What a week of college basketball. Things continue to heat up across the nation as we move closer to Selection Sunday and the Big Ten was no exception. Everyday seemed to come with a marquee matchup and a few teams rose, as others fell. And perhaps no Big Ten team looks as great as Maryland right now.
So, with that, let’s jump into this week’s 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 15 Power Rankings
#1 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terps had two important games last week and rose to the occasion during both opportunities. And while Maryland’s win over an overmatched Nebraska on Tuesday night at home was expected, few saw the Terps going on the road and beating a talented Michigan State team on Saturday night with College Gameday in the building. The win pushed Maryland to 21-4 overall and alone atop the Big Ten standings.
I write about this in last week’s Power Rankings, but Maryland is being vastly underrated on a national level. The Terps are a really good team and are more than capable of earning a top seed and delivering on it in March. The team has now won eight in a row, including four on the road and four wins over top 30 KenPom opponents. That’s an incredible run and it only adds to what was already an impressive resume.
This week, Maryland will look to solidify its spot in the Big Ten standings even further with two more intriguing games. The Terps will get Northwestern at home on Tuesday night and will travel to face Ohio State on Sunday. The game against the Buckeyes projects to be Maryland’s most difficult remaining game. A win there and the Big Ten title is in sight.
#2 - Penn State Nittany Lions (--)
The Nittany Lions had an incredibly impressive performance last week, beating Purdue on the road on Tuesday night and following that up with a win over Northwestern at home on Saturday afternoon. The wins pushed Penn State to 20-5 overall, 10-4 in Big Ten play, and second place in the Big Ten standings. The team is also 11th nationally on KenPom.
With last week’s wins, Penn State is now firmly in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of what happens over the next month. This will be Pat Chambers’ first trip to the Big Dance with the Nittany Lions and the program’s first trip since 2011. Obviously, congratulations are in order for Chambers and everyone with the program. He had many doubters (including myself), but has undeniably silenced them all this season.
And it’s important to also mention just how good Penn State has become this season. The Nittany Lions are just NCAA good. This is a team more than capable of earning a great seed and making a run as well. After all, Penn State is now above teams like Arizona, Louisville, and Texas Tech on KenPom. This team is for real, folks.
Penn State will look to keep things rolling this week with Illinois at home on Tuesday and Indiana on the road on Sunday. The Nittany Lions will likely be favored in both contests.
#3 - Iowa Hawkeyes (--)
The Hawkeyes had quite a week. After a disappointing performance on the road against Indiana on Thursday night, Iowa got back on track on Sunday with a dramatic come from behind win over Minnesota on the road. The split left Iowa sitting at 18-8 overall and 9-6 in Big Ten play. Iowa now seems just a win or two away from an NCAA bid.
This week, Iowa only has one game, which will come at home against a resurgent Ohio State team on Thursday night. The Hawkeyes project to be minor favorites in that one.
#4 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights had a mixed week. Rutgers lost on the road to Ohio State on Wednesday night, but were able to get back on track against Illinois at home on Saturday. The split left Rutgers sitting at 18-8 overall and 9-6 in Big Ten play. Rutgers is now likely just one win away from making its way into the NCAA Tournament. Something that would have been unfathomable to say just a few years ago.
This week, Rutgers will get two really intriguing games with Michigan at home on Wednesday night and Wisconsin on the road on Sunday. Rutgers will be a minor favorite in the first and a minor underdog in the second. They could go either way.
#5 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
The Illini had a really tough run last week. Illinois was in position to beat Michigan State at home on Tuesday night, but let it slip away in the final seconds. And to only make things worse, star guard Ayo Dosunmu was injured during the loss. The team then went on the road to face Rutgers, losing by double-digits without Dosunmu in the lineup.
While Illinois seemed to be in great shape entering February, the team has now lost four in a row and it’s anyone’s guess when Dosunmu will be back. Initial reports seemed positive, but you never can tell with injuries. The pressure is also starting to build, as Illinois still needs to do more to lock up an NCAA bid. Illinois is only 16-9 overall, even if it’s played a tough slate.
This week, Illinois only has one game, which will come on the road against Penn State on Tuesday night. A loss there and the pressure would continue to build.
#6 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+4)
The Buckeyes had a great week, beating Rutgers at home on Wednesday and Purdue at home on Saturday. The two wins pushed Ohio State to 17-8 overall and 7-7 in league play. After a rough January, Ohio State seems to have things back on solid footing.
