There are some weeks where putting these Power Rankings together is a pretty easy task. Unfortunately, this was not one of them. After a hectic week of Big Ten play with a few marquee non-conference matchups throw in, it’s hard to separate a lot of the teams in the league right now. After all, we’re nearly through the appetizier of Big Ten play and not a single team has won on the road yet.
But chaos or not, 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 Six Power Rankings
#1 - Ohio State Buckeyes (--)
The Buckeyes only had one game last week and came up short on Sunday on the road against Minnesota. While it was only the team’s first loss of the season, it was a disappointing outing for fans, as Ohio State lost by double-digits to a Minnesota team that many believe won’t have a serious shot at the NCAAs in March.
But even with the loss, Ohio State’s resume to date is still extremely impressive. The Buckeyes are 9-1 overall and No. 1 nationally on KenPom. Any general measure indicates this is a great team that had an off night on the road in conference play. Fans certainly hope that’s the case as Ohio State prepares for two more games this week. The Buckeyes get Southeast Missouri State at home on Tuesday and Kentucky in Las Vegas on Saturday.
#2 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+3)
It feels odd to put Penn State this high after the last few years, but after another great week that included home wins over Maryland and Alabama, it’s justified. The Nittany Lions are now 9-2 overall, 1-1 in Big Ten play, and ranked in the top 25 in the weekly polls and on KenPom. This is a legitimately good team and it deserves praise.
Lamar Stevens has been the team’s best player to date, but the play of Mike Watkins also deserves credit. He’s been a shot blocking monster and a killer on the boards. In fact, Watkins ranks 30th nationally in defensive rebounding rate to date. Pairing those two alongside each other has been a nightmare for opponents.
We keep asking when the floor will fall out on this group, but we’re hitting the part of the season where we can start drawing bigger takeaways from the team’s play to date. We’re no longer a game or two into the season. Penn State has played 11 games and eight of them have come against top 100 opponents. We have real date about this squad.
This week, Penn State only has one matchup which will come on Friday at home against Central Connecticut. The Nittany Lions are 34-point favorites on KenPom in the game.
#3 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terps only had one game last week and came up short on the road against Penn State on Tuesday night. It was the team’s first loss of the season. However, like Ohio State, Maryland’s resume remains strong and it’s hard to get too down on a road loss to a top 25 opponent. Maryland remains seventh nationally on KenPom.
Maryland will now prepare for a marquee matchup this week against Seton Hall on the road on Thursday night. The Terps are narrow underdogs heading into tip and will need some good fortunate to escape with a win.
#4 - Michigan Wolverines (-2)
The Wolverines had two games last week and lost both matchups. Michigan opened up with a loss on the road to Illinois on Wednesday night and followed it up with a nailbiting loss to a really good Oregon team at home on Saturday afternoon. The two losses left Michigan sitting at 8-3 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
While some of the shine of Michigan has come off since its impressive performance in the Bahamas last month, this still projects as a quality team. It’s just probably not the top five squad that many thought a few weeks ago. We’ll see if the team can rebound on Saturday at home against Presbyterian.
#5 - Michigan State Spartans (+1)
The Spartans only had one game last week, which came on a neutral court against Oakland on Saturday afternoon. Michigan State was able to score an easy win over the Golden Grizzlies to improve to 7-3 overall this season. This team still remains strong in the metrics, despite its early struggles.
This week, Michigan State has two interesting matchups with Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and in-state foe Eastern Michigan at home on Saturday. These are two more opportunities for the team to build momentum heading into the Christmas season.
#6 - Indiana Hoosiers (+1)
While it still feels like the Hoosiers aren’t as good as their record, Indiana remains on a roll so far this year. The team scored two more wins last week over UConn and Nebraska and improved its record to 10-1 overall in the process. Many might be hesitant to buy in, but at some point, the results are the results. The Hoosiers just keep winning.
Indiana only has one game this week, which will take place on Saturday in the Crossroads Classic as the Hoosiers face Notre Dame on a neutral court. A win there would continue to build momentum around this program.
