After months of waiting, we’ve finally reached that special time again. That time of the season where nearly every game carries postseason and/or Big Ten title implications. Fans got treated to a number of great matchups this week, including marquee showdowns between Ohio State and Wisconsin and Michigan and Purdue. And of course, those games shook up things in these Power Rankings as well. Teams like Michigan moved up while others like Northwestern 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 Nine Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan Wolverines (+1)
The Wolverines had quite a week, scoring a 24-point win over Maryland at home on Tuesday and a 17-point win on the road against Purdue on Friday. The two wins propelled Michigan atop the Big Ten standings, to 13-1 overall, and to 8-1 in Big Ten play.
There’s little debating Michigan is absolutely rolling right now. Purdue entered the week playing as well as anybody in the Big Ten and found itself flummoxed by Michigan’s defense on Friday. Outside of the Minnesota loss on the 16th, no team has even kept it within single-digits against the Wolverines since Penn State did it in mid-December. That run not only includes a number of marquee wins for Michigan, but also includes fives games against top 50 KenPom opponents. That’s a remarkable level of play.
Unfortunately for Wolverine fans, the team is now going to be sidelined for two weeks on account of some COVID-19 related issues with Michigan Athletics. No one on Michigan’s basketball team has tested positive, but they are being shut down nonetheless. We’ll have to wait and see how the Wolverines emerge on the other side.
#2 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)
The Hawkeyes only had one game after the team’s matchup against Nebraska got cancelled. Unfortunately for Hawkeye fans, it didn’t end well. Iowa went down to Indiana at home on Thursday night in one of the more shocking results of the Big Ten season so far. It was Iowa’s first loss since Christmas Day on the road against Minnesota. The loss dropped the Hawkeyes to 12-3 overall and 6-2 in Big Ten play.
Let’s be clear. One random loss in January isn’t going to derail Iowa’s season. The Hawkeyes entered this year with massive expectations and Iowa can do little to over or underachieve those marks right now. Ultimately, things are going to come down to March, not a random matchup against Indiana in January. It’s still way too early to panic or make any major prognostications about Iowa after one game.
With all that said, Iowa put up a stinker of a performance on Thursday night. The Hawkeyes didn’t just lose, the team lost its fast ball. Iowa’s offense couldn’t do anything against Indiana in the final 10 minutes or so, which was an absolutely stunning sight to see. Of course, Iowa’s entire team is built on its offense (ranked first nationally by KenPom) and it’s hard to see the team achieving anything of significance if those issues don’t improve.
Iowa only gets one game this week, though it’s another big one against Illinois on the road on Friday night. A loss there would deal a massive blow to Iowa’s Big Ten title hopes.
#3 - Purdue Boilermakers (+3)
The Boilermakers were another team that had a mixed week, scoring a massive win on the road against Ohio State on Tuesday, but falling at home to Michigan on Friday. Purdue sits at 11-6 overall and 6-4 in Big Ten play after the split.
While the loss to Michigan likely killed Purdue’s hopes for a Big Ten regular season title, fans should still feel pretty good about where things are heading. The Boilermakers project to have one of the most manageable remaining slates in the conference and are already tied for fifth in the conference standings. Don’t be surprised if you look down and Purdue ends up with a really good seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
This week, Purdue will get Minnesota at home on Saturday. The Boilermakers project as moderate favorites.
#4 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)
The Buckeyes had quite a week, falling at home to Purdue on Tuesday night and responding with a 12-point road win over Wisconsin on Saturday. It was a remarkable turnaround and marked Ohio State’s second win in Madison in three tries. Ohio State now sits at 12-4 overall, 6-4 in Big Ten play, and 12th nationally on KenPom.
Ohio State will hope to continue its impressive play from last Saturday against one of its most manageable remaining week of the season. The Buckeyes will get Penn State at home on Wednesday and Michigan State at home on Sunday. Two wins could set up quite a closing stretch to the season for the Buckeyes.
#5 - Wisconsin Badgers (-2)
The Badgers had a mixed week, beating Northwestern at home on Wednesday night and falling to Ohio State at home on Saturday. The split left Wisconsin sitting at 12-4 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play. Notably, the Badgers are just 4-3 over the team’s last seven games.
