With January ending last week and yesterday being Super Bowl Sunday, we’ve officially rounded the corner into the heart of college basketball season. And that means the intensity is about to increase and every game gets more important. The Big Ten was as crazy as ever over the last seven days and it had quite an impact here as well.
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 13 Power Rankings
#1 - Maryland Terrapins (+2)
The Terps only had one game last week, but it was was a big one. Maryland hosted Iowa at home on Thursday night and scored its fourth win a row, improving to 17-4 overall and 7-3 in Big Ten play as a result. Maryland remains undefeated at home, hasn’t lost to anyone outside the top 30 on KenPom, and only has two losses since mid-December.
What’s really interesting about Maryland this season is how much the Terps have slipped under the radar. A lot of people have been critical of Maryland so far this season, but we’re into February and the Terps are still rolling. Maryland already has nine wins against top 60 opponents and has yet to lose a bad game. Those are some notable accomplishments as we continue to get closer to March.
This week is going to be a particularly important one for Maryland as the team hosts Rutgers on Tuesday and then goes on the road to face Illinois on Friday. Two wins and the Terps will be an undeniable Big Ten title contender.
#2 - Iowa Hawkeyes (--)
The Hawkeyes split the team’s games this week with a loss on the road against Maryland on Thursday and a win over Illinois at home on Sunday. The mixed results left Iowa sitting at 16-6 overall and 7-4 in league play. Iowa has also been one of the hotter teams in the Big Ten over the last month or so, having won six of its last seven games.
And Iowa enters this week with a major opportunity on the docket. The Hawkeyes face Purdue on the road on Wednesday and Nebraska at home on Saturday. Both games are certainly winnable and would boost Iowa’s resume significantly. We’ll see if the team can take care of business.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-2)
The Illini also split the team’s games last week, beating Minnesota at home on Thursday and falling to Iowa on the road on Sunday. This left Illinois sitting at 16-6 overall and 8-3 in league play. Sunday’s loss to Iowa snapped Illinois’ seven-game winning streak.
Illinois only has one game this week, but it will be a significant one with Maryland at home on Friday night. The Illini figure to be slight favorites. If Illinois is going to win the Big Ten, it feels like it needs to find a way to beat the Terps.
#4 - Michigan State Spartans (--)
The Spartans went 1-1 in the team’s games last week, with a home win against Northwestern on Wednesday night and a loss on the road to Wisconsin on Saturday. The split left Michigan State sitting at 16-6 overall and 8-3 in Big Ten play.
With 22 games in the books, Michigan State is sitting in an interesting position. The Spartans are clearly a solid team, ranking in the top 10 on KenPom and tied for first in the Big Ten standings. However, we’ve also seen some cracks. Michigan State is clearly vulnerable away from home and has regressed (at least somewhat) in the advanced stats over the last two months.
This week, Michigan State has two really intriguing games on the docket. The Spartans face Penn State at home on Tuesday and arch-rival Michigan on the road on Saturday. Score two wins and a lot of the critics will quiet down.
#5 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)
The Nittany Lions scored two nice wins last week, beating Indiana at home on Wednesday night and Nebraska on the road on Saturday. The wins pushed Penn State to 16-5 overall and in great position for the NCAA Tournament moving forward. We’ll see if the team can build on that with Michigan State on the road on Tuesday and Minnesota at home on Saturday. Two wins would really push Penn State forward.
#6 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1)
The Scarlet Knights had a mixed week with a win over Purdue at home on Tuesday night, but a loss to Michigan in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Despite the recent loss, Rutgers still remains in great shape moving forward. The team is sitting at 16-6 overall and 7-4 in Big Ten play.
Rutgers will hope to build on its current position this week with Maryland on the road on Tuesday and Northwestern at home on Saturday. Even a split would be a solid performance for the team’s long-term goals.
#7 - Wisconsin Badgers (--)
The Badgers had a pretty hectic week. Wisconsin lost to Iowa on the road on Monday night, but responded with a win over Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. During that span, the team also lost Kobe King to transfer and Brad Davison to suspension. It was one of the more bizarre six-day periods you will see in college basketball.