Ohio State will now prepare for perhaps its toughest remaining week of the season. The Buckeyes will play on the road against Iowa on Thursday night and against Maryland at home on Sunday. Even a split would be a pretty good result.
#7 - Michigan Wolverines (+4)
The Wolverines had a nice week, beating Northwestern on the road on Wednesday night in blowout fashion and Indiana in lopsided fashion on Sunday at home. The two wins pushed Michigan to 16-9 overall and to 7-7 in Big Ten play. The Wolverines have now won five of the team’s last six games and have risen all the way to 14th on KenPom. Michigan now seems two or three games away from locking up an NCAA bid.
This week, Michigan has two challenging games on the docket with Rutgers on the road on Wednesday and Purdue on the road on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights are unbeaten at home and Michigan hasn’t won at Purdue since a dramatic overtime win in 2014. Even a split with those games on the docket would be noteworthy.
#8 - Michigan State Spartans (-1)
The Spartans are officially in trouble. After entering the season atop the rankings and in the national title hunt, the team is now in a free fall. Michigan State has lost four of its last five games and is just 4-6 over its last 10. The Spartans had mixed results last week, beating Illinois on Tuesday and falling to Maryland on Saturday, but fans are seriously concerned about a team that had such high hopes entering this season.
A combination of factors has led to the result struggles. Michigan State’s ball screen offense has struggled for consistency, the team’s role players aren’t providing enough, and the team’s point guard depth has been concerning. The good news is there’s still time to sort things out before March.
Michigan State only has one game this week, which comes on the road against Nebraska on Thursday night. The Spartans desperately need to find a way to win that one.
#9 - Purdue Boilermakers (-3)
Another step forward and two steps back. Purdue seemed to be building momentum entering last week after three straight wins. However, the Boilermakers fell flat this time around, losing at home to Penn State on Tuesday and on the road against Ohio State on Saturday afternoon. The two losses dropped Purdue to 14-12 overall.
We’re now 26 games into the season and the Boilermakers are as big of a mystery as ever. We know Purdue isn’t elite or terrible, but it’s difficult to figure out where this team slots in between those descriptions. Purdue has looked great at times and horrible at others. It’s also just 14-12 overall, but an impressive 24th nationally on KenPom. The same team that blew out Iowa, Michigan State, and Virginia also has losses to Nebraska and Texas.
If you can sort that all out, please let me know.
Where those results leave us, however, is with a team desperately searching for four or five more wins. And unfortunately for Boilermaker fans, that’s probably going to require a Big Ten Tournament run at this point. Purdue has just five regular season games remaining and figures to be an underdog in at least two of them. Every win is crucial at this point.
Purdue will begin its efforts this week with Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and Michigan at home on Saturday. The Boilermakers desperately need to find a way to win both.
#10 - Wisconsin Badgers (-1)
The Badgers only had one game last week, going on the road and beating Nebraska on Saturday afternoon. The win pushed Wisconsin to 15-10 overall and to 8-6 in league play. The Badgers will hope to keep things rolling this week with Purdue at home on Tuesday and Rutgers at home on Sunday. Two wins would be huge for the team’s postseason chances.
#11 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-3)
The Gophers only had one game last week, but fell short in it at home against Iowa on Sunday afternoon. It was a tough loss for fans to stomach after Minnesota seemed to be in control late. It dropped Minnesota to 12-12 overall and to 6-8 in league play.
The team will hope to get back on track this week with Indiana at home on Wednesday and Northwestern on the road on Sunday. An at-large NCAA Tournament bid seems out of the picture without a Big Ten Tournament run now. However, the team can help its postseason odds with some wins this week.
#12 - Indiana Hoosiers (--)
The Hoosiers had mixed results last week, beating Iowa at home on Thursday night and falling on the road against Michigan on Sunday afternoon. Indiana now sits at 16-9 as a result and desperately searching for a few more wins to lock up a postseason bid. That will start this week with Minnesota on the road on Wednesday and Penn State at home on Sunday. Even winning one of those games would be absolutely massive.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (--)
The Wildcats had two games on the docket last week and dropped both. Northwestern fell to Michigan at home on Wednesday night and to Penn State on the road on Saturday. The team dropped to 6-18 overall with the two losses. Northwestern will try and snap its nine-game skid this week against Maryland on the road on Tuesday and Minnesota at home on Sunday.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (--)
The Huskers also had a tough week, losing on the road against Maryland on Tuesday and to Wisconsin at home on Saturday. Matej Kavas was also lost for the season in the loss to the Badgers. Nebraska will now try and get back on track this week against Michigan State at home on Thursday.