What a wild week of action across the Big Ten. Two top contenders went down on Tuesday, some red hot teams like Iowa and Maryland were put to the test, and fans got to see some surprises from teams like Illinois and Minnesota.
That unpredictability give us an interesting set of power rankings this week. So, let’s take a look at where the Big Ten sits as of February 17th.
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 16 Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (--)
The Boilermakers had a mixed performance last week. Purdue opened up play with a loss on the road to Maryland on Tuesday night, but rebounded with a win against Penn State on Saturday to remain undefeated at home. As a result, Purdue now sits at 18-7 overall and 11-3 in Big Ten play entering the final stretch of the season.
Many fans were disappointed in Purdue’s performance on Tuesday against Maryland, but it’s important to put the loss in context. The Boilermakers had won eight in a row before falling on the road against a top 20 team on KenPom. That’s not something that should get fans down. It was one slip up that the team can overcome in the weeks ahead.
What’s interesting about Purdue moving forward is that its schedule sits somewhere between manageable and deceptive. The Boilermakers are favored in each of the team’s six remaining games, but none are locks. Even the most winnable game on paper (at home against Illinois) looks tricky. After all, Illinois has won four in a row and five of six.
This week, Purdue will go on the road to face Indiana on Tuesday night and Nebraska on the road on Saturday. This is a perfect microcosm of what’s to come for the Boilermakers. Both games look winnable, but each is tricky. Fans will hope for 1-1 or 2-0 in these games.
#2 - Michigan State Spartans (+2)
The Spartans had a great performance this week with two wins in two tricky games. Michigan State was able to go on the road and beat Wisconsin on Tuesday night and then followed that up with a win at home against a desperate Ohio State team on Sunday. The two wins pushed Michigan State to 21-5 overall and 12-3 in Big Ten play.
By any traditional measure, Michigan State’s resume remains incredibly impressive. The Spartans continue to add quality wins and now sit atop the Big Ten standings, tied with arch-rival Michigan. And things look good moving forward, as Michigan State currently projects as the favorite to win the Big Ten title as of Sunday evening.
However, there are some concerns. The Spartans are still trying to put the team’s recent struggles in the rear-view mirror and could be without Nick Ward for some time after he was injured in the game against the Buckeyes. As such, things could get really interesting in the next two weeks.
This week, Michigan State will face Rutgers at home on Wednesday night and Michigan on the road on Sunday. Fans are hoping to grab two wins.
#3 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+2)
The Hawkeyes only had one game this week, but came out on top in dramatic fashion on the road against Rutgers on Saturday night. The win pushed Iowa to 20-5 overall and 9-5 in Big Ten play. It also likely locked up an NCAA bid for the team. That’s big news considering that Iowa has missed the field the last few years.
Iowa will hope to keep things rolling this week with Maryland at home on Tuesday and Indiana at home on Friday night. The Hawkeyes should be hoping for two wins.
#4 - Michigan Wolverines (-2)
The Wolverines had some drastic swings this week. Michigan came into this week with plenty of momentum and appeared to have the inside track toward the Big Ten title. But all that momentum evaporated when Michigan lost on the road to Penn State on Tuesday night. Luckily, Michigan salvaged things by beating Maryland at home on Saturday.
Generally speaking, Michigan remains in good shape. The Wolverines are 23-3 overall and 12-3 in Big Ten play. The team still has five wins against top 25 KenPom opponents and 16 wins against top 100 opponents. Those are impressive accomplishments and are going to benefit the Wolverines significantly on Selection Sunday.
However, the loss to Penn State was a major blunder and the offense has shown some major issues recently. Moreover, the team is just 6-3 over its last nine games and players like Ignas Brazdeikis and Jon Teske have been inconsistent. If Michigan is going to get back to where it was earlier in the season, it’s going to need some of these players to bounce back.
This week, Michigan will get Minnesota on the road on Thursday night and Michigan State at home on Sunday. If Michigan is going to have a shot at winning the Big Ten title, it’s going to have to go at least 1-1 in these games.
#5 - Wisconsin Badgers (-2)
The Badgers only had one game this week and came up short on Tuesday night at home against Michigan State. It was a disappointing loss for a team that seemed to be hitting its stride and had really been playing well at home. All told, it dropped Wisconsin to 17-8 overall and 9-5 in Big Ten play. Wisconsin will return to action this week on Monday at home against Illinois and Saturday on the road against Northwestern.
#6 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terps had a relatively productive week, despite splitting the team’s games. Maryland opened the week with a win at home against Purdue on Tuesday night, but followed that with a loss on the road against Michigan on Saturday afternoon. Still, considering how tough it is to win in Ann Arbor, that’s a pretty good performance.
While the loss to Michigan likely knocks Maryland out of realistic contention for the Big Ten regular season title, there’s still a lot to play for the rest of the regular season. The Terps can still lock up a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament and have a shot at being a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong finish. As such, the last few weeks could be really important for the Terps.
