What a great week of college basketball, huh? While many of the headlines were overtaken by cancellations (what a bummer to see Gonzaga-Baylor cancelled, right?), there were a plethora of great games played over the last seven days, including many for the Big Ten.
And while most of the games pitted Big Ten teams against overmatched foes, there were a handful of marquee matchups. In particular, Michigan State, Penn State, and Wisconsin all faced some stiff competition. It led to some significant changes in this week’s rankings.
So, without further adieu, here are my current Big Ten power rankings:
Big Ten Week Two Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan State Spartans (+2)
The Spartans had a monstrous week, beating Duke on the road on Tuesday, Detroit Mercy at home on Friday, and Western Michigan at home on Sunday. The wins pushed Michigan State to 5-0 overall and 13th nationally on KenPom.
It’s still early, but Michigan State is quickly putting together quite a resume. To start, the win over Duke speaks for itself. We all know how hard it is to beat the Blue Devils, let alone do it on the road in convincing fashion. It’s not like Michigan State beat Duke without a star player or on a buzzer beater. The Spartans controlled the game and pulled off the win on the road.
And Michigan State has more than just its win over Duke. The Spartans beat Notre Dame in late November and also beat what could be quietly good Eastern Michigan and Detroit squads. If those teams continue trending up, the resume is only going to look better.
But as is typical of Michigan State under Tom Izzo, things will remain difficult moving forward. This week, the Spartans will get Virginia on the road on Wednesday and Oakland at home on Sunday. The matchup against the Cavaliers looks particularly intriguing, as the Hauser brothers will face off. Two wins and the team is going to start being able to think about a one or two seed in March, assuming things go well in league play.
#2 - Iowa Hawkeyes (--)
The Hawkeyes only had one game this week, but moved up after another dominating performance to improve to 3-0 overall. Iowa beat down Western Illinois at home on Thursday. Luka Garza remains a monster, finishing with 35 points in the win.
Iowa will now get its biggest week of the young season with North Carolina at home on Tuesday, arch-rival Iowa State at home on Friday, and Northern Illinois at home on Sunday. Three wins and Iowa would establish itself as an unquestioned top 10 team. This is the week when the Hawkeyes can silence the critics.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+1)
The Illini were supposed to play two games this week, but only ended up with one after a COVID-19 related cancellation. The lone remaining game as a big one, though, as it had Illinois facing off against a top five Baylor team on a neutral court on Wednesday. Illinois held up well early, but couldn’t keep up in the second half, falling by an 82-69 margin.
Through four games, there are still a lot of divergent opinions on Illinois and rightfully so. Illinois has been thoroughly inconsistent so far. The team looked utterly dominant in its first two games and during the first half against Baylor, but also looked pretty underwhelming against Ohio and in the second half against the Bears. As a result, this still feels like this team that could swing in a variety of directions moving forward. A lot is going to depend on whether the team’s defense and turnovers improve. Both have been rough spots so far.
This week, Illinois sets up for a massive week of play. The Illini get Duke on the road on Tuesday as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and Missouri on the road on Saturday. Two wins and Illinois would be considered a legitimate contender. However, two losses and many are going to start throwing the “overrated” moniker around. There will be plenty of pressure on Brad Underwood and his staff this week.
#4 - Wisconsin Badgers (-3)
The Badgers had a mixed week. Wisconsin beat Green Bay at home on Tuesday, but fell on the road in an incredible battle with Marquette on Friday. The two teams went back and forth during the final minutes before DJ Carton delivered with some big buckets for the Golden Eagles. The loss to Marquette dropped Wisconsin to 3-1 overall heading into a key week of the season.
Through four games, Wisconsin’s resume is a bit lacking. However, that’s to be expected when you fall short in your only “real” game. Fans will hope the team can bounce back this week with a game against Louisville at home on Wednesday. It’s a great chance for Wisconsin to start building its resume. We’ll see how things shake out.
#5 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (--)
The Scarlet Knights were off this week after opening the season at 3-0. The team will return to action on Tuesday at home against Syracuse. Rutgers figures to be a narrow favorite in the game. It’s a chance for the program to make a statement.
#6 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terps continued to impress this week, blowing out St. Peter’s at home on Sunday. And while the Peacocks aren’t a great team, they were a tad better than most “buy” opponents Big Ten teams will see this season. The win pushed Maryland to 4-0 overall.
The best part of Maryland’s play so far has been Eric Ayala. He’s putting up some incredible numbers so far and could be the difference maker for the Terps this season. He’s scored double-digits in all four games and the team is going to depend on his success.
