The Big Ten had a news filled week, but a quiet one on the court after a plethora of games were cancelled in light of COVID-19 concerns. That left only a handful of matchups and even fewer marquee games for the league. In short, there wasn’t a lot of movement in this week’s Power Rankings. In fact, not a single spot changed for what might be a first in the history of BTPowerhouse’s weekly Big Ten Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week Seven Power Rankings
#1 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-)
The Buckeyes were supposed to return to action this week, but were unable to because of continuing COVID-19 issues. As such, Ohio State remains 8-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. The team hasn’t played since December 11th, when it blew out Wisconsin at home.
This week, Ohio State is expected to return to action against New Orleans at home on Tuesday night. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Buckeyes have some rust. We certainly hope the team is healthy and ready to play.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (-)
The Boilermakers only had one game this week and earned an easy win in it, cruising past Incarnate Word at home on Monday night. The win pushed Purdue to 11-1 overall heading into the team’s non-conference finale against Nicholls State at home on Wednesday. A win there would mark Purdue’s best start since the 2015-’16 season. And things likely wouldn’t stop there either, as Purdue would be favored in its next few games as well.
#3 - Michigan State Spartans (-)
The Spartans returned to action last week, facing off against Oakland on Tuesday night. Ultimately, Michigan State came out on top, scoring a quality win against the Grizzlies. The game was played on a neutral court in Detroit and was pretty hard fought. Marcus Bingham was the difference, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the win.
Michigan State now enters the final week of 2021 sitting at 10-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. The Spartans might not get as much attention nationally as Purdue and Ohio State, but fans shouldn’t be overlooking this squad. Michigan State is red hot, has won five in a row, and the team’s only two losses came against elite opponents in Kansas and Baylor. This is quietly one of Michigan State’s better starts in recent history.
Things should get interesting for the Spartans again this week as the team gets High Point at home on Wednesday and Northwestern on the road on Sunday. Michigan State will be a heavy favorite against High Point, but the Wildcats have been sneakily good this year. It figures to be an intriguing matchup for the both sides.
#4 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-)
Illinois kept things rolling this week with a huge win over rival Missouri on Wednesday night. It was a great victory not only from an emotional perspective, but from an on-court perspective as well. Kofi Cockburn dominated down low, Alfonso Plummer did work in the backcourt, and the team got quality play from its bench as well. Illinois still has plenty of room to grow, but you can see things starting to move into place.
This week, Illinois will get Florida A&M at home on Wednesday and Minnesota on the road on Sunday. The latter matchup feels like a bit of a reality test for both squads. Illinois has been trending up and the Gophers continue to win close games. Something’s gotta give.
#5 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-)
The Hawkeyes scored another win against an overmatched opponent this week, beating Southeastern Louisiana at home on Tuesday night. The win improved Iowa to 9-3 overall, though seven of those wins have come against teams ranked 194th or worse on KenPom. Iowa presently ranks 343th nationally in non-conference strength of schedule.
Iowa will get one more tuneup game this week before entering Big Ten play with Western Illinois at home on Wednesday. It doesn’t look like a particularly great game, but it’s actually one of the tougher opponents the Hawkeyes have played this year.
#6 - Wisconsin Badgers (-)
The Badgers had one of the more bizarre weeks you’ll ever see in college basketball. Wisconsin was supposed to play two separate games, but both ended up being cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns at the last minute. As such, Wisconsin remains 9-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play with the team’s last game coming against Nicholls State on December 15th.
Wisconsin hopes to return to action this week against Illinois State at home on Wednesday. It’s the team’s last scheduled non-conference game of the season. The Badgers are hoping to recover some momentum before a tough opening conference slate in January.
#7 - Indiana Hoosiers (-)
The Hoosiers kept the team’s momentum going this week, beating Northern Kentucky at home on Wednesday night. The win pushed Indiana to 10-2 overall. Indiana has now won three in a row and four of the team’s last five games. It’s been a remarkable run, setting up to the Hoosiers for a big January.
For better or worse, the rubber now meets the road. Indiana gets UNC Asheville at home on Wednesday and Penn State on the road on Sunday. This feels like a huge opportunity for the Hoosiers. Win both games and keep your NCAA hopes in good position. Drop one and the finger pointing will resume. It’s a big week in Bloomington.
#8 - Northwestern Wildcats (-)
The Wildcats only had one game this week, beating Illinois Springfield at home on Monday night. The win pushed Northwestern to 8-2 overall and should set up two significant games this week. Northwestern will get Prairie View A&M at home on Thursday and Michigan State at home on Sunday. Two wins would instantly put the Wildcats on the NCAA radar.
#9 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-)
The Gophers added another win this week, beating Green Bay at home on Wednesday to improve to 10-1 overall. Minnesota remains extremely reliant on its starting lineup, but it’s certainly working so far. The question is whether it can keep up against tougher competition, particularly as Big Ten play restarts.
Fortunately, Gopher fans will get their answer this week. Minnesota gets Alcorn State at home on Wednesday and Illinois at home on Sunday. As noted above when I was writing about Illinois, this feels like a proving ground of sorts. Both teams are trending up and something’s gotta give. It will be a great test for both sides.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-)
The Scarlet Knights were off last week due to a variety of COVID-19 issues. As such, the team remains 5-5 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play. Rutgers will resume play this week against Maine at home on the 30th and Central Connecticut at home on January 1st. The Scarlet Knights project as favorites in both games.
#11 - Michigan Wolverines (-)
The Wolverines were also off after a COVID-19 cancellation. As such, Michigan sits at 7-4 overall after being off since the 18th. Michigan is presently set to return to play on the 30th on the road against UCF. The matchup looks like a coin toss and could be crucial for Michigan’s postseason chances. Michigan desperately needs a win.
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (-)
The Terps were off this week after some COVID-19 related developments. As such, Maryland remains 6-4 and is projected to return to action this week. The team gets Lehigh at home on Tuesday and Brown at home on Thursday. Two wins would provide a nice boost heading into the restart of Big Ten play.
#13 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-)
The Nittany Lions are another team coming off a pause this week. Penn State hasn’t played since a road loss against Michigan State on the 11th and remains 5-5 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play. The team will face Delaware State at home on Wednesday and Indiana at home on Sunday. Two wins would go a long way toward establishing Penn State as a factor in the Big Ten this season.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-)
The Huskers won their only game last week against Kennesaw State, improving to 6-7 overall on the season. Nebraska is now presently set to resume play on January 2nd at home against Ohio State.
It feels odd to say this about a game in January where the Huskers will be significant underdogs, but the matchup against the Buckeyes feels like a stop gap of sorts. Nebraska needs some positive momentum before things spiral and this feels like one of the last opportunities to reverse course. Perhaps that’s a bit hyperbolic, but time is quickly running out on this season. Nebraska needs a big win and needs it soon.