week 16 Power Rankings

#1 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+3)

The Golden Gophers are red hot and moved into the No. 1 spot in this week’s Power Rankings after grabbing two more wins last week. Minnesota is now 22-7 overall, 10-6 in Big Ten play, and has won seven games in a row.

While Minnesota’s recent run is impressive on its face, it gets even more impressive when one dives into those seven straight wins. During this stretch, Minnesota has beaten six top 100 KenPom teams, three top 50 KenPom teams, and recorded three road wins. Additionally, Minnesota won at Maryland and beat a red hot Michigan.

Minnesota will get two opportunities to keep its momentum going this week with Nebraska at home on Thursday and Wisconsin on the road on Sunday. Notably, the Gophers could earn the one seed in the Big Ten Tournament, if things fall perfectly.

#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (-1)

The Boilermakers entered last week with a lot on the line. Purdue had won five games in a row and were looking to finish off the Big Ten title race. Things got off to a nice start with a road win against Penn State, but a stumble on the road against Michigan on Saturday will leave work to do for Purdue next week.

Purdue may be the Big Ten’s deepest and most talented team, but there’s no debating that the team’s struggles on the road have continued all season. The wins against Indiana and Maryland were impressive, but otherwise, it’s been inconsistency and struggles for the Boilermakers on the road this season.

Of course, the good news for Purdue is that the team will get a quick opportunity to put those struggles in the rear-view mirror this week. With Indiana at home on Tuesday and Northwestern on the road on Sunday, Purdue could add two huge wins and seal up its first outright Big Ten title since 1996, if all goes right.

#3 - Michigan Wolverines (+3)

After Michigan’s rough performance in January and early February, few would have expected the Wolverines to be third on this list with one week left in the regular season. But college basketball is a weird place and here we are.

Last week, Michigan continued its recent run of success, scoring a road win at Rutgers on Wednesday and a home win against a ranked Purdue team on Saturday. The two wins pushed the Wolverines to 19-10 on the season and 9-7 in Big Ten play. They also likely pushed Michigan into comfortable positioning for this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Michigan will get two more opportunities to add quality wins to its resume this week with a road game at Northwestern on Wednesday and another at Nebraska on Sunday. Given how Michigan has played on the road this season, even a split would be a quality performance for the Wolverines.

#4 - Wisconsin Badgers (-2)

The Badgers are in rough shape. After ending the team’s two-game skid last week with a win at home, Wisconsin decided to start up another skid by losing on Thursday on the road against Ohio State and on Sunday at Michigan State. The two losses dropped Wisconsin to 22-7 overall, 11-5 in the Big Ten, and a full game behind Purdue in the title race with just two regular season games remaining.

While losing four of five is bad enough in its own right, Wisconsin’s struggles have actually been far more extensive. Since blowing out Ohio State at home on January 12th, Wisconsin is 8-4, but three of those wins came in overtime, including one against Rutgers on a neutral court, and another came by five at home to a struggling Indiana.

It hasn’t been a pretty run for the Badgers.

Wisconsin will look to get back on track in two rivalry games this week with Iowa at home on Thursday and Minnesota at home on Sunday. It’s worth noting that both the Hawkeyes and Gophers beat Maryland on the road last week.

#5 - Maryland Terrapins (-2)

The Terrapins are another team that’s searching for answers. Despite reaching 20-2 overall at one point, Maryland has now lost five of its last seven with three of those losses coming at home and two coming during the last week. The latter both came at home against Minnesota and Iowa.

Considering that Maryland’s Big Ten title hopes were already pretty much done when the Terps lost to Wisconsin a little over a week ago, some of the sting should come out of these struggles. However, there’s no debating that losing to teams like Iowa at home will do some major damage to Maryland’s NCAA seeding.

Maryland will get two great opportunities to rebound from its rough patch this week with Rutgers on the road on Tuesday and Michigan State at home on Saturday. Maryland will need to win at least one of the two games to earn a double-bye in this year’s Big Ten Tournament.

#6 - Michigan State Spartans (+1)

The Spartans were in desperation mode last week. However, with a win over Nebraska on Thursday and another over Wisconsin on Sunday, the tides have changed for Michigan State. The team is now 18-11 overall and has won four of its last five and six of its last eight games.