Maryland will have two opportunities to add to its resume this week with Iowa on the road on Tuesday and Ohio State at home on Saturday. The Terps are hoping to come out with wins in both games.
#7 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)
The Illini are red hot right now. Despite starting the season at 4-12 overall, Illinois is now playing like one of the better teams in the league and in the nation. It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the Illini and speaks to Brad Underwood’s coaching acumen.
Since beating Minnesota on January 16th, Illinois has not only won 6 of its last 8 games, but it’s also playing at a fringe top 25 level. According to T Rank, Illinois has actually been the 30th most efficient team nationally since upsetting the Gophers. A pretty wild statement for a team that still has no realistic shot at an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.
Illinois will hope to keep things rolling this week with Wisconsin on the road on Monday night and Penn State at home on Saturday. A split here would be huge.
#8 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (--)
The Gophers had mixed results this week. Minnesota opened with a (controversial) loss on the road against Nebraska on Wednesday night, but rebounded with a blowout win over Indiana on Saturday afternoon. The split left Minnesota at 17-9 overall.
This week, Minnesota will get Michigan at home on Thursday night and Rutgers on the road on Sunday. Fans are hoping for at least a split as the Gophers try to ensure they make this year’s NCAA Tournament.
#9 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-2)
The Buckeyes had a disappointing week. Ohio State opened with a loss at home to Illinois on Thursday night and followed that up with a road loss against Michigan State on Sunday afternoon. The losses dropped Ohio State to 16-9 overall and 6-8 in league play.
It’s been a rough last few weeks for the Buckeyes. Not only has the team lost two straight, but Ohio State is only 4-8 over its last 12 games and the only notable win was against a reeling Nebraska team in late January. The struggles have put the Buckeyes in an uncomfortable position moving forward. Ohio State needs to stop the bleeding if it hopes to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State will hope to end its most recent skid on Wednesday at home against Northwestern. It will follow that up with Maryland on the road on Saturday.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (--)
The Scarlet Knights had mixed results this week with a win on the road against Northwestern on Wednesday and a loss to Iowa on Saturday night. The split left Rutgers at 12-13 overall and 5-10 in Big Ten play.
This week, Rutgers will face Michigan State on the road on Wednesday and Minnesota at home on Sunday. A split here would be huge for the team’s momentum going forward.
#11 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+2)
The Huskers finally got back in the win column this week after a horrid finish to January and start to February. Nebraska grabbed a win against Minnesota on Wednesday night at home and followed that up with a win over Northwestern on Saturday night. The wins pushed the team to 15-11 overall and 5-10 in Big Ten play.
These two wins not only finally got Nebraska back on track, but kept the team alive as an NCAA at-large squad for at least the time being. But the team’s substantial struggles over the last month and a half don’t give the Huskers much margin for error moving forward. As such, Nebraska is going to need to keep things rolling over the next few weeks.
Nebraska will get Penn State on the road on Tuesday and Purdue at home on Saturday. The Huskers really need to find a way to win at least one, if not both, of these games.
#12 - Indiana Hoosiers (-1)
The Hoosiers are in trouble. Despite an impressive start to the season, Indiana is in absolute free fall. And things really got rough this week, as Indiana got blown out on the road against Minnesota on Saturday night. The loss dropped the team to 13-12 overall.
At this point, it’s hard to argue that Indiana has any realistic shot at making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. The Hoosiers likely need at least three more regular season wins to even get in the discussion (let alone grab a bid) and Indiana is currently projected as an underdog in five of its six remaining regular season games.
However, Indiana does still have a path to make it. It’s just going to take a few upsets and something in the Big Ten Tournament. And it needs to start with getting others involved. The Hoosiers need to expand the offense beyond Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan, or find a way to better utilize those two. Otherwise, it could be a rough next few weeks.
This week, Indiana will hope to get things started with Purdue at home on Tuesday night and Iowa on the road on Friday. The Hoosiers need to win one of these two.
#13 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)
The Nittany Lions had quite a week. After opening Big Ten play with an abysmal 1-11 record, Penn State decided to pull off its most impressive win of the season on Tuesday at home against Michigan. It was a shocking upset that sent shockwaves throughout the Big Ten and nation. While Penn State couldn’t keep the momentum up on Saturday on the road against Purdue, it was still a pretty good week.
Penn State’s overall team profile remains underwhelming, but Tuesday’s win is certainly going to keep some positivity around this team for at least the next few weeks. The Nittany Lions will return to action on Tuesday at home against Nebraska and will also face Illinois on the road on Saturday.
#14 - Northwestern Wildcats (-2)
The Wildcats had two games this week and fell short in both matchups. Northwestern fell at home to Rutgers on Wednesday and to Nebraska on the road on Saturday. The Wildcats will hope to get back on track this week against Ohio State on the road on Wednesday and Wisconsin at home on Saturday.