With last weekend’s set of games, Big Ten regular season play wrapped up with a bang. It was a hectic year filled with upsets, thrilling finishes, and more than a fair share of NCAA bubble drama. But the time for talk is now over as teams prepare to head to Washington, D.C. for the 2017 Big Ten Tournament.
By the way, you can check out the full Big Ten Tournament bracket here.
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 17 Big Ten power rankings.
Big Ten Week 17 Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (+1)
The Boilermakers entered the last week of the regular season with one goal in mind: Win the 2016-’17 Big Ten regular season title. Well, after a comfortable win over Indiana on Tuesday night, Purdue achieved its goal. It was the program’s first conference crown since 2010. And when the rest of the league struggled in the subsequent days, Purdue got its first outright Big Ten title since 1996.
Purdue then followed up on its Big Ten title with a huge road win over Northwestern on Sunday afternoon. The win pushed the Boilermakers to 25-6 on the season and 14-4 in Big Ten play. It was a tremendous way to finish off what has been a remarkable year for Purdue and could set up the team for a great NCAA Tournament seed.
Now, Purdue will head to the Big Ten Tournament as the highest seeding team, looking to make up for last year’s heart breaker in the championship game. Unfortunately, it will be a tough draw for Purdue as the team will likely have to take down Michigan and Minnesota to advance to the finals.
#2 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Golden Gophers entered last week as arguably the hottest team in the country. Minnesota had won seven straight games and had recently locked up a bid to this year’s NCAA Tournament. However, with a fringe shot at the Big Ten title, there was still plenty on the line for the Gophers.
Things got off to a good start for Minnesota on Thursday as the team won convincingly over Nebraska at home. However, Minnesota couldn’t finish the regular season perfectly as the team fell on the road to Wisconsin on Sunday. The split left Minnesota at 23-8 overall and 11-7 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota will now enter the Big Ten Tournament as the four seed. The Gophers are set to face Michigan State or the winner of Wednesday’s Nebraska and Penn State matchup. Of course, Gopher fans will be rooting for the latter as Minnesota has a 0-2 record against Michigan State this season.
#3 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
After Michigan’s home win over Purdue, the Wolverines entered this week looking to put the final touches on the team’s NCAA Tournament resume. Michigan would get road games against Northwestern on Wednesday and Nebraska on Sunday. Both offered nice RPI opportunities.
Things looked like they might get off to a great start when Michigan came out firing against Northwestern on Wednesday, but after a miracle play to end the game, Michigan blew its opportunity to add a late marquee road win. The good news for the Wolverines is that the team responded by beating down Nebraska on Sunday night. The win pushed the team to 20-11 on the season and 10-8 in Big Ten play.
Michigan will now enter the Big Ten Tournament as the eight seed. The Wolverines will face Illinois on Thursday for a shot to face Purdue on Friday. Even a single win would end any doubts about Michigan’s NCAA hopes. Notably, Michigan went 2-1 against Illinois and Purdue in the regular season.
#4 - Maryland Terrapins (+1)
After a horrendous three-game skid that included back-to-back home losses (a first for Maryland since 2009), the Terps were looking to get back on track with a manageable slate that featured a road game against Rutgers on Tuesday and a home game against Michigan State on Saturday.
Maryland ended up doing just that, with a dominant win over Rutgers on Tuesday and a dramatic win over Michigan State on Saturday. The two wins pushed Maryland to 24-7 overall on the season and 12-6 in the Big Ten play. Maryland also pushed its road win total to eight on the season and added a nice RPI win against the Spartans.
With those wins, Maryland will now enter the Big Ten Tournament as the three seed. The team will open up on Friday evening with either Northwestern or the winner of the Ohio State and Rutgers game. With what should be a quasi-home court advantage, expect a good showing from Maryland this week.
#5 - Wisconsin Badgers (-1)
The Badgers entered this week in a complete free fall. After a tremendous 21-3 start to the season, Wisconsin had dropped four of its previous five games, including one at home and a road game against an underwhelming Ohio State team.
Unfortunately, things only worsened to start this week, as Wisconsin dropped a home game to Iowa on Thursday night. With the loss, Wisconsin had dropped five of six, including two at home. Luckily, Wisconsin rebounded over the weekend with a huge win over rival Minnesota at home.
The split pushed Wisconsin to the two seed in this year’s Big Ten Tournament and the Badgers will be slated to face either Iowa or Indiana on Friday evening. During the regular season, Wisconsin swept the Hoosiers, but lose its sole matchup against Iowa.
#6 - Northwestern Wildcats (+3)
As every Big Ten fan is well aware (or should be), Northwestern has never made the NCAA Tournament. It’s something that has continued to stick like glue to Northwestern’s program. Until the Wildcats can finally get into the NCAA Tournament, the two will always be associated with one another.
However, the Wildcats hoped to erase those memories with two pivotal home matchups in the final week of the regular season. With quality Michigan and Purdue teams travelling to Evanston, the team looked primed to score one or two marquee wins to end the season. Two wins would remove any doubt about Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament chances this season.
Ultimately, Northwestern ended up splitting the matchups with a dramatic win over Michigan on Wednesday and a loss to Purdue on Sunday. Nonetheless, it did leave the team’s record at 21-10 overall and 10-8 in Big Ten play. By most accounts, that should be enough to wipe away that NCAA chain around the program.
