Another week and another slate of phenomenal games. Big Ten basketball is in full swing and it was nice to see all 14 teams in action for the first time in more than a month. Fans will certainly keep their fingers crossed it stayed that way.
Of course, with so many key games, this week’s games shook up things in the Power Rankings as well. Teams like Iowa and Rutgers moved up while others like Penn State 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 12 Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
The Wolverines finally returned to action on Sunday after a three-week related pause for COVID-19 concerns. It was one of the more unusual pauses we’ve seen this season as nobody on Michigan’s team actually tested positive. Nonetheless, the team ended up sidelined and many were interested to see how Michigan would look after so much time off.
Fortunately for Wolverine fans, things went well.
Michigan not only played a competitive game with Wisconsin in the team’s return, but actually went on the road and topped the Badgers. It was Michigan’s second win over Wisconsin this season and pushed the team to 14-1 overall and 9-1 in Big Ten play. Michigan remains atop the league standings.
Perhaps the most notable part of Michigan’s win on Sunday was the team’s comeback effort in the second half. The team trailed by 12 at halftime, but completely dominated the second half, making many wonder if Michigan’s early struggles against the Badgers were more likely caused from the three-week pause than some fundamental issue with the team. We’ll never know for sure, but if rusty Michigan can still go on the road and beat a top 25 Wisconsin team, that’s quite a statement.
Michigan will now prepare for two key games in the coming days with Rutgers at home on Thursday and Ohio State on the road on Sunday. Both opponents have been red hot over the last few weeks, so sweeping the games would be quite a statement for the Wolverines. We’ll see if the team can pull it off. The matchup against Ohio State looks particularly intriguing.
#2 - Ohio State Buckeyes (--)
After the last few weeks, even referring to Ohio State as “hot” feels like an understatement. The Buckeyes are playing extraordinarily well and showed it last week with wins against Maryland on the road on Monday and Indiana at home on Saturday. Both games were decided by double-digits.
Last week’s two wins cap an incredible 10-game run for Ohio State. Just take a look at some of the team’s stats below.
Ohio State’s Last 10 Games:
- Won 9 of last 10 games.
- Nine wins against top 75 opponents.
- Five wins against top 30 opponents.
- Five road wins.
- Three top 15 wins.
By any metric, that’s an absolutely incredible run. Many teams go an entire season without beating nine top 75 teams and Ohio State’s done it in just over a month. For perspective, it took Ohio State until February 23rd to hit that mark last season. So, more simply put, we’re talking about nearly a season’s worth of accomplishments (in a normal year) in five weeks. That’s an unbelievable accomplishment, especially in an abbreviated year.
The obvious question is how long Ohio State can keep this going. Not because the Buckeyes’ recent success is some kind of fluke, but because common sense suggests this run is too good to maintain without a slip up. We’ll see if it’s this week with Penn State on the road on Thursday and Michigan at home on Sunday. The matchup against the Wolverines will be a massive one.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (--)
The Illini only had one game this week after a COVID-19 postponement, facing Nebraska on the road on Friday night. While the game was closer than anticipated, Illinois came out on top . The win pushed the team to 14-5 overall and 10-3 in Big Ten play. Illinois remains second in the league standings and still appears to be Michigan’s biggest threat for the Big Ten title.
Interestingly, Illinois projects to have a pretty manageable slate this week with Northwestern at home on Tuesday and Minnesota on the road on Saturday. Illinois currently has at least 65 percent odds to win in both games.
#4 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+3)
The Hawkeyes finally had a great performance this week, beating Rutgers at home on Thursday night and blowing out Michigan State out on the road on Saturday. The win over the Spartans was particularly impressive, coming by an 88-58 margin. Iowa now sits at 15-6 overall and 9-5 in Big Ten play. It’s the first time Iowa’s been on a winning streak since January 17th. A longer drought than fans would have anticipated a month ago.
This week, Iowa will get Wisconsin on the road on Thursday and Penn State at home on Sunday. Both games could be a bit tricky.
#5 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+4)
The Scarlet Knights split the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Iowa on Thursday and rebounding with a win against Northwestern on Saturday. Rutgers still remains one of the hotter teams in the league, having won five of the team’s last six games. Rutgers will hope to keep that going this week with Michigan on the road on Thursday and Maryland at home on Sunday.
#6 - Purdue Boilermakers (-2)
The Boilermakers underwhelmed this week, falling on the road to Minnesota on Thursday in the team’s only game. The loss dropped Purdue to 13-8 overall and 8-6 in Big Ten play. The team’s overall resume remains impressive, but a 3-3 mark over the last six games isn’t exactly encouraging, especially as we get closer to March.
However, those struggles will likely end in the coming days as Purdue gets two very winnable games this week with Michigan State at home on Tuesday and Nebraska on the road on Saturday. The team has about 75 percent odds to win in both games. Two wins would go a long way for Purdue’s postseason seeding.