#7 - Purdue Boilermakers (-3)
The Boilermakers dropped the team’s only game last week, losing on the road to a struggling Nebraska team on Sunday evening. The loss dropped Purdue to 6-4 overall and 1-1 in league play. It was easily the team’s worst loss of the young season to date.
Purdue will hope to bounce back this week with two tricky matchups. The team will face Ohio on the road on Tuesday and Butler on a neutral court on Saturday. Two wins would really boost Purdue’s resume after an inconsistent start to the season.
#8 - Iowa Hawkeyes (--)
The Hawkeyes haven’t gotten much praise nationally this year, but are quietly putting together a really solid resume. And that improved last week as Iowa recorded two more wins. The team beat Minnesota at home on Monday night and followed that up with a road win against rival Iowa State. The wins pushed Iowa to 8-3 overall on the season.
Iowa has now risen all the way to 21st nationally on KenPom and has anther opportunity at a solid win this week with Cincinnati on a neutral court on Saturday. A win there and the NCAA buzz on this squad would only increase.
#9 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)
The Illini had quite a performance last week, scoring a massive upset win over Michigan on Wednesday at home and a win over Old Dominion at home on Saturday. The wins pushed Illinois to 8-3 on the season. The team also currently sits 39th nationally on KenPom.
We can’t ignore wins and losses, but it’s interesting to look at how close Illinois has been to really putting together a great resume to date. Illinois has won six of its last eight games and the two losses came to Miami (FL) and Maryland earlier this month. Those two losses were by a combined three points. A bucket here or there and we could be talking about Illinois as a potential Big Ten title contender. The team has been playing at a high level.
Illinois will hope to keep things rolling this week with Missouri on a neutral court on Saturday. A win there would setup a showdown with Michigan State on January 5th.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+2)
Don’t look now, but Rutgers is really starting to build some momentum. After a few easly season missteps, Rutgers scored two huge wins last week, beating Wisconsin at home on Wednesday and Seton Hall at home on Saturday. The wins pushed Rutgers to 8-3 overall and into the top 60 nationally on KenPom.
The question is now whether the Scarlet Knights can avoid a letdown this week with Lafayette coming to town on Sunday. This is a game Rutgers should win. We’ll see if the team can live up to expectations.
#11 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers had a mixed week or play last week. Minnesota lost on the road against Iowa by 20 points on Monday, but followed that up with a win over a previously undefeated Ohio State team at home on Sunday evening. The split left Minnesota sitting at 5-5 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play this season.
It’s still hard to see Minnesota building a resume good enough to make the NCAAs at this point, but the team will have a nice opportunity to improve its resume this week with Oklahoma State in Tulsa on Saturday. A win there should at least keep the momentum building.
#12 - Wisconsin Badgers (-3)
Ok, things are officially not going well in Madison. After a few tumultuous weeks to start the season, Wisconsin now sits at 5-5 overall and 1-1 in league play. The Badgers only had one game last week, losing to Rutgers on the road on Wednesday night. It was the team’s fourth loss in five games.
Wisconsin may figure some things out in the weeks and months to come, but it’s hard to view this group as an NCAA team as things currently sit. The Badgers are sitting at .500 through 10 games and have yet to win away from home in five tries. Playing great on the road isn’t a necessity to making the postseason, but it’s extremely hard to do anything significant without beating somebody there.
This week, Wisconsin will get Milwaukee at home on Saturday. This is a game the Badgers should win with ease.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers had largely positive results last week. Nebraska lost on the road against Indiana on Friday, but the game was hard fought and the Huskers only fell in overtime. And on Sunday, Nebraska responded to that loss by taking down a solid Purdue team at home in shocking fashion. The split left the Huskers sitting at 5-6 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
Nebraska will only have one game this week, which will come against North Dakota at home on Saturday. The Huskers are favored to win this one.
#14 -Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
The Wildcats had one game last week, beating SIU Edwardsville at home on Sunday afternoon. Given that SIU Edwardsville is ranked outside the top 300 on KenPom, there isn’t much to take away from that game. The Wildcats will now prepare for Michigan State at home on Wednesday and DePaul on the road on Saturday.