While the league’s best team (at least in terms of the standings) wasn’t in action this week because of COVID-19 restrictions, there was still more than enough Big Ten action for fans to enjoy, including a massive showdown between Illinois and Iowa on Friday night. We also got to see Michigan State return to action after a few weeks off from a COVID-19 pause.
And naturally, this week’s games shook up things in the Power Rankings as well. Teams like Ohio State and Purdue moved up while others like Iowa 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 10 Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
The Wolverines are currently 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. Michigan is currently projected to return to action on February 3rd on the road against Northwestern.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (+1)
The Boilermakers scored an impressive win in the team’s only game this week, blowing out Minnesota at home on Saturday night. The win pushed Purdue to 12-6 overall, 7-4 in Big Ten play, and back on the edge of Big Ten title contention. It marked the team’s fifth win in the last six games, with the only loss coming against Michigan.
Perhaps the most exciting thing for Boilermaker fans is how manageable things look going forward. Purdue currently has eight games left on the docket and is outright favored in six of those games and has 46 percent or better odds in the remaining two. That’s about the best you can ask for in this year’s Big Ten.
This week, Purdue will get Maryland on the road on Tuesday and Northwestern at home on Saturday. It projects as a key opportunity to pick up two wins.
#3 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)
The Buckeyes scored two solid wins this week, beating Penn State at home on Wednesday in a tightly contested game and Michigan State at home on Sunday afternoon. The two wins pushed Ohio State to 14-4 overall and 8-4 in Big Ten play. The team has now won six of its last seven games, including three road wins. Not bad for this year’s Big Ten.
Like Purdue, Ohio State remains right on the edge of Big Ten title contention and fans will hope for a slip up from the Wolverines in the weeks ahead. Unfortunately, closing the gap is going to be tough, especially with a really challenging slate coming up next. Ohio State gets Iowa on the road Iowa on Thursday. It’s arguably the team’s toughest remaining game on the schedule.
#4 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+3)
The Illini had a fantastic week, scoring a marquee win at home against Iowa on Friday night. It was easily Illinois’ best win of the season and pushed the team to 11-5 overall and 7-3 in Big Ten play. It also marked the team’s second in a row and its sixth win in the last eight games. This team’s playing about as well as anybody in the Big Ten.
Friday’s win also keeps Illinois in the Big Ten title hunt. The Illini are a full two games back from Michigan, but things don’t set up that badly for Illinois down the stretch. We’ll see if the team can score two wins this week with Indiana on the road on Tuesday and Wisconsin at home on Saturday. Both need to be wins if Illinois is hoping to grab the Big Ten title.
#5 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-3)
The Hawkeyes were hoping to bounce back this week after blowing its game against Indiana on the 21st. Unfortunately, Iowa wouldn’t be able to deliver on those hopes, falling on the road to Illinois on Friday night. It dropped the team to 12-4 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play. It marked Iowa’s first back-to-back losses of the season.
While the Illinois loss wasn’t that bad by itself (Illinois is pretty good, after all), it’s probably time to start wondering if Iowa’s going to be able to deliver on its substantial offseason hype. We’re already to February and Iowa still hasn’t beaten a truly elite opponent. You may not get many opportunities to do so, but that’s still a surprising statement given the offseason hype. Additionally, Friday’s loss delivered a huge blow to Iowa’s conference title hopes. TRank now has Iowa all the way down to 11 percent odds for the title.
There’s still more than enough time to get things turned around (even for the Big Ten title), but Iowa’s underwhelming defense, lack of frontcourt depth, and inconsistent play on the wing have all been concerning, at least given the team’s preseason expectations. It’s going to take an improved effort to survive the final two months of the season.
Iowa will begin those efforts this week with Michigan State at home on Tuesday, Ohio State at home on Thursday, and Indiana on the road on Sunday. All three games are more than winnable if the Hawkeyes play well. We’ll see what team shows up.
#6 - Wisconsin Badgers (-1)
The Badgers had an underwhelming week. Wisconsin beat Maryland on the road on Wednesday, but fell against Penn State on the road on Saturday. The loss dropped Wisconsin to 13-5 overall and 7-4 in Big Ten play. It was the team’s second loss in three games and its fourth loss in the last nine games. Not exactly a stellar stretch.
