What a week of basketball. Things might have been slow for a week or two across the Big Ten earlier in November, but boy did they heat up over the last few days. Not only did we see a plethora of teams travel across the country to play in places like the Bahamas, Maui, and the Cayman Islands, but they also faced off against quality competition as well.
And with those results in mind, 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 Four Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan Wolverines (+5)
The Wolverines were sixth in last week’s Power Rankings, but jumped all the way atop this list after putting together a phenomenal three-day run in the Battle 4 Atlantis last week. Michigan beat Iowa State on Wednesday, North Carolina on Thanksgiving, and Gonzaga on Black Friday. The three wins left Michigan sitting 10th on KenPom and at 7-0 overall.
And while the wins were impressive, it was how Michigan did it that turned so many heads over the last few days. The Wolverines absolutely dominated in the three games. Even though Iowa State and North Carolina lost by less than 10 points, those margins were pretty misleading. For instance, Michigan never dropped below 95 percent in-game odds to beat North Carolina on Thursday, even though the Tar Heels closed things up.
Michigan will now prepare for another challenging week with a road trip to face Louisville on Tuesday and a matchup against Iowa at home on Friday night. If the Wolverines can somehow win those two games, it seems likely Michigan would be sitting atop the rankings in a week’s time. Nonetheless, beating Louisville on the road won’t be easy. If Michigan can even go 1-1 in those games, it should feel pretty good about its performance.
#2 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes played two underwhelming teams at home last week in Kent State and Morgan State and came out on top in both games. As a result, Ohio State now sits at 7-0 overall and is now in the top five nationally on KenPom.
Ohio State will now prepare for quite a week with North Carolina on the road on Wednesday and Penn State at home on Saturday. Both are currently top 25 teams on KenPom. As such, it’s easy to see why the Buckeyes will have their hands full in the days to come.
#3 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terps were another team that put together an impressive week of play. Maryland grabbed three wins in Florida in its non-conference tournament over Temple, Harvard, and Marquette. The wins pushed Maryland to 8-0 overall and to 8th on KenPom. It’s the program’s first 8-0 start since the 2006-’07 season.
Perhaps the most significant part of Maryland’s performance last week is the understanding that the Terps now have a legitimate resume win. Maryland had plenty of preseason accolades, but had yet to beat anyone of significance. That ended on Sunday when the Terps beat Marquette by 21 points. This team is now starting to get national respect.
This week, Maryland will hope to keep things rolling with Notre Dame at home on Wednesday and Illinois at home on Saturday. Two wins seem likely, which could vault Maryland even higher in the human and computer rankings.
#4 - Michigan State Spartans (-2)
The Spartans were hoping for some magic last week, as the team headed west to play in the Maui Invitational. Unfortunately, things started off on the wrong foot with a loss to Virginia Tech on Monday. Michigan State was able to respond by beating Georgia and UCLA over the next two days, but the opening round loss put a major damper on the entire trip.
What’s interesting about this Michigan State team is how much it has swung this season. The Spartans have looked like a powerhouse at times, but have also looked like a fringe NCAA squad at others. Improving consistency will have to be a major goal for the team moving forward.
The good news is that the Spartans will get two great opportunities to prove the team is growing with Duke at home on Tuesday night and Rutgers at home on Sunday. Two wins there and many of the doubters will quiet down about the Spartans.
#5 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions had a mixed week of play with a loss on a neutral court against Ole Miss on Wednesday and a win over Syracuse on Friday. The split left Penn State sitting 6-1 overall with a decent looking resume so far. Penn State has three wins over top 100 opponents to date, with two coming away from home.
While I still think Penn State’s spot at 24th on KenPom is a tad high, this squad has played really well and deserves some credit. The Nittany Lions will look to keep the momentum going this week with Wake Forest at home on Wednesday and Ohio State on the road on Saturday. Even a split would be great under the circumstances.
#6 - Indiana Hoosiers (-1)
The Hoosiers very reasonably could be higher on this list. Indiana currently sits at 7-0 overall and scored two more wins last week against Louisiana Tech and South Dakota State. However, Indiana has still yet to play anyone of substance. Louisiana Tech is Indiana’s toughest opponent to date and sits 84th on KenPom. As such, I had a really hard time putting the Hoosiers any higher on this list. It’s time to start playing someone.
