Last week was an exciting one for the Big Ten. The league scored some huge wins in the Gavitt Games and saw other teams like Michigan State and Purdue score quality wins as well. All told, the Big Ten drastically improved its standing nationally.
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. (Please Note: This list does not include games from November 19th or later).
Big Ten Week Three Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan Wolverines (+6)
The Wolverines pretty underwhelming in week one. However, that outlook changed dramatically in week two, as Michigan went on the road and blew out Villanova and then added two more neutral court victories over the weekend. All told, Michigan improved to 5-0 on the season and jumped to seventh nationally on KenPom.
While Villanova probably wasn’t quite as good as most thought when Michigan beat the Wildcats on the road, that’s still a monumental win. Going on the road and beating one of college basketball’s best programs isn’t an easy task. And adding wins over George Washington and Providence away from home on top of it is even more encouraging.
The only real question about Michigan moving forward is about how good this team will be this season. Can the Wolverines compete for a national title or is this a team that will simply be really good in the Big Ten? It’s an intriguing question and something that likely won’t be resolved for some time.
This week, Michigan will only have one game, which will come at home against Chattanooga on Friday. The Wolverines will be major favorites.
#2 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes had two games this week and looked impressive in both matchups. Ohio State opened up with a road win against Creighton on Thursday and then followed that up with a blowout victory over South Carolina State on Sunday to improve to 4-0.
Although Ohio State’s statistical profile isn’t as impressive as others around the Big Ten, it still gets the benefit of the doubt here because of what it’s actually done so far this season. The Buckeyes still have the best two road wins of any Big Ten team so far. And considering how hard it is to win against good opponents on the road, that’s huge.
Ohio State will get two games at home this week with Samford on Tuesday and Cleveland State on Friday.
#3 - Michigan State Spartans (--)
The Spartans are the highest ranked team on this list without a quality win. However, Michigan State continues to perform like a top team. This week, Michigan State added home wins over Louisiana Monroe and Tennessee Tech by wide margins.
Realistically, Spartan fans are going to have to wait until the team gets another matchup against a quality opponent to have an idea about the team. The good news is that with a matchup against UCLA coming on Thursday, it won’t be too long.
#4 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (--)
The Huskers finally got an opportunity to face a quality opponent this week and acquitted themselves well. Nebraska handled Seton Hall at home on Wednesday to improve to 3-0 on the season and to 29th on KenPom. At this point, it’s hard to deny that Nebraska looks like a legitimate NCAA Tournament team right now.
However, the question has always been about whether this Husker squad will be able to win away from home. That’s ultimately what doomed last year’s group. The team will get its chance to prove itself away from home with Missouri State on Monday in Kansas City and a followup game on Tuesday. Nebraska will also face Western Illinois at home on Saturday.
#5 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+9)
The Hawkeyes were heavily doubted coming into last week, including by yours truly. Iowa seemed like a team destined to repeat its 2017-’18 struggles and fail to make any significant noise in the postseason.
But Iowa had other ideas.
The team went to New York City for the 2K Classic and scored wins against Oregon and UConn. Both opponents were among the top 100 on KenPom and the Ducks are currently within the top 20. The wins were incredibly impressive and are arguably the two best wins by any Big Ten team this season.
Iowa will now return home to face Alabama State on Wednesday in its only game this week.
#6 - Wisconsin Badgers (+4)
The Badgers entered this season looking to bounce back after a rough year. Wisconsin had missed the NCAAs for the first time in more than a decade and fans were anxious to get back on track. With many key contributors back, things looked promising.
And if last week is any indication, Wisconsin could be in for a big year.
The Badgers not only scored two wins, but grabbed a massive road win against Xavier in the Gavitt Games. Although the Musketeers aren’t what they used to be, it was still a significant win for the program and could set the team up for a big year.
Wisconsin will now look to build on that success with a matchup against Stanford on Wednesday in the Bahamas and then a game against either Florida or Oklahoma on Thursday.
#7 - Purdue Boilermakers (-5)
The Boilermakers have slipped under the radar a bit this season, but the team has been pretty impressive so far. And while Purdue fell narrowly to Virginia Tech on Sunday night, it still was able to grab wins over Charleston and Appalachian State. The question will simply be whether Purdue can take care of business against quality competition this year.
By all the statistical measures, Purdue has essentially picked up where it left things last season. The Boilermakers are a bonafide Big Ten contender and should be in play for a great seed in March. Things are going to be really intriguing heading into December as Purdue gets an absolutely brutal stretch from November 27th through December 15th.
This week, Purdue will face Robert Morris at home on Friday.
#8 - Indiana Hoosiers (-3)
The Hoosiers were another team that started hot, but had a brief slip up over the weekend. While Indiana started this week by beating down a quality Marquette team at home, it finished by dropping a very winnable road game against Arkansas on Sunday.
Indiana will now get two warmup games at home before going on the road to face Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Those will come against UT Arlington on Tuesday and UC Davis on Friday. The Hoosiers figure to be substantial favorites in both games.
#9 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (--)
The Gophers had a really productive week, scoring top 100 wins against Utah at home and Texas A&M on a neutral court. Neither win by itself is all that significant, but together, those are a nice start to a resume. Minnesota only ended up with two such non-con wins last season and the Gophers already have two before Thanksgiving. A really encouraging start.
Minnesota will now get Santa Clara on a neutral court on Tuesday and then a top 50 opponent in Washington on Wednesday. If the Gophers can win both those games, it would be a huge sign for what could come for the program this season.
#10 - Maryland Terrapins (-4)
If Terps had a relatively quiet week. Although the team had three games, none of them came against quality competition. As such, Maryland was able to grab three double-digit wins at home over North Carolina A&T, Hofstra, and Mount St. Mary’s. The wins pushed Maryland to 5-0 overall.
Anthony Cowan has been the star, but the Terps have gotten some really nice production from Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith upfront as well. The team now sits at 36th nationally on KenPom and will look to keep things rolling against Marshall at home on Friday. This will be Maryland’s first top 100 opponent this season.
#11 - Northwestern Wildcats (+2)
The Wildcats had two games last week and scored two easy wins. The first was against American on Monday and the second came against Binghamton on Friday. The wins pushed Northwestern to 3-0 on the year. The Wildcats will now hope to continue the team’s momentum against Fresno State on Thursday in California and either La Salle or Miami (FL) thereafter as part of the Wooden Legacy.
#12 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions split the team’s games last week with a win over Jacksonville State on Monday and a loss on the road against DePaul on Thursday. The loss was a frustrating one for the program as it came in a winnable game. This week, Penn State will travel to Cancun to face Wright State on Tuesday and then either Bradley or SMU on Wednesday.
#13 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
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.
#14 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-6)
The Scarlet Knights only had one game last week and fell short at home on Friday night against St. John’s. It was a frustrating loss, as fans were hoping that Rutgers could turn the page on last season. However, Rutgers fell by 19 points in the matchup. The team will now get Eastern Michigan at home on Monday and Boston University at home on Friday.