This week’s power rankings are a bit late, but that only gives us more data to look at for the Big Ten and how the league stacks up as we approach the holiday tournament season. The Gavitt Games are already in the bag and we got even more interesting non-conference matchups over the last few days.
And where do things sit in the Big Ten at the moment? Let’s take a look at my latest Big Ten power rankings.
But before you do jump into the power rankings, a reminder about how my rankings are made. Once the season starts, my power rankings reflect actual gameplay. Who have you beaten, when did you do it, and how have you played otherwise? Those are the questions I focus on. The same can be said for losses. And given that these are power rankings, it’s a rolling scale. More recent results will be weighed more heavily.
Big Ten Week Two Power Rankings
#1 - Ohio State Buckeyes (--)
The Buckeyes are not only the hottest team in the Big Ten, but are one of the hottest teams in the country. After opening the season with two wins, Ohio State got a marquee opportunity with Villanova at home last Wednesday night. The Buckeyes absolutely dominated the Wildcats during the evening in route to a 76-51 win. Ohio State subsequently followed that up with a win over Stetson on Monday night.
It’s really hard to criticize anything about Ohio State so far this season. The Buckeyes are talented, deep, and are playing at an incredibly high level. Ohio State also already has two marquee wins on its resume with victories over top 25 level Cincinnati and Villanova squads. Those are going to be really valuable wins by the time we make it to Selection Sunday.
Ohio State will get a relatively easy week with only one game. The Buckeyes will face Purdue Ford Wayne at home on Friday night. Expect an easy win.
#2 - Michigan State Spartans (+1)
Since losing to Kentucky on opening night, Michigan State has looked really good. The Spartans beat Binghamton at home, then followed that up with a massive road win against Seton Hall and a dominating win against Charleston Southern at home on Monday night. The wins pushed Michigan State to 3-1 overall this season.
Michigan State hasn’t been as dominant as some might have expected out of the gate, but this is a really good team. And if players like Malik Hall can continue improving, Michigan State should be really dangerous in March. It doesn’t seem like this team is even close to hitting on all cylinders yet.
The Spartans will be off for the remainder of this week before heading to Hawaii to face Virginia Tech next Monday in the Maui Invitational.
#3 - Maryland Terrapins (-1)
The Terps have looked solid so far this season. Maryland opened with two solid wins at home in the opening week of the season and has added two more since then. The recent wins came against Oakland and Fairfield at home. Neither win was remotely close.
Maryland will get one more game this week with a matchup against George Mason at home on Friday night. It figures to be another easy win for the Terps, but the Patriots are a bit tougher than some of Maryland’s other opponents so far. Perhaps we can learn a bit more about Maryland before the team starts facing real opponents.
#4 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)
The Nittany Lions might be the most overlooked team in the Big Ten right now. Penn State opened the season with two wins against mediocre competition, but followed that up with two quality wins over the last few days. Penn State began by going on the road and beating Georgetown and followed that up with a win against a top 150 Bucknell team on Tuesday. The wins pushed Penn State to 4-0 on the season.
It’s still early, but things look encouraging for Penn State at the moment. The team is 26th on KenPom and already has some decent wins under its belt. And with Yale coming at home on Saturday, perhaps Penn State can add another one in the coming days. A win there and expectations would have to start rising for this squad.
#5 - Indiana Hoosiers (+2)
The Hoosiers are still under the radar nationally, but are starting to look like a pretty good team. Indiana improved to 4-0 last week after beating North Alabama and Troy at home by a combined 64 points and now rank 34th nationally on KenPom.
Justin Smith has been one of the key factors in the team’s improvement so far. He’s been really productive offensively and is doing a good job at getting to the line. Trayce Jackson-Davis has also impressed down low.
This week, Indiana only has one game with Princeton at home on Wednesday night. The Hoosiers are favored by 18 in the matchup.
#6 - Michigan Wolverines (+2)
The Wolverines had two games last week and were able to score two wins, beating Creighton on Tuesday night and Elon at home on Friday. The win against the Bluejays as particularly notable, as Creighton ranks 41st on KenPom. It was Juwan Howard’s first game against a competent opponent as head coach and he came out with a win.
Michigan gets another buy game at home on Friday with Houston Baptist on the slate. After that, Michigan will head to the Bahamas for Thanksgiving. It would be pretty surprising if the Wolverines don’t head there undefeated.
