The Big Ten had a fantastic week of play. It was the final loaded week of play of 2021 for the conference and we got to see a litany of marquee league games and non-conference matchups, including two key games for No. 1 Purdue and a ranked matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin over the weekend. Of course, it led to some serious shakeups in these Rankings.
So, let’s take a look at this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week Five Power Rankings
#1 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)
Another week and another two quality wins. Ohio State beat Towson at home on Wednesday and then followed it up with an impressive 18-point win over Wisconsin at home on Saturday. The wins pushed the Buckeyes to 8-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. Ohio State has now won four straight, including two against ranked teams. It’s been quite a run.
Perhaps the most significant development has been on the defensive end. The Buckeyes were a mess defensively last season, but have shown a lot of promise there this year. The team is up to 51st nationally in defensive efficiency and it should only continue to rise from there. On Saturday, Ohio State held Wisconsin to just 0.77 points per possession.
This week, Ohio State only has one game, which will come on Saturday against Kentucky. The game will be in the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. A win there and the Buckeyes might be able to push for a top 10 ranking in the weeks ahead.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (-1)
The Boilermakers had an action packed week. Purdue opened the week up by earning its first No. 1 ranking in the program’s history. Unfortunately, the excitement over the ranking didn’t last long as Purdue followed it up with a tough loss on the road against Rutgers on Thursday. Fortunately, the Boilers rebounded with a win over North Carolina State on Sunday. However, the loss to the Scarlet Knights will almost certainly mean Purdue will drop from No. 1 on Monday morning.
Still, despite the slip against Rutgers, things look pretty solid for the Boilers. The team sits at 9-1 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play and already has five wins over top 80 KenPom opponents. By any reasonable measure, Purdue is setting itself up for serious consideration as a one seed in March. There’s a long way to go, but that’s certainly noteworthy.
Purdue will get one final non-conference test this week with Butler in the Crossroads Classic on Saturday. A win there and the team should be able to win out into the new year.
#3 - Michigan State Spartans (-)
The Spartans had a great week, knocking off a previously unbeaten Minnesota team on the road on Wednesday and Penn State at home on Saturday. The wins pushed Michigan State to 9-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. Notably, Michigan State has now amassed six wins against top 90 KenPom opponents. That’s going to go a long way on Selection Sunday.
Michigan State will now get a much needed bye week. The Spartans will resume play on December 21st in Detroit against Oakland.
#4 - Wisconsin Badgers (+1)
The Badgers had a mixed week of play, beating Indiana at home on Wednesday and falling on the road against Ohio State on Saturday. The split left Wisconsin sitting at 8-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
While Wisconsin’s overall resume remains solid, it’s important to put the last week in proper context. The Badgers went 1-1, but did it pretty unimpressively. It took a miraculous comeback effort to skate by Indiana at home on Wednesday and the loss to the Buckeyes was particularly rough, coming by 18 points in a game many thought would be competitive before tip. There will be a lot of eyes on Wisconsin to see how they respond in the weeks ahead.
Wisconsin’s only game this week will be on Wednesday, when the Badgers face off against Nicholls State at home. It figures to be a lopsided affair.
#5 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+1)
Illinois split the team’s games this week, beating Iowa on the road on Monday and falling to Arizona at home on Saturday evening. As a result, Illinois is now 7-3 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. Andre Curbelo also remains sidelined.
Many Illinois fans are certainly disappointed about the missteps against Arizona, but that game felt more like Illinois running into a buzzsaw than anything else. The Wildcats look like a Final Four squad and Illinois just came up short. Illinois is still trending in the right direction. Sometimes you just run into the wrong team at the wrong time.
Illinois only gets one game this week, which will come at home on Saturday against St. Francis (PA). It should be a win for Illinois.
#6 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-2)
The Hawkeyes had a pretty rough week, falling at home against Illinois on Monday and in blowout fashion on the road against rival Iowa State on Thursday. The two losses dropped the team to 7-3 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play.
Perhaps the most disappointing part of the week was Iowa’s underwhelming offensive performance against Iowa State. The Hawkeyes only scored 53 points and finished with 0.80 points per possession. That’s just not something you expect to see from Iowa and it should be a concerning sign moving forward. Iowa State seems like a great team, but expect other Big Ten teams to try and replicate what the Cyclones did.