Now, Northwestern will head to the Big Ten Tournament as the six seed with a matchup against Ohio State or Rutgers coming on Thursday. A win there would set up a game against Maryland on Friday. Any win should end virtually all of the program’s NCAA Tournament concerns.
#7 - Michigan State Spartans (-1)
The Spartans appeared to be trending up heading into the final week of the regular season. Michigan State had won its previous two games, four of its last five, and six of its last eight games. Notably, with the final win being against Wisconsin at home, things looked good in East Lansing.
However, Michigan State couldn’t get things together this week, falling on the road to Illinois on Wednesday and on the road against Maryland on Saturday. Both games were competitive, but the two losses dropped Michigan State to 18-13 on the season and 10-8 in Big Ten play. The two road losses also dropped Michigan State’s road record* to 2-8 on the season.
Michigan State will now head to the Big Ten Tournament as the five seed. The team’s first game will be on Thursday against either Nebraska or Penn State. If the Spartans can win there, the team will then face Minnesota. The tough news for Michigan State is that even one loss could mean the team misses the NCAA Tournament this season.
#8 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+3)
The Hawkeyes could very well be the league’s hottest team. After beating Indiana and Maryland in the preceding week, Iowa scored a road win over Wisconsin on Thursday and a home win against Penn State on Sunday this week.
Iowa will now head to D.C. as the conference’s seven seed and will face Indiana on Thursday. If Iowa can beat the Hoosiers, the Hawkeyes will face Wisconsin on Friday. It would be the second matchup between the two in one week. Iowa likely needs to win both of those games to have any realistic NCAA Tournament at-large hopes.
#9 - Indiana Hoosiers (-2)
The Hoosiers split the team’s two games this week, losing on the road against Purdue on Tuesday and winning in Columbus on Saturday. The split left Indiana at 17-14 overall and 7-11 in Big Ten play.
The win over Ohio State should help the team’s at-large hopes a bit, but it’s still going to take a massive performance in the Big Ten Tournament for the Hoosiers to have a serious chance of making the NCAA Tournament. This is particularly true given Indiana’s current spot at No. 81 in the RPI ratings. Even if you’re not a believer in the RPI, it’s going to be hard for the Committee to overlook that rating.
Indiana will head to the Big Ten Tournament as the league’s 10 seed and will face Iowa on Thursday evening. If the Hoosiers can win, the team will get Wisconsin on Friday. If Indiana is going to make the NCAA Tournament, the Hoosiers will likely need at least two games in D.C.
#10 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-2)
Over the last month, Illinois has quietly been improving its resume. Heading into last week, the team had won three in a row and four of five games. As a result, the Illini appeared to be right on the verge of making the NCAA Tournament field. If the team could take care of business against Michigan State at home and Rutgers on the road to end the regular season, things looked rosy.
Things did get off to a great start on Wednesday, when Illinois knocked off Michigan State at home. However, everything came crashing down on Saturday, as Illinois lost a heart breaker on the road against Rutgers. It was a gut punch for a team that might have been one or two wins away from locking up an NCAA bid.
Illinois will now head to the Big Ten Tournament as the nine seed with a matchup against Michigan on Thursday. If the Illini can pull off the upset, the team would then face top seeded Purdue on Friday. There’s little debating that two wins would likely put Illinois on the right side of the bubble.
#11 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)
The Buckeyes only had one game this week and it came at home against Indiana on Saturday. While the final score was close, the game wasn’t all that competitive, as the Hoosiers raced out to a 54-40 lead at halftime.
Ohio State will now head to D.C. as the 11 seed and will face Rutgers on Wednesday evening. A win would set up a matchup against Northwestern on Thursday and another would set up a matchup against Maryland on Friday. Ohio State likely needs to make the semi-finals to have any hopes of even sniffing an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
#12 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-2)
The Nittany Lions headed into the last week of the regular season hoping to finish with two wins and an above .500 record. Unfortunately, the team came up short against Ohio State at home and Iowa on the road. The two losses dropped Penn State to 14-17 on the season and 6-12 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will now enter the Big Ten Tournament as the conference’s 13 seed and will face Nebraska on Wednesday. If Penn State can win, the team would get Michigan State on Thursday. Another win would push the Nittany Lions into a matchup with Minnesota on Friday.
#13 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights had two games to close the regular season this week. The first one didn’t go well as Rutgers was blown out at home against Maryland, but the second went far better, as the team upset Illinois on Saturday. The split pushed Rutgers to 14-17 overall and 3-15 in Big Ten play. It’s worth noting that this is the program’s best conference mark since joining the league.
Rutgers will (once again) head to the Big Ten Tournament as the lowest seeded team. However, this year feels different. Rutgers will get a beatable Ohio State team on Wednesday. If the Scarlet Knights can get another upset, the team would record the program’s first Big Ten Tournament win. Rutgers would then face Northwestern.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Cornhuskers lost both of the team’s games this week, getting handled on the road against Minnesota on Thursday and getting blown off the face of the Earth by Michigan on Sunday. The two losses dropped Nebraska to 12-18 overall and 6-12 in Big Ten play.
Nebraska will now enter the Big Ten Tournament as the league’s 12 seed and will face Penn State on Wednesday. A win would set up a matchup against Michigan State on Thursday and a win there would set up a matchup against Minnesota on Friday.
* - Michigan State’s road loss to Penn State was technically not a road game.