This week, Maryland will get a big game on Wednesday on the road against Clemson. KenPom projects the Terps as underdogs, but it should be close. Don’t be surprised if Maryland figures out a way to come out on top.
#7 - Ohio State Buckeyes (--)
The Buckeyes only had one game after a COVID-19 cancellation, but came out on top in it, beating Morehead State at home on Wednesday. The win pushed the team to 3-0 overall. Ohio State will now get Notre Dame on the road on Tuesday and Cleveland State at home on Sunday. The Buckeyes will be solid favorites in both games.
#8 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
The Wolverines really had a nice performance this week, beating Ball State at home on Wednesday and UCF at home on Sunday. Both teams ranked in the top 140 on KenPom and were thought to be tricky games for Michigan. Instead, Michigan cruised to clear victories over both, improving to 4-0 on the year.
Michigan is now set to have quite a week with North Carolina State at home on Wednesday and Penn State at home on Sunday. Two wins and Michigan could start to get itself in line for a top half finish in the Big Ten this year. KenPom favors the Wolverines in both games.
#9 - Indiana Hoosiers (--)
The Hoosiers had an eventful week with the 2020 Maui Invitational on Monday through Wednesday. Indiana scored wins over Providence and Stanford, but fell to a really talented Texas team on Tuesday. Indiana now sits at 3-1 after those three games. The team’s resume remains strong and the Hoosiers appear to be in the serious NCAA Tournament hunt.
This week, Indiana will get Florida State on the road and North Alabama at home on Sunday. Two wins and the Hoosiers could really turn some heads nationally. In particular, Florida State enters this season with high expectations. Beating the Seminoles on the road would be quite an accomplishment for the Hoosiers.
#10 - Purdue Boilermakers (--)
The Boilermakers added two wins to the team’s resume this week with a blowout win over Oakland on Tuesday night and a squeaker against Valparaiso on Friday. The wins pushed Purdue to 3-1 overall with the team’s only loss coming against Clemson, who’s been really impressive so far.
While it’s still early, Purdue very much appears to be a “wait and see” type of team. There’s enough here to think the team could get hot as the season continues, but also enough to be concerned about the Boilermakers moving forward. Zach Edey has been a bright spot and Trevion Williams remains solid. Unfortunately, the backcourt is still inconsistent and fans are still waiting on improvement from players like Aaron Wheeler. We’ll have to wait and see how things come together.
Fortunately, fans will have some of those questions answered with two big games on the slate this week. Purdue gets Miami (FL) on the road on Tuesday and Indiana State at home on Saturday. Boilermaker fans have to be hoping for a sweep.
#11 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)
The Nittany Lions looked like they were in position to have one of the best weeks across the Big Ten until things went off the rails against Seton Hall on Sunday night. Penn State beat VCU early in the week off a buzzer beater and were about to finish off the Pirates before allowing a huge Seton Hall run in the second half. At one point, Seton Hall only had a 2.2 percent chance to win. Penn State eventually fell 98-92 in overtime.
Through three games, Penn State has looked better than expected. Unfortunately, things are going to start getting really tough this week with Virginia Tech on the road on Tuesday and Michigan on the road on Sunday. KenPom gives Penn State odds under 30 percent in both of the matchups. Fans are hoping the team can surprise yet again.
#12 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers went 2-0 this week, beating Loyola Marymount (again) on Monday night and following it up with a convincing win over North Dakota on Friday. The wins pushed Minnesota to 4-0 overall. Marcus Carr once again led the way. The guard is starting to put together an absolutely fantastic statistical profile.
Minnesota will now get an important week with Boston College at home on Tuesday and UMKC at home on Thursday. If the Gophers are going to improve on last season’s struggles, both of these games need to be wins. KenPom has Minnesota favored in both.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats went 2-0 this week to open the season with wins over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Chicago State. Both wins came by well over 30 points and made many think the Wildcats have improved from last year’s struggles. However, we probably need to see a bit more, as both opponents were heavily overmatched.
This week, Northwestern will get Pittsburgh at home on Wednesday and SIU-Edwardsville at home on Sunday. Two wins and it would be pretty clear that Northwestern has taken a step forward from last season.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Huskers won the team’s only game last week, beating South Dakota at home on Tuesday by seven points. It was a relatively underwhelming effort based on Nebraska’s first week of play. Nebraska will now get ready for a huge week of play with Georgia Tech at home on Wednesday and Creighton at home on Friday. Even a split would be huge.