College basketball opened its season last week with a plethora of great games played all over the nation. The biggest matchups included Duke facing off against Kentucky and Michigan State battling Kansas on opening night. Additionally, Ohio State traveled to Cincinnati and Maryland went on the road to face off against Navy.
With all those games in the books, it’s now time to check back in on the league and where things sit. Please note that this year’s rankings are going to be a tad different. I am only going to look at things each team has accomplished on the court. No projecting or predicting anymore. I will place an emphasis on recent play, but I am only going to be looking strictly at results going forward.
So, let’s dive in.
Big Ten Week Two Power Rankings
#1 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+9)
The Buckeyes entered this season with mixed expectations. Even though Ohio State won 25 games last year, many felt like the team would take a step back. The narrative around Columbus was that Ohio State had overachieved in Chris Holtmann’s first year and would come back to earth in round two.
However, things got off to a brilliant start in week one. Ohio State went on the road and scored a huge win over Cincinnati and followed that up with a home blowout of Purdue Fort Wayne on Sunday afternoon. The team is already up nine spots on KenPom since season’s tip and is now projected to have a winning record in Big Ten play.
Ohio State may not be the best team in the league, but nobody has accomplished more to date. The Buckeyes have a road win against a top 50 opponent and had another blowout victory. Half the league doesn’t even have two wins yet, let alone a road win of that magnitude. As such, it’s hard to argue anybody else deserves the top spot right now.
This week, Ohio State will face Creighton on the road on Thursday and South Carolina State at home on Sunday. Two wins would be massive for the team’s postseason chances.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (+6)
Many weren’t sure what to expect out of this “new look” Purdue team coming into this season. Carsen Edwards returned, but the rest of the roster would look markedly different than it had before. As such, Purdue was one of the bigger question marks in the league.
However, things have looked good so far. Purdue walked all over Fairfield on Tuesday night and then followed it up with a win over a top 100 team on KenPom in Ball State. The two victories pushed the Boilermakers up to 15th nationally in the advanced stats.
The question will now be whether Purdue can keep things rolling. The team will get Appalachian State on a neutral court on Thursday night as part of the Charleston Classic. A potential matchup awaits with Wichita State on Friday awaits thereafter. We will quickly find out whether this Purdue team is for real.
#3 - Michigan State Spartans (-1)
The Spartans come in at third on this list this week, despite being the only Big Ten team with a loss so far this season. Michigan State opened the season with a narrow loss against Kansas on a neutral court on Tuesday and rebounded with a solid win over Florida Gulf Coast at home on Sunday afternoon. As such, the team now sits at 1-1 overall.
Conventional wisdom and the advanced stats indicate that Michigan State is a top 15 team and will show as much once it has more opportunities against quality competition. However, you can only get so much credit for playing tough in a loss, which is why the Spartans fell two spots this week. The good news is that the team can easily recover in the weeks to come.
Michigan State will get Louisiana Monroe at home on Wednesday and Tennessee Tech at home on Sunday. Both should be easy wins.
#4 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
Let’s be honest about this. Nebraska has played two garbage opponents so far this season. Both are well outside the top 250 on KenPom and Mississippi Valley State is barely inside the top 350 nationally. Simply put, it hasn’t exactly been Duke or Kansas out there.
However, we do need to acknowledge the sheer destruction that Nebraska has inflicted so far this season. Its two victories have come by at least 50 points and its opening night win was the team’s first 100-point scoring performance in some time. These weren’t just your ordinary blowouts in “filler” games. These were annihilation.
At some point, Nebraska is going to have to prove itself against real teams, but this was an encouraging start. And the good news is that Nebraska gets Seton Hall at home on Wednesday night. Win there and people will start believing.
#5 - Indiana Hoosiers (-2)
Like several others on this list, Indiana played nobody in its first week of action. The Hoosiers faced off against Chicago State and Montana State at home and came away with blowout victories in both games. Both wins came by well over 40 points.