Unfortunately, the Penn State loss did quite a bit of damage to Wisconsin’s resume. Not only from a NET and RPI perspective, but also in the Big Ten title race. While the Badgers are technically still in it with a 7-4 mark in conference play, it’s hard to feel optimistic with the remaining slate. Unlike teams like Purdue and Ohio State, things don’t look easy for Wisconsin moving forward. Wisconsin has a loaded last few games and it’s going to take quite an effort for the Badgers to survive that and gain three games on Michigan. We’ll see whether it happens.
Wisconsin will get two key games this week with Penn State at home on Tuesday and Illinois on the road on Saturday. The game against the Nittany Lions should be interesting after Wisconsin’s recent loss and the Illini game looks really challenging.
#7 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers had a rough week, losing the team’s only game of the week on the road against Purdue on Saturday. It marked Minnesota’s second loss in a row and fourth loss in the last five games. And the loss against Purdue was particularly rough, coming by a 19-point margin in a game that projected to be competitive.
Minnesota now sits at a crossroads. The Gophers have a nice resume and should land comfortably in the NCAA Tournament. However, if Minnesota is going to be more than that this season, it’s going to need to get things corrected. It will start with Rutgers on the road on Thursday for the team’s only game this week.
#8 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+3)
The Nittany Lions had a relatively solid week, falling on the road against Ohio State on Wednesday and bouncing back with a win over Wisconsin on Saturday. The split left Penn State sitting at 6-7 overall and 3-6 in Big Ten play. It was the team’s third win in the last four games. Penn State’s quietly starting to build some serious momentum.
Penn State will get two tricky games this week with Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and Maryland at home on Friday. A split against that slate would be an impressive accomplishment.
#9 - Maryland Terrapins (-1)
The Terps lost the team’s only game of the week at home against Wisconsin on Wednesday. It dropped Maryland to 9-8 overall and 3-7 in Big Ten play. As such, Maryland remains squarely on the bubble heading into February. The team will get Purdue at home on Tuesday and Penn State on the road on Friday. Maryland really needs two wins.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+2)
The Scarlet Knights scored two solid wins this week, blowing out Michigan State at home on Thursday night and Northwestern on the road on Sunday. And after a rough January, that’s exactly what Rutgers needed to do to get back on track. The two wins pushed Rutgers to 10-6 overall and 6-6 in Big Ten play.
Rutgers will now enter this week hoping to build its NCAA resume even a bit more. The Scarlet Knights will get Minnesota at home on Thursday. The team should be favored.
#11 - Indiana Hoosiers (-2)
The Hoosiers were off this week. Indiana remains 9-7 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play. Indiana will be back in action this week with Illinois at home on Tuesday and Iowa at home on Sunday. A big opportunity awaits. Two wins and Indiana could establish itself as a likely NCAA team. Two losses and the Hoosiers will continue trying to fight uphill.
#12 - Michigan State Spartans (-2)
The Spartans returned to action this week after a COVID-19 related pause. Unfortunately, the return didn’t go all that well. Michigan State got blown out by Rutgers on Thursday night and followed it up with a double-digit loss at Ohio State on Sunday. The two losses dropped the Spartans to 8-6 overall and 2-6 in Big Ten play.
We’ve been writing about this on BTPowerhouse for awhile, but Michigan State’s in some serious trouble right now. The Spartans are currently projecting well outside NCAA at-large range and every loss is just making things tougher. And with only five weeks left, time is starting to run out. If Michigan State is going to get things back on track and make this year’s NCAA Tournament, it’s going to take a gargantuan effort moving forward.
We’ll see if the Spartans can bounce back with Iowa on the road on Tuesday and Nebraska at home on Saturday. The game against the Huskers is a must win.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (--)
The Wildcats remain in free fall. Northwestern lost its only game this week, falling at home against Rutgers on Sunday evening. The loss dropped the team to 6-9 overall and 3-8 in Big Ten play. It was the team’s eighth straight loss. Northwestern is set to return to action on Wednesday at home against Michigan and Saturday on the road against Purdue.
#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.