Regardless of what transpired over the last week, Wisconsin’s resume remains really intriguing. The Badgers are only 13-9 overall and 6-5 in Big Ten play, but the team is 30th nationally on KenPom and already has four wins over top 20 KenPom opponents. Wisconsin is also projected to finish somewhere around 18 to 20 wins, which would probably be good enough to make the NCAA field. But who knows how that goes without King on the roster.
This week, Wisconsin will get Minnesota on the road on Wednesday and Ohio State at home on Sunday. Both games look winnable on paper, but it won’t be easy. Two wins would dramatically help Wisconsin’s resume moving forward.
#8 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+3)
The Buckeyes only had one game last week and came out on top in it, besting Indiana at home on Saturday night. Ohio State is now 14-7 overall and has won two in a row for the first time since December 21st. Things will be tough this week with Michigan on the road on Tuesday and Wisconsin on the road on Sunday.
#9 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers dropped the team’s only game last week, falling on the road against Illinois on Thursday. The loss left Minnesota sitting at just 11-10 overall and 5-6 in Big Ten play. Minnesota is one of a few Big Ten teams sitting in an uncomfortable position. The Gophers seem like a decent group, but are running out of time to get the requisite wins to crack the NCAA field. Fans hope the team can bounce back this week with Wisconsin at home on Wednesday and Penn State on the road on Saturday.
#10 - Purdue Boilermakers (--)
While Purdue went 1-1 in its games last week, it’s hard to feel great about where the Boilermakers sit right now. Purdue isn’t a bad team and has played at a level that would get a lot of teams into the NCAA Tournament. But even with that said, Purdue’s running out of time to grab enough wins to feel good about its at-large chances. And with a loss to Rutgers on Tuesday night, things look even a bit tougher.
Purdue will enter this week with arguably its most important remaining week of the season. The Boilermakers will get Iowa at home on Wednesday night and Indiana on the road on Saturday. Both of these games are winnable, but they’re more than losable as well. Purdue very well could need two wins if it hopes to make the Big Dance at season’s end.
#11 - Michigan Wolverines (+2)
The Wolverines are another team in the Big Ten desperately trying to get enough wins to be on the right side of the bubble as we roll into February. And last week helped things, as Michigan beat Nebraska on the road on Tuesday and Rutgers in Madison Square Garden on Saturday to improve to 13-8 overall and 4-6 in Big Ten play.
When you’re a bubble team, every week is important, but the one approaching feels particularly significant for the Wolverines. The team will face arch-rival Ohio State at home on Tuesday night and another rival in Michigan State at home on Saturday. KenPom projects Michigan as a narrow favorite on Tuesday and a minor underdog against the Spartans. In short, neither game is guaranteed, but both are winnable. And it goes without saying, but two wins or two losses could drastically change Michigan’s season. We’ll see what happens.
#12 - Indiana Hoosiers (-3)
The Hoosiers had a rough week of play, losing on the road against Penn State on Wednesday and in Columbus on Saturday to a reeling Ohio State team. The losses dropped Indiana to 15-7 overall and to 5-6 in Big Ten play.
This week, Indiana only has one game, which will come against arch-rival Purdue at home on Saturday night. Hoosier fans will hope the team can snap its three-game skid.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (--)
The Huskers lost both of the team’s games last week, falling at home to Michigan on Tuesday and at home against Penn State on Saturday. The team now sits at 7-15 overall. Fans will hope the team can bounce back this week with Iowa on the road on Saturday. Nebraska beat the Hawkeyes earlier this season.
#14 - Northwestern Wildcats (--)
The Wildcats actually fought pretty well last week, but lost both of the team’s games. Northwestern lost on the road against Michigan State on Wednesday and at home to Purdue on Saturday. The team is now 6-15 overall and will hope to get back on track this week against Rutgers on the road on Sunday.