Although Big Ten play officially restarted in the first week of January, it felt like things truly restarted this week. We got to see a variety of intriguing matchups all week long. Big Ten hopefuls went on the road, NCAA at-large contenders battled with one another, and one bottom dweller was able to pull off an upset. It was a really fun week.
That action, of course, resulted in a few shakeups to this week’s power rankings. As such, let’s take a look at where things sit. Things continue to heat up across the Big Ten.
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 11 Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
The Wolverines had two games this week and scored two double-digit wins. Michigan did this by beating Illinois on the road on Thursday night and Northwestern at home on Sunday evening. The two wins pushed Michigan to 17-0 overall and 6-0 in league play. It’s Michigan’s best start in program history. A remarkable achievement for John Beilein and his group.
And dating back to last season, it’s been quite a run for Michigan:
Michigan’s Last 32 Games:— Thomas Beindit (@tbeindit) January 14, 2019
-31-1 overall record.
-24 wins by double-digits.
-21 wins vs top 100 teams.
-14 wins vs top 50 teams.
-7 wins vs top 25 teams.
-3 wins vs top 10 teams.
-18 straight home wins.
-Beat MSU, Nova, OSU, PU, UNC.
-Only loss in national title game.
Michigan is only the fifth Big Ten team to start 17-0 or better over the last 40 years. All four of the previous teams ended up making the Sweet 16. As of Monday, Michigan currently has an active winning streak against every other Big Ten team. A ridiculous statement.
The question now is when the Wolverines will lose. Many have circled Saturday’s game for the last few weeks, as Michigan will travel to Madison to face Wisconsin. Expect a thriller as the Badgers will be hungry for the upset. If Michigan does manage to beat Wisconsin, the next game that many would likely circle is January 25th at Indiana.
#2 - Michigan State Spartans (--)
The Spartans had two intriguing games this week and were able to score two quality wins. Michigan State handled Purdue at home on Tuesday and followed that up with a road win over Penn State on Sunday afternoon. The two wins pushed Michigan State to 15-2 overall and 6-0 in Big Ten play. The team has also now won 10 straight games.
By any measure, Michigan State is absolutely rolling right now. The Spartans have not only won 10 straight games, but eight of those wins came by double-digits and six wins came against top 100 opponents. Michigan State is also now up to third nationally on KenPom, the highest mark for any Big Ten team. Simply put, it’s been an incredible run.
That run will get a major challenge this week, though, as Michigan State goes on the road to face Nebraska on Thursday night. The Spartans look better than the Huskers, but Nebraska has been nearly unbeatable at home over the last year and a half. It should be a fun one.
#3 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+2)
The Gophers split the team’s games this week with a loss to Maryland at home on Tuesday and a win over Rutgers at home on Saturday. This left Minnesota at 13-3 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play. All told, the team has won 7 of its last 8 games.
Like a few other teams on this list, Minnesota remains in pretty decent shape right now. The Gophers have a solid resume and don’t have any terrible losses. The loss to Boston College could become one if the Eagles keep tanking, but it’s not quite there yet. Minnesota also continues to take care of its business at home.
However, Minnesota is in the midst of an incredibly important stretch. The Gophers have a back-loaded schedule, so the team needs to pick up wins now. Fans will hope that’s the case with Illinois on the road on Wednesday and Penn State at home on Saturday. If Minnesota is going to end up on the right side of the bubble, these need to be wins.
#4 - Indiana Hoosiers (-1)
The Hoosiers only had one game this week and fell short in it, losing on the road to Maryland on Friday night. The loss dropped Indiana to 12-4 overall and 3-2 in league play. Indiana has also now lost two in a row for the first time this season.
As a result of these losses, many are starting to wonder whether the Hoosiers are a legitimate postseason contender this year. However, it’s way too early to start panicking about Indiana. This team has already beaten a plethora of quality opponents and still doesn’t have a “bad” loss so far this season. The Hoosiers should be just fine.
Fans will hope the team gets back on track this week with Nebraska at home on Monday and Purdue on the road on Saturday. Two losses here would be absolutely devastating, especially considering that the second game comes against the program’s arch-rival.
#5 - Purdue Boilermakers (+1)
The Boilermakers had mixed results this week with a loss on the road to Michigan State on Tuesday and a win over Wisconsin on Friday. The split left Purdue at 10-6 overall and 3-2 in league play. The Boilermakers have also won four of the team’s last five games.
This week, Purdue will have two important games with Rutgers at home on Tuesday and Indiana at home on Saturday. Two wins would be massive for the team’s NCAA hopes.
#6 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+1)
The Hawkeyes scored two key victories this week with a win over Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and a home win against Ohio State on Saturday. The wins pushed Iowa to 14-3 overall and 3-3 in league play. The Hawkeyes have also won eight of nine games.
It’s hard to contextualize just how important those two wins were for Iowa’s postseason chances. The Hawkeyes took two 50-50 games and turned them into victories. Iowa isn’t a lock for the NCAAs yet, but the team is certainly on the right side of things now.
