Another week and another loaded slate of Big Ten action. Conference play got into full swing this week and we got the final weekend of non-conference matchups, including a massive showdown between Iowa and Gonzaga on Saturday. Additionally, we also got to see teams like Indiana, Ohio State, and Purdue face off against quality opponents.
And of course, we got to see a number of changes in these rankings as a result. Teams like Rutgers and Wisconsin rose, while others like Illinois and Michigan State dropped. It should set up another interesting week of play.
So, without further adieu, here are my current Big Ten power rankings:
Big Ten Week Four Power Rankings
#1 - Iowa Hawkeyes (--)
The Hawkeyes only had one game this week, but it was a big one. Iowa faced off against top ranked Gonzaga in Sioux Falls on Saturday in what many considered the biggest non-conference matchup of the regular season. And while Iowa came up short against the Bulldogs, it’s hard to knock a team for falling shot against the nation’s best team. In fact, Iowa actually did enough during the game to think it has a shot at winning a rematch.
Perhaps the biggest thing we learned in Iowa’s loss was how much the team still has to work on defensively. The Hawkeyes struggled to slow down Gonzaga in transition and let the Bulldogs’ backcourt do far too much damage. It’s going to be on players like Jordan Bohannon to step up their game.
Iowa will hope to bounce back this week with Purdue at home on Tuesday and Minnesota on the road on Christmas Day. The Hawkeyes are expected to be favored in both matchups.
#2 - Wisconsin Badgers (+2)
The Badgers had an outstanding week, beating a really good Loyola (Chicago) team at home on Tuesday and annihilating a top 25 ranked Louisville squad at home on Saturday afternoon. It was the program’s most dominant win over a top 25 team ever. The two wins pushed Wisconsin to 6-1 overall. The team’s lone loss remains a controversial slip on the road against a quality Marquette squad.
Wisconsin is now set to get an interesting slate of games this week with Nebraska at home on Tuesday and Michigan State on the road on Christmas Day. KenPom favors the Badgers in both games, but even a split would be welcome news to fans.
#3 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+2)
The Scarlet Knights were another team that had a great week. Rutgers knocked off Maryland on the road on Monday night and followed that up with a win over Illinois at home on Sunday. It was the team’s best win of the season and pushed Rutgers to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. Rutgers is also now up to 17th nationally on KenPom. Ron Harper also looks like he’s going to have a serious shot at All-Big Ten first team status.
This week, Rutgers will hope to keep its momentum going with Ohio State on the road on Wednesday night. Should the Scarlet Knights pull it off against the Buckeyes, it would be the team’s first 7-0 start in more than 20 years.
#4 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
The Illini had a mixed week of play, blowing out Minnesota at home on Tuesday night and falling on the road to Rutgers on Sunday. The split left Illinois sitting at 5-3 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play. All told, it’s been a tough run for the team. Despite a top 15 rankings, Illinois is just 2-3 over its last five games. Fans will have to hope for a quick rebound.
The good news is Illinois should get two great opportunities to rebound with Penn State on the road on Wednesday and Indiana at home on Saturday. Given the team’s recent slips, both of these really need to be wins.
#5 - Michigan State Spartans (-3)
The Spartans had a rough week. Michigan State only played one game, but disaster struck during the lone matchup, as the team fell on the road to Northwestern on Sunday night. It was the team’s first loss of the season and is going to leave a mark on Michigan State’s resume moving forward. After all, Michigan State was ranked fourth before the game, but fell short against a team that lost to Pittsburgh earlier this month.
The loss to Northwestern did seem a bit fluky, but the team’s defense struggled against the Wildcats. Michigan State’s frontcourt also had a rough night, with Joey Hauser and Thomas Kithier combining for just seven points in 40 minutes of game time. Tom Izzo will have to hope to get more production from the big men moving forward.
Michigan State now sits at 6-1 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play and will hope to bounce back this week with Wisconsin at home on Christmas Day. It figures to be the team’s toughest game of the young season.