While the loss to Ohio State isn’t necessarily that rough by itself, it had a pretty devastating impact on Wisconsin’s conference title hopes. The Badgers entered the weekend in great position to make a run at Michigan and Iowa in the weeks to come. However, the loss to the Buckeyes puts Wisconsin a full game back from Iowa and two full games back from Michigan. Winning the Big Ten is certainly still possible, but the loss means Wisconsin is going to need some serious help to get there.
This week, Wisconsin will get Maryland on the road on Wednesday and Penn State on the road on Saturday (the first leg in a back-to-back against the Nittany Lions). Wisconsin should be favored in both of these matchups. We’ll see if they can get the job done.
#6 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-2)
The Gophers had a tough week, falling in the team’s only game at home against Maryland on Saturday. It marked Minnesota’s first home loss of the season and dropped the Gophers to 11-5 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play. Minnesota’s overall resume still looks impressive, but that game is going to leave a mark as the Gopher offense struggled significantly.
Minnesota only gets one game this week with Purdue on the road on Saturday. The Gophers will hope to secure the team’s first road win of the season then.
#7 - Illinois Fighting Illini (--)
The Illini won the team’s only game last week at home against Penn State on Tuesday night. The win pushed Illinois to 10-5 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play. Illinois remains just two games out of first in the Big Ten title race. We’ll see if the Illini can make a run at it this week with Iowa at home on Friday night. If Illinois hopes to win the Big Ten, it’s hard to imagine that happening without a win this week.
#8 - Maryland Terrapins (+1)
The Terps had a relatively solid week. Maryland fell on the road against Michigan on Tuesday night, but responded with a huge win over Minnesota in The Barn on Saturday. It was Maryland’s third win already this season against a top 30 KenPom team on the road. Eric Ayala proved to be the difference in that one, finishing with 21 points and four rebounds.
Maryland is really starting to look like a bubble team. ESPN has the Terps among the last four teams in the field and it’s hard to argue with those projections. As such, every game is going to be vitally important moving forward, especially at home. Every win or loss could be the one to push Maryland in or out of the field. All of this sets up a huge matchup against Wisconsin at home on Wednesday.
#9 - Indiana Hoosiers (+1)
The Hoosiers had one of the most bizarre weeks of the season for any Big Ten team, going on the road and beating Iowa on Thursday night and following it up with a loss to Rutgers at home on Sunday. If Indiana had taken care of business against the Scarlet Knights, it would have shot up these Power Rankings. Instead, not much changed.
The split left Indiana sitting at 9-7 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play. Indiana is currently set to be off this week after Michigan got shut down for COVID-19 related reasons.
#10 - Michigan State Spartans (+1)
The Spartans were off after some COVID-19 related postponements. Michigan State is set to return to action on Thursday on the road against Rutgers and Sunday on the road against Ohio State. The team currently sits at 8-4 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play.
#11 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+2)
The Nittany Lions had an impressive week, beating Rutgers at home on Thursday and Northwestern at home on Saturday. The two wins pushed Penn State to 5-6 overall and 2-5 in Big Ten play. We’ll see if the team can continue that momentum this week with Ohio State on the road on Wednesday and Wisconsin at home on Saturday. The Nittany Lions project as clear underdogs in both games.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (--)
The Scarlet Knights opened the week with a rough loss on the road against Penn State on Thursday, but were able to bounce back with a road win over Indiana on Sunday. The win snapped Rutgers’ five-game losing streak and pushed the team to 8-6 overall and 4-6 in Big Ten play. Like Maryland and Indiana, this team feels like it’s going to be on the bubble when we get to March. It’s just going to come down to whether the team can grab some key wins.
This week, Rutgers will get Michigan State at home on Thursday and Northwestern on the road on Sunday. Both of these need to be wins if Rutgers wants to feel good about its position moving forward.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (-5)
The Wildcats struggled this week, falling on the road to Wisconsin on Wednesday and on the road against Penn State on Saturday. The two losses dropped Northwestern to 6-8 overall and 3-7 in Big Ten play. Northwestern has now lost seven straight dating back to a win over Ohio State on Boxing Day. Fans will hope the team can bounce back this week at home against Rutgers on Sunday.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (--)
The Huskers were off after some COVID-19 related postponements. Nebraska is set to return to action on February 3rd on the road against Michigan State. The team currently sits at 4-8 overall and 0-5 in Big Ten play.