And Iowa has a chance to really improve its resume this week with Penn State on the road on Wednesday and Illinois at home on Sunday. It would take a pretty surprising collapse for Iowa to miss the NCAAs if it wins both of these games.
#7 - Maryland Terrapins (+1)
The Terps are probably the hottest team in the Big Ten that doesn’t have “Michigan” in its named. Maryland has now won five straight games, including two big ones last week. The Terps knocked off Minnesota on the road on Tuesday and followed that up with a win against a ranked Indiana team on Friday night.
With its recent run, Maryland now sits at 14-3 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play. The Terps are also up to 21st nationally on KenPom and projected to finish with 21 regular season wins. Numbers that would certainly be good enough to get the team back to the NCAAs with an at-large bid. That has to be exciting news for Terp fans after a disappointing performance in non-conference play.
The challenge will now be keeping up that momentum. This week, Maryland will get Wisconsin at home on Monday and Ohio State on the road on Friday. A split in those games would be a pretty good accomplishment.
#8 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-4)
The Buckeyes had a really rough last 10 days. After jumping out to a 12-1 start to the season, Ohio State lost three games in the last two weeks. The first was to Michigan State at home and the last two came this week to Rutgers and Iowa on the road. The two losses dropped Ohio State to 12-4 overall and 2-3 in league play.
Generally speaking, Ohio State remains in pretty good shape. The Buckeyes still have a really impressive overall resume and are 29th nationally on KenPom. Wins over Cincinnati, Creighton, Minnesota, and UCLA stand out at the moment. And three of the team’s four losses are pretty explainable, as they came against quality competition.
But even with that in mind, it’s hard not to wonder where things are heading for the Buckeyes. The team never impressed on the “eye test” this season and fans have to wonder whether the recent struggles are a sign of this team regressing to the mean. Losing to an elite Michigan State team is one thing, but dropping a game to Rutgers? And losing to a good, but not great Iowa team by double-digits? Those aren’t exactly encouraging signs, especially for a team that thought it might contend for a league title at season’s end.
Either way, this leaves Ohio State in an interesting position. The Buckeyes are in fine shape right now, but the team’s margin for error is rapidly decreasing. Ohio State fans will have to hope that the bleeding stops this week. The Buckeyes only get one game with Maryland at home on Friday night. This needs to be a win for Ohio State.
#9 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers won the team’s only game this week at home against Penn State on Thursday night. While the game was still a win, it wasn’t an encouraging performance. The Nittany Lions kept things close throughout and Nebraska struggled to pull away. The win pushed Nebraska to 12-4 overall and 2-3 in league play.
This week, Nebraska will get Indiana on the road on Monday and Michigan State at home on Thursday night. The Huskers are underdogs in both games.
#10 - Wisconsin Badgers (-1)
The Badgers only had one game this week and fell in overtime at home against Purdue on Friday night. The loss dropped Wisconsin to 11-5 overall and 3-2 in league play. It also marked Wisconsin’s third loss in four games.
Wisconsin will hope to rebound this week with Maryland on the road on Monday and Michigan at home on Saturday. Given the team’s recent struggles and the strength of those opponents, even a 1-1 performance this week would be pretty encouraging.
#11 - Northwestern Wildcats (--)
The Wildcats lost both of the team’s games this week. Northwestern fell at home to Iowa on Wednesday night and on the road against Michigan on Sunday. The two losses for Northwestern dropped the team to 10-7 overall and 1-4 in league play.
This week, Northwestern will face Rutgers on the road on Friday. The major question will be about when star forward Vic Law returns to the lineup. The Wildcats will need him if the team is going to get back on track.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights had a pretty solid performance this week, upsetting Ohio State at home on Wednesday and falling to Minnesota on the road on Saturday. The split left Rutgers at 8-7 overall and 1-4 in Big Ten play.
As mentioned in previous versions of this post, Rutgers is going to be a wildcard this season. The Scarlet Knights are incredibly unbalanced with a top 50 defense and an offense well outside the top 200 on KenPom. What that means is that Rutgers can compete with almost anybody when the team is hitting shots. It explains why the team beat Miami (FL) and Ohio State, but lost to Fordham and nearly lost to Columbia at home.
However, beating Ohio State is still a major accomplishment for Steve Pikiell. Whether it can help to grow this team remains to be seen, but fans have to be excited. Rutgers will get two more upset opportunities this week with Purdue on the road on Tuesday and Northwestern at home on Friday.
#13 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions lost both of the team’s games this week. Penn State fell on the road to Nebraska on Thursday night and at home to Michigan State on Sunday. The losses dropped Penn State to 7-10 overall and 0-6 in Big Ten play.
If Penn State has any hopes of salvaging this season, it has to start this week with Iowa at home and Minnesota on the road. Neither of these games are guaranteed wins, but an upset is possible. But two losses would make things even tougher on Pat Chambers.
#14 - Illinois Fighting Illini (--)
The Illini dropped the team’s only game this week at home against Michigan on Thursday night. The team will hope to rebound this week with Minnesota at home on Wednesday and Iowa on the road on Sunday.