#7 - Purdue Boilermakers (-3)
The Boilermakers split the team’s two games last week. Purdue opened with a road loss to Marquette, but was able to rebound at home on Saturday against Chicago State. As a result, Purdue now sits at 2-2 overall, with the other loss coming to a solid Texas team.
By any general measure, Purdue still looks like a solid team. The Boilermakers are 10th nationally on KenPom and are just a few buckets away from being 4-0 with two wins over quality competition. But even with that said, it’s hard not to be frustrated with how Purdue has started its season. The team was in solid position to beat Texas at home and Marquette on the road and fell short in both contests. Fans will hope those losses don’t come back to bite when we get closer to the postseason.
This week, Purdue only has one game with Jacksonville State at home on Saturday. Expect a relatively easy win for the Boilermakers.
#8 - Wisconsin Badgers (+1)
Many thought the Badgers could be in a rebuilding mode heading into this season. And while there were some hints of that early on, Wisconsin quieted the skeptics over the weekend with a 15-point win over Marquette at home. The win pushed Wisconsin to 3-1 on the season with the team’s only loss on a neutral court to Saint Mary’s. Wisconsin has also risen all the way up to 39th on KenPom and projects to be in the hunt for an NCAA bid.
Wisconsin has a quiet next few days with one game against Green Bay at home on Thursday night. Expect a win there.
#9 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-3)
The Illini only had one game over the last week and it came at home on Monday night against an underwhelming Hawaii team. And while Illinois got the win, the game was more competitive than many would have liked. Illinois struggled with turnovers all night, which kept the Rainbow Warriors in the game.
Illinois will get The Citadel at home on Wednesday and Hampton at home on Saturday. Both of these should be wins on paper, but fans have to be concerned with some of the team’s offensive issues. Notably, Illinois sits 336th nationally in offensive turnover rate. It’s a major issue for this team and something that needs to improve going forward. Otherwise, it could end up derailing what projects to be a good season in Champaign.
#10 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+2)
The Gophers are only 1-3 on the season after dropping road games to Butler and Utah last week, but Minnesota has played one of the tougher schedules nationally so far. And the team was really competitive in some of those losses, leading against Oklahoma late and narrowly losing on the road against a decent Utah team.
Minnesota’s challenge now will be building on the positives and not letting some early losses turn into many more down the line. The Gophers have two games this week with Central Michigan at home on Thursday and North Dakota at home on Sunday. Both of these project to be wins.
#11 - Iowa Hawkeyes (--)
The Hawkeyes split the team’s games last week with a loss to DePaul on Monday and a win over Oral Roberts on Friday. The games left Iowa at 2-1 as a result and sitting 55th nationally on KenPom. The two wins came against bad opponents and the loss came against the only decent team Iowa has faced so far. As such, it’s hard to get a feel for this team just yet.
Iowa will have two more games against underwhelming competition this week with North Florida at home on Thursday and Cal Poly at home on Sunday. Iowa needs to go 2-0 in these games to stay on track.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-2)
The Scarlet Knights had two games last week and split the team’s matchups, beating Drexel at home on Wednesday, but falling on a neutral court to St. Bonaventure on Saturday. While the loss on Saturday was competitive, it was still crushing for fans who had entered the season with such high hopes. As a result, Rutgers now sits at 3-1 overall.
Rutgers only has one game this week, which will come on Wednesday at home against Stephen F. Austin. The Scarlet Knights really need to find a way to come out of that game with a win. If not, we’ll have to start asking some tough questions.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (--)
The Wildcats absolutely make no sense at this point. After suffering an embarrassing loss to Merrimack at home to open the season, Northwestern got back on track last week with a win over a top 25 level Providence team at home. The win left many Wildcat fans hoping the loss in the opener was a one-off and that things had gotten back on track.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Northwestern then followed up that massive win against Providence with another embarrassing loss at home to Radford on Tuesday. Admittedly, Radford is a lot better than Merrimack, rankings 116th nationally on KenPom. However, Northwestern’s offensive collapsed early on and the team could never come back. The loss dropped the team to 1-2 overall and left many wondering how rough things could get moving forward.
This week, Northwestern will get a chance to respond on Friday at home against Norfolk State. Fans will hope a win there can get things rolling again.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (--)
The Huskers finally scored a win last week on Friday night with a 17-point victory over South Dakota State at home. The win let some fans exhale after Nebraska lost its first two games to UC Riverside and Southern Utah.
Nebraska will hope to keep things rolling on Friday at home against Southern. This could be the team’s last chance for a win in awhile, so it’s going to be important to win this one.