This is another team that has looked the part so far this season. But with so little opposition so far, it’s hard to buy in just yet. The good news is that with Marquette at home on Wednesday and Arkansas on the road on Sunday, fans will find out a lot more about this team this season. Two wins would be massive for this program.
#6 - Maryland Terrapins (-2)
If Terps had a bit of an up and down performance this week, narrowly holding off Delaware at home on Tuesday night, but beating Navy handily on the road on Friday night. The two wins pushed Maryland to 2-0 on the season and to sixth on this list.
The player who has really stood out for Maryland so far is freshman big man Jalen Smith. He played 31 minutes against Delaware and had 11 points and five rebounds in the win over Navy. There’s obviously still a lot of room to improve for Smith, but the early season performances have been encouraging. If he keeps it up, watch out.
Maryland will face North Carolina A&T on Monday, Hofstra on Friday, and Mount St. Mary’s on Sunday. All three games will be at home and the Terps are double-digit favorites according to KenPom in each matchup. Hofstra will be the key opponent to watch.
#7 - Michigan Wolverines (-6)
The Wolverines began the season atop these power rankings. However, there is little denying that the team’s performance through one week has left a lot to be desired. Michigan toyed around with Norfolk State for some time on Tuesday and then struggled mightily against Holy Cross on Saturday night. As such, Michigan dropped to seventh.
The good news is that Michigan still won both games and each actually ended up being by double-digits. The bad news is that things are about to ratchet up significantly. Michigan goes on the road to face Villanova on Wednesday and then faces George Washington as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament before either Providence or South Carolina. Michigan will be hoping to go at least 2-1.
#8 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+6)
After two blowout victories to start the season, Rutgers jumps from 14th to 8th on this list. While part of the reason for the lofty jump is simply a byproduct of Rutgers playing two games already, the two wins did come in impressive fashion. The Scarlet Knights beat Fairleigh Dickinson and Drexel by 64 combined points to reach 2-0 on the year.
Rutgers will now move on to face St. John’s at home on Friday night. A win there could drastically reshape the team’s goals for this season.
#9 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-2)
The Gophers won the team’s season opener with a 104-76 trouncing of Nebraska Omaha at home. The win was enough to jump up 11 spots on KenPom. And Amir Coffey really stood out, finishing with 18 points and four assists on the night. He very well could end up in the running for All-Big Ten first team honors by season’s end.
Minnesota will now get a tough week with Utah at home on Monday and Texas A&M on a neutral court on Sunday. Two wins would be huge for the team’s postseason goals.
#10 - Wisconsin Badgers (-4)
The Badgers only had one game last week, cruising to a victory at home over Coppin State. All things considered, there isn’t much to be learned from the game. Wisconsin will now move on to face Xavier on the road on Tuesday and Houston Baptist at home on Saturday. Two wins would get the Badgers moving up this list.
#11 - Penn State Nittany Lions (--)
The Nittany Lions were another team that faced off against an overmatched opponent at home to open the season. Penn State beat North Florida by 15 points on Friday to improve to 1-0 on the year. The team will now get Jacksonville State at home on Monday and DePaul on the road on Thursday.
#12 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-3)
The Illini started the season with a 39-point win over Evansville at home on Thursday night. The win was enough to bump the team up 10 spots on KenPom. Ayo Dosunmu had a great debut with 18 points and six rebounds. Illinois will now move on to face Georgetown at home on Tuesday night. This is a huge opportunity for the program to grab a marquee non-conference win.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (--)
The Wildcats opened with an 82-52 victory over New Orleans on Thursday night to improve to 1-0 on the season. Dererk Pardon had 13 points and 11 rebounds in the win. The team will continue its season with american at home on Monday and Binghamton at home on Friday. Look for two easy wins.
#14 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-2)
No Big Ten team has underwhelmed as much out of the gate as Iowa has so far. The Hawkeyes began the season with decent expectations, but had to battle to get to 2-0 against UMKC and Green Bay. The defense also very much remains a concern moving ahead. Iowa will head to New York to face Oregon in the 2K Classic. There, Iowa has a chance to show whether the early season concerns are warranted.