Iowa only has one game this week, which will come in Sioux Falls against Utah State on Saturday. It projects to be a pretty competitive matchup and the Hawkeyes really need a win there in light of Iowa’s soft opening non-conference slate.
#7 - Indiana Hoosiers (-)
The Hoosiers had an underwhelming week of play. Indiana opened up with a loss on the road against Wisconsin on Wednesday before rebounding with a win over Merrimack at home on Sunday. The split left Indiana sitting at 8-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
It’s hard to contextualize just how badly Indiana blew the Wisconsin game, but we will give it a try here. The Hoosiers went on a 26-4 run early in the first half and maintained a double-digit lead deep into the second half. In fact, KenPom gave Indiana above 75 percent in-game odds to win with as little as three minutes remaining. Nonetheless, Indiana still lost the game. It was an absolutely crushing loss that won’t be easy to overcome.
Indiana only gets one game this week, which will come against Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic on Saturday. It figures to be a challenging game, as the Fighting Irish are playing well and just knocked off Kentucky on Saturday.
#8 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats had a nice week of play, beating NJIT at home on Sunday in the team’s only game of the week. The win pushed Northwestern to 7-2 overall and up to 38th nationally on KenPom. Northwestern will now prepare for a key game against DePaul at home on Saturday. A win there would put the team in great position for the postseason heading into Big Ten play.
#9 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)
The Gophers had a pretty successful week. Minnesota fell at home to Michigan State on Wednesday, but followed it up with a road win over Michigan on Saturday night. As a result, Minnesota now sits at 8-1 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play. The win over the Wolverines was arguably the team’s most impressive victory yet this season.
Minnesota continues to be led by a dynamic duo in Jamison Battle and Payton Willis. on Saturday, Battle finished with 27 points and Willis had 17 of his own. It’s a great one-two punch that’s difficult to defend. We’ll see if they can keep things rolling in the team’s only game this week on Tuesday at home against Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+4)
The Scarlet Knights had a largely positive week of play. Rutgers opened the week with a massive upset over Purdue at home on Thursday before falling on the road against Seton Hall on Sunday night. As a result, Rutgers now sits at 5-5 overall. However, the win over Purdue will go a long way toward resurrecting the team’s resume. Geo Baker also returned in the game against Seton Hall on Sunday, which is an encouraging sign moving forward.
Rutgers will only have one game this week, which will come at home against Rider on Saturday. It should be a nice opportunity for the Scarlet Knights to grab a win.
#11 - Michigan Wolverines (-3)
The Wolverines had a pretty rough week, beating Nebraska on Tuesday but falling to Minnesota at home on Saturday night. The split left Michigan sitting at 6-4 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play. The Gophers are better than many expected, but missing on an opportunity like that at home is a tough blow.
Michigan will return to action on Saturday at home against Southern Utah. The Thunderbirds are a pretty solid mid-major, so it should be a chance for the Wolverines to show some growth after another misstep.
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (-1)
The Terps had a great week of play, scoring a win in the team’s only game of the week against Florida on Sunday afternoon. It was one of the more shocking results of the season for the Big Ten to date. Maryland had lost three straight (and its head coach) heading into the game. Few expected the Terps to win, but they pulled off the upset.
Maryland now sits at 6-4 overall and finally has some positive vibes after a horrendous start to the season. The team will now get a much needed week off from play. We’ll have to wait and see whether the Terps can build off the win over Florida later this month.
#13 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions split the team’s games this week, beating Wagner at home on Wednesday and falling on the road to Michigan State on Saturday. Following the mixed results, Penn State now sits at 5-5 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play. The team will try and rebound from the loss to the Spartans on Saturday on the road against VCU.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Huskers had a horrific week, getting blown out at home against Michigan on Tuesday and on a neutral court against Auburn on Saturday. The losses dropped Nebraska to 5-6 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play. The team has now lost four straight.
While it’s still December, it’s hard to feel great about where things are heading in Lincoln right now. Nebraska still lacks a frontcourt and the team’s shot selection is a mess. And with conference play heading up in just a few weeks, it’s hard to think things are going to get easier. Expect Fred Hoiberg’s seat to start heating up. We’ll see if Nebraska can get things fixed this week against Kansas State at home on Sunday.