It’s been quite a run for the Big Ten since Thanksgiving. Fans got to see the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, a week and a half of conference play, and a plethora of other marquee non-conference games for the league.
Every team has now played some quality opponents, saw some conference action, and played in at least one uncomfortable environment. What this means is that fans now have a pretty good idea about where things sit in the Big Ten. This makes our latest set of power rankings even more interesting.
Please also 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.
Big Ten Week Six Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
The Wolverines played two games over the last week and won both. The first came on the road against Northwestern and the second came at home against South Carolina. The two wins pushed Michigan to 10-0 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play.
While we did see a few holes in Michigan’s team in the last few games, there isn’t much to complain about with regard to the Wolverines right now. Not only is Michigan the league’s only remaining undefeated team, but 9 of 10 wins have come by 10 points or more.
Simply put, it’s been domination for Michigan.
Over the next few weeks, there isn’t a lot to look forward to for this Michigan team. The Wolverines will face Western Michigan at home on Saturday in the first leg of a three-game stretch where each of Michigan’s opponents sit well outside the top 200 on KenPom. As such, it’s going to take quite a string of events for Michigan to fall short of a 13-0 start.
#2 - Michigan State Spartans (+2)
The Spartans had two games this week and scored two huge victories. Michigan State opened things up on Monday with a blowout of a ranked Iowa team and then followed it up with a road win against a top 25 KenPom team in Florida. The two wins pushed the Spartans to 8-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play.
Generally speaking, Michigan State is still a flawed team. Turnovers remain an issue and the team’s defense is inconsistent. However, Michigan State has quietly built a really impressive resume heading into a very manageable close to non-conference play. The Spartans don’t have any bad losses and have four wins over top 50 opponents. That should be more than enough to help the team get into nice position on Selection Sunday.
Michigan State will now be off until Sunday, where the team will face an overmatched Green Bay team at home.
#3 - Wisconsin Badgers (-1)
The Badgers split the team’s games last week, beating Rutgers at home on Monday, but falling on the road against Marquette on Saturday. The split left Wisconsin at 8-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Badgers.
Saturday was certainly a disappointment for Badger fans. Wisconsin is a better team than Marquette, but couldn’t get enough around Ethan Happ to grab the road win. However, Wisconsin’s resume remains in good shape. The team still has four wins against top 60 opponents and five against top 100 teams.
Wisconsin will now move on toward a matchup against Savannah State at home on Thursday. This should be an easy one for the Badgers.
#4 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes only had one game last weekend and went into Chicago and grabbed a win over Illinois in the United Center. The win pushed Ohio State to 8-1 overall and 2-0 in league play. The team also added its third win away from home so far this season.
Ohio State very easily could have been third on this list. However, Wisconsin simply has more quality wins at this venture and it’s hard to criticize the Badgers much for losing to Virginia and on the road in overtime. The Buckeyes remain in really good shape moving forward and should be in play for a nice seed in march.
The Buckeyes will be back in action on Saturday at home against Bucknell. The Bison are actually a relatively good filler opponent. A win there could help Ohio State’s resume.
#5 - Indiana Hoosiers (+3)
The Hoosiers are quietly the hottest team in the Big Ten. This week, Indiana added a road win over Penn State and a home win against Louisville. The wins pushed the Hoosiers to 8-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. Indiana now has four wins against top 50 opponents, which puts it right with the league’s best.
Indiana hasn’t proven it can contend with the league’s best, but it has shown that it’s dangerous at home and can beat quality opponents. The win over Louisville was particularly impressive, as Indiana trailed early, but was able to respond and grab the win.
This week, Indiana will get Butler in the Crossroads Classic on Saturday. A win there and the hype train will really start going in Bloomington.
#6 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+3)
The Gophers had two games this week and scored two nice wins, beating Nebraska at home on Wednesday and following that up with a win over Arkansas State on Saturday. The wins pushed Minnesota to 8-1 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota only has one game this week, with North Florida at home on Tuesday. The Gophers should have a pretty manageable route to 9-1 as a result.
#7 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Huskers had two games this week and split, losing on the road against Minnesota, but rebounding with a huge win over Creighton at home. As a result, Nebraska now sits at 8-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play. The Huskers also continued the team’s remarkable play at home dating back to last season.
Nebraska has largely looked like an NCAA team so far. However, whether the team can improve its play away from home remains a question. Until the Huskers can start winning on the road more consistently, it’s hard to put Nebraska much higher on this list.
This week, Nebraska will travel to Sioux Falls to face Oklahoma State on Sunday. It should be a nice opportunity for the Huskers to add a resume win.
#8 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-3)
The Hawkeyes went 1-1 this week with a loss on the road to Michigan State on Monday night and a win over Iowa State at home on Thursday. As a result, Iowa now sits at 7-2 overall with three wins over top 80 opponents so far this season.
Iowa will get an interesting game on Saturday with a neutral court matchup against Northern Iowa. Expect a feisty game.
#9 - Purdue Boilermakers (-2)
The Boilermakers went 1-1 this week with a home win over Maryland on Thursday night and a loss on the road to Texas on Sunday. Purdue now sits at 6-4 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play entering this week. The loss to the Longhorns was particularly rough, as Purdue lost thanks in part to a massive self-inflicted mistake for the Boilermakers.
This week, Purdue will get a chance to rebound on Saturday with a matchup against Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic. And after letting a handful of games slip away, this is a game that Purdue needs to find a way to win.
#10 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terps had a mixed week. Maryland lost on the road against Purdue on Thursday, but responded with a win over Loyola (Chicago) on a neutral court on Saturday. The split left Maryland at 8-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
At this point, Maryland looks like a good team and one capable of making the NCAA Tournament. However, whether this is a bubble team or a legitimate top 25 squad remains to be seen. The Terps will need to show more against top tier competition if the media and fans are going to recognize this team as a top 25 unit.
This week, Maryland will get Loyola (MD) at home on Tuesday. Yes, a pretty bizarre scheduling quirk, given that Maryland just played Loyola (Chicago).
#11 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats were another team that split this week, losing at home to Michigan on Tuesday, but responding with a win over DePaul at home on Saturday. Northwestern is now 7-3 overall with two of its losses coming against top 25 teams on KenPom.
Northwestern will get two home games this week with Chicago State on Monday and Oklahoma on Friday. Two wins would be huge for the team’s postseason hopes.
#12 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)
The Nittany Lions split the team’s games this week. Penn State opened with a loss at home against Indiana in the closing minutes, but rebounded with a win over Colgate on Saturday. The split left the team at 5-4 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will now get North Carolina State on a neutral court on Saturday. A win there would go a long way for this squad moving forward.
#13 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-2)
The Scarlet Knights were starting to get buy in from the media and fans. After beating Miami (FL) on the road and nearly upsetting Michigan State, it seemed like Rutgers had finally turned the corner. Hopes were high for the team just about everywhere.
But things, once again, went off the rails for Rutgers this week.
On Monday, Rutgers fell on the road to Wisconsin and then followed that up with a road loss to a lowly Fordham team that had just lost to Maine before facing the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers now sits at 5-4 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play.
Rutgers will hope to rebound on Saturday with a road game against Seton Hall. Another loss could really send this team reeling.
#14 - Illinois Fighting Illini (--)
The Illini aren’t a great team. But the team was finally able to grab a win on Saturday with a home win against UNLV. And that has to mean something. This is a team that needs to continue to grow over the coming months. Illinois will get back in action on Saturday with a home game against East Tennessee State.