Indiana will get that opportunity this week, however, with Florida State coming to town on Tuesday. The Hoosiers will then follow that up with a road trip to Madison on Saturday. Both of these games are winnable. And we’re going to learn a lot more about this squad because of that in the days to come.
#7 - Purdue Boilermakers (--)
The Boilermakers had a mixed week with a win over VCU on Friday, but a loss to Florida State in overtime on Saturday. The split left Purdue sitting at 4-3 overall heading into the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and the team’s rematch against Virginia on Tuesday. The Boilermakers still seem to be a good team, but it’s hard to call them great just yet.
As noted above, Purdue will get Virginia at home on Tuesday and then will face Northwestern at home on Sunday. Anything other than two wins will be considered a disappointment for Boilermaker fans.
#8 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+3)
The Hawkeyes had a mixed week with a win over Texas Tech on Thursday night and a loss to San Diego State on Friday. Given that Iowa seemed unlikely to win either of its games in Las Vegas heading into the tournament, it’s hard to complain about that result. The win over Texas Tech could be really impressive as we get closer to Selection Sunday.
Iowa will now face arguably its toughest week of the season with Syracuse on the road on Tuesday and Michigan on the road on Friday. If the Hawkeyes can even steal one of those games, fans will likely be pleased.
#9 - Illinois Fighting Illini (--)
The Illini had one game last week and it came against Lindenwood on Tuesday. The win left the team sitting at 6-1 overall. Illinois will now get ready for a huge week with Miami (FL) at home on Monday night and Maryland on the road on Saturday. Fans are hoping that the Illini can steal at least one of these games.
#10 - Wisconsin Badgers (-2)
The Badgers had a horrifying week of play last week, dropping both games in the team’s non-conference tournament on Monday and Tuesday night. Wisconsin lost to Richmond on Monday and New Mexico on Tuesday. The losses dropped the team to 4-3 overall.
It’s hard to get a read on this team at this point. Wisconsin now has a great win over Marquette on its resume, a close loss to a good St. Mary’s team, and two bad losses. It’s hard to tell whether the win over Marquette is the way to measure this team, or whether we should look at the team’s two rough losses over the last week. It’s really anybody’s guess at this point.
This week, Wisconsin will get NC State on the road on Wednesday and Indiana at home on Saturday. Both of these games are winnable on paper, but both look like competitive matchups. As such, Wisconsin should hope to go at least 1-1 in these games. Two losses could really derail things moving forward.
#11 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers have arguably been the most frustrating team in the Big Ten this season. Not because Minnesota is bad, but because it’s been so close to being great. Minnesota continued that last week by dropping its only game at home against DePaul on Friday night. The game was competitive, but the Gophers couldn’t close. Minnesota now sits at 3-4 overall with all four of its losses coming in tough games.
Minnesota will have a chance to get back on track this week with Clemson at home on Monday night. A win there would alleviate a lot of the concerns moving forward.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (--)
The Scarlet Knights had two games last week and came out on top in both matchups, beating NJIT on Tuesday and UMass on Friday. The wins pushed Rutgers to 6-1 overall heading into an important week of the season. Rutgers will get Pittsburgh on the road on Tuesday and Michigan State on the road on Sunday. A win in either of those games would be huge for the team’s hopes moving forward.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (--)
The Wildcats split the team’s games last week, beating Bradley on Monday night and losing to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The mixed results left Northwestern sitting at 3-3 overall. Northwestern will now face Boston College on the road on Tuesday and Purdue on the road on Sunday. If the Wildcats are going to start getting things going, it seems like something will have to start showing this week.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (--)
The Huskers went 2-1 in the team’s games last week, beating Washington State on Monday, losing to George Mason on Tuesday, and rebounding with a win voer South Florida on Wednesday. Unfortunately, given that all three opponents are outside the top 100 on KenPom, a 2-1 performance against that slate isn’t going to turn many heads nationally.
Nebraska will hope to avoid two losses this week with Georgia Tech on the road on Wednesday and Creighton on the road on Saturday. The game against the Bluejays will certainly be notable. Nebraska won last year’s matchup, so Creighton will certainly be looking for some revenge.