#6 - Michigan Wolverines (+1)
The Wolverines were off this week after beating Penn State at home last Sunday. Michigan will return to action on Christmas Day on the road against Nebraska. It will mark the team’s first road game of the young season.
#7 - Indiana Hoosiers (+1)
The Hoosiers had a solid performance this week, beating Butler in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon to improve to 5-2 overall. The team’s defense remains impressive and Trayce Jackson-Davis looks like a serious All-American candidate. Fans are hoping the backcourt continues to improve in the weeks ahead.
Indiana will hope to keep its momentum going with Northwestern at home on Wednesday and Illinois on the road on Saturday. This is the kind of week where a team can drastically change its season outlook. Win both and the Hoosiers will start getting some Big Ten title consideration. Win one and things remain in play. However, lose both and things could get difficult moving forward. We’ll have to wait and see what ends up happening.
#8 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-2)
The Buckeyes had a mixed week of play, falling on the road against Purdue on Wednesday and beating UCLA in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon. The split left Ohio State sitting at 6-1 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play.
Perhaps the most significant news for Ohio State this week was the return of EJ Liddell and Seth Towns to the court on Saturday. The team’s success this year is going to be dictated by those two, so seeing them back out there has to be a welcome sight for Buckeye fans.
This week, Ohio State will get Rutgers at home on Wednesday and Northwestern on the road on Saturday. Both of these look like winnable games, but neither is anything close to a guarantee. Chris Holtmann and staff will have their hands full.
#9 - Penn State Nittany Lions (--)
The Nittany Lions were off last week. The team remains 3-2 overall following a loss to Michigan on the road on December 13th. Penn State will hope to rebound this week with Illinois at home on Wednesday for the team’s lone matchup.
#10 - Purdue Boilermakers (+1)
The Boilermakers had a great week of playing, knocking off a ranked Ohio State team at home on Wednesday night and a solid Notre Dame program in Indianapolis on Saturday evening. The two wins pushed Purdue to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play.
Purdue will now get a crucial week of play with Iowa on the road on Tuesday and Maryland at home on Christmas Day. If the Boilermakers are going to keep things rolling, the team really needs to find a way to split those matchups.
#11 - Northwestern Wildcats (+2)
The Wildcats had an outstanding week of play, beating Quincy at home on Tuesday and upsetting a top five Michigan State team at home on Sunday evening. The wins pushed Northwestern to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play.
Boo Buie was the star for Northwestern this week, scoring 30 points in the team’s upset win over the Spartans. The team’s defense also really stepped up, holding Michigan State to an underwhelming 0.94 points per possession. It was a fantastic performance and speaks volumes about the team’s potential long-term.
Northwestern will now hope to continue the positive momentum with Indiana on the road on Wednesday and Ohio State at home on Saturday. Both games look challenging, but the Michigan State game looked difficult as well.
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (-2)
The Terps only had one game this week and fell short in it, falling at home to Rutgers on Monday night. The loss dropped Maryland to 4-2 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play. The Terps did pretty well in the first half, but fell apart in the second. Fans had to be discouraged by the final score as well, as Maryland ended up losing by a 14-point margin.
Maryland will now get another interesting week with La Salle at home on Tuesday and Purdue on the road on Christmas Day. Both games project to be a challenge. Fans should be hoping for at least a split.
#13 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers split the team’s games this week, losing handsomely to Illinois on the road on Tuesday and rebounding against a solid Saint Louis team at home on Sunday. After the split, Minnesota now sits at 7-1 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota will now get a few days off before hosting a huge game against Iowa on Christmas Day. A win there and Gopher fans would be pretty excited.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (--)
The Huskers only had one game this week, beating an overmatched Doane at home on Thursday night. The win pushed Nebraska to 4-3 overall. Nebraska will hope to keep things rolling this week with Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and Michigan at home on Christmas Day. Even a split here would be great news for Husker fans.