#7 - Wisconsin Badgers (-2)
The Badgers had a mixed performance this week, beating Nebraska on the road on Wednesday and falling at home to Michigan on Sunday. The loss to the Wolverines was particularly frustrating as Wisconsin led by 12 points at halftime. The split left Wisconsin sitting at 15-7 overall and 9-6 in Big Ten play.
It’s still too early to make any grand proclamations about Wisconsin’s season, but there’s no denying things have been frustrating so far. The Badgers were widely viewed as a Big Ten and Final Four threat coming into the season and the team really doesn’t look like either right now. The conference title is already out the window and the team’s lackluster performances against its toughest opponents makes a Final Four run look like an unrealistic goal. Wisconsin is a good team and could do some damage in March. It just doesn’t seem like the “next level” squad fans hoped to see.
Wisconsin will get two intriguing games this week with Iowa at home on Thursday and Northwestern on the road on Sunday. An upset over the Hawkeyes would go a long way toward ending that frustration.
#8 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terps split the team’s games this week, falling at home to Ohio State on Monday and bouncing back with a win over Minnesota at home on Sunday night. The mixed results left Maryland sitting at 11-10 overall and 5-9 in Big Ten play.
There’s little denying Maryland’s status as a bubble team right now. ESPN currently has the Terps as the sixth team out of the field and it’s hard to disagree too much with that assessment. Maryland has been about as erratic of a team as you’ll ever seen in the Big Ten and you expect most erratic teams to wind up on the bubble.
We’ll see if the Terps can show some consistency this week with a back-to-back against Nebraska on Tuesday and Wednesday and a road trip to Rutgers on Sunday. While Maryland lost to the Scarlet Knights earlier this season, all three games look winnable. The Terps probably need to win at least two of these three to feel good about the team’s NCAA hopes.
#9 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-3)
After winning four of six games, Nittany Lion fans had some real reasons for optimism. Penn State was playing well and had done enough to get some serious NCAA bubble talk. If the team could just take care of business and pull off an upset or two, it might be able to slide into a spot on Selection Sunday and end the program’s NCAA drought.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go well this week with Penn State falling on the road against Michigan State on Tuesday and at home against Nebraska on Sunday. The second loss was particularly rough, as the Huskers were previously winless in Big Ten play. The losses dropped Penn State to 7-10 overall, 4-9 in Big Ten play, and well outside the NCAA bubble.
Getting up off the mat after the last week is going to be tough. We’ll see if Penn State can do it with Ohio State at home on Thursday and Iowa on the road on Sunday.
#10 - Indiana Hoosiers (--)
The Hoosiers had a relatively underwhelming week, beating Northwestern in double overtime on Wednesday and falling to Ohio State on Saturday. Indiana now sits at 11-9 overall, 6-7 in Big Ten play, and firmly on the NCAA bubble. There’s little debating the Hoosiers will need a great finish to the year to feel any confidence on Selection Sunday.
Indiana will get two crucial games this week with Minnesota at home on Wednesday and Michigan State at home on Saturday. Both really need to be wins for the Hoosiers. We’ll see if the team can get the job done.
#11 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (--)
The Gophers had a largely positive week with wins over Nebraska and Purdue early in the week and a loss on the road against Maryland on Sunday. The mixed results left Minnesota sitting at 13-8 overall and 6-8 in Big Ten play. What’s more remarkable is the team remains winless on the road at 0-7 in this season. Not exactly something you see out of a team projected solidly in the NCAA field.
Minnesota will get two big opportunities this week with Indiana on the road on Wednesday and Illinois at home on Saturday. Even a split would be a major accomplishment.
#12 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+2)
The Huskers finally did it. After 26 straight Big Ten losses, Nebraska finally broke through this week, beating Penn State on the road on Sunday. It was a great win for Fred Hoiberg, his staff, and the entire program. It followed up some tough outings earlier in the week, with Nebraska falling to Minnesota on the road on Monday, Wisconsin at home on Wednesday, and Illinois at home on Friday.
Nebraska will hope to build off its win on Sunday with Maryland on the road on Tuesday and Wednesday and Purdue at home on Saturday. All three should be challenging.
#13 - Michigan State Spartans (-1)
The Spartans had a pretty underwhelming week, narrowly beating Penn State at home on Tuesday and getting blown out at home against Iowa on Saturday. The split left Michigan State sitting at 10-8 overall and 4-8 in Big Ten play.
There’s little debating Michigan State has some major work to do if it hopes to even challenge for a bubble spot on Selection Sunday. The Spartans don’t have a particularly strong resume and seem to be trending in the wrong direction. If Tom Izzo is going to turn things around, it’s going to have to start now. We’ve hit the end of the road.
Michigan State will get Purdue on the road on Tuesday and Indiana on the road on Saturday. Two losses here would be utterly devastating to the team’s postseason hopes.
#14 - Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
The Wildcats lost both of the team’s games this week, falling to Indiana in double overtime on Wednesday and to Rutgers on the road on Saturday. Northwestern will hope to bounce back this week with Illinois on the road on Tuesday and Wisconsin at home on Sunday. Both games look pretty tough on paper.