Many will debate Michigan State’s NCAA Tournament standing in the days to come, but with Sunday’s win over Wisconsin, things appear to be sitting pretty for the Spartans. After all, it’s hard to imagine Michigan State adding anymore bad losses and/or losing out with at least three pretty winnable games left on the schedule.

Michigan State will get two intriguing road games this week. The first will come against Illinois on Wednesday and the second will come against Maryland on Saturday. A win in other game will likely end any bubble discussion for Michigan State.

#7 - Indiana Hoosiers (+2)

The Hoosiers continued the team’s struggles early this week with a loss to Iowa on Tuesday, but finally got back on track with a win over Northwestern on Saturday. The split left Indiana at 16-13 overall and 6-10 in Big Ten play.

Indiana will look to build off its win over Northwestern with two road games this week. The Hoosiers will start with Purdue on Tuesday and finish with Ohio State on Saturday. Indiana desperately needs to win at least one of these games to have a hope at avoiding a Wednesday game in the Big Ten Tournament.

#8 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)

The Illini may be one of the most unusual stories in college basketball this season. The team has swung widely between great and terrible with seemingly no in between. It’s also come with little explanation. Simply put, Illini fans have been along for the ride.

And, of course, the good news is that things are heading in the right direction at the moment. Illinois has now won four of its last five games and two last week. During that stretch, Illinois won three road games and also swept rival Northwestern.

At this point, Illinois is still a long shot for the NCAA Tournament. However, if the team can finish the season on a positive note and get some help on the bubble, a First Four appearance isn’t dead yet. It might sound crazy, but Illinois is doing enough to warrant those types of discussions.

Illinois will continue that pursuit this week with Michigan State at home on Wednesday and Rutgers on the road on Saturday. Both of these games need to be wins if Illinois has a realistic hope of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team.

#9 - Northwestern Wildcats (-4)

The Wildcats continued the team’s struggles this week with two losses on the road. The first came on Tuesday to Illinois and the second came on Saturday to Indiana. The two losses dropped Northwestern to 20-9 overall and 9-7 in Big Ten play.

These two losses were just the latest in quite a run for Northwestern. The team has lost five of its last seven games, with two of those losses coming at home. Time is running out for Northwestern to fend off the NCAA Tournament bubble pressure.

This week, Northwestern will get home games against Michigan on Wednesday and Purdue on Sunday. A win in either would end up NCAA Tournament bubble discussion for the Wildcats.

#10 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-2)

The Nittany Lions are in rough shape. After getting in position to make this season’s NIT, the wheels have come off over the last few games. Penn State has now lost three in a row with the latest coming at home to Purdue in overtime and to Minnesota on the road last Saturday.

Penn State will look to put a positive finish on this year’s regular season with Ohio State at home on Tuesday and Iowa on the road on Sunday. Both games should be winnable and would be a nice boost to Penn State’s resume.

#11 - Iowa Hawkeyes (--)

The Hawkeyes continue to be one of the league’s most dangerous teams. That was on display last week as Iowa knocked off Indiana at home in overtime on Tuesday and Maryland on the road on Saturday. The two wins pushed Iowa to 16-13 overall.

Iowa will look to continue its recent hot streak with Wisconsin on the road on Thursday and Penn State at home on Sunday. Two wins would be huge for the team’s NIT hopes.

#12 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)

The Buckeyes only had one game last week and scored a huge home upset against Wisconsin on Thursday night. The win won’t change much for Ohio State’s postseason hopes, but it does put a positive spin on an otherwise forgettable season.

Ohio State will get two intriguing games this week with Penn State on the road on Tuesday and Indiana at home on Saturday.

#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)

The Cornhuskers lost both games this week. The first came on the road against Michigan State on Thursday and the second came at home against Illinois on Sunday. The two losses dropped Nebraska to 12-16 overall and 6-10 in Big Ten play.

Nebraska doesn’t have any realistic postseason hopes at this point outside of a Big Ten Tournament run. However, the Cornhuskers can help the team’s chances there with two wins this week. Nebraska gets Minnesota on the road on Thursday and Michigan at home on Sunday.

#14 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (--)

The Scarlet Knights haven’t had much luck recently. Despite an 11-1 start to the season, Rutgers now sits at 13-16 overall and 2-14 in Big Ten play. The team’s latest loss came last Wednesday night at home against Michigan.

Rutgers still has three guaranteed games left and the first two of those will be this week at home against Maryland and Illinois. Either should help the program build some momentum into the offseason.