While the NFL sucked most of the oxygen out of the sports world last week, fans got treated to some excellent Big Ten basketball over the last seven days. They got to see a plethora of ranked matchups, including some showdowns between Iowa and Ohio State and Illinois and Wisconsin. It was a great slate of games.
And naturally, this week’s games shook up things in the Power Rankings as well. Teams like Illinois and Ohio State 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 11 Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan Wolverines (--)
The Wolverines are currently sidelined 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 14th on the road against Wisconsin.
#2 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)
The Buckeyes remained red hot this week, going on the road and knocking off Iowa on Thursday night in the team’s only game. It was arguably Ohio State’s most impressive win of the season and pushed the team to 15-4 overall and 9-4 in Big Ten play. Ohio State has now won four in a row and seven of the team’s last eight games.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Ohio State’s recent run is how balanced things have been. This isn’t a team living off one or two players. There were 11 Buckeyes who saw time against Iowa on Thursday and eight of them played at least 10 minutes. Moreover, four of them scored double-digits (nobody had more than 16 points) and another (CJ Walker) had nine assists in 25 minutes. That’s about as balanced as you’re going to see a team.
The only real question for Ohio State moving forward is how high the team can climb. The Big Ten regular season title still seems like a stretch with the team’s 9-4 conference mark, but it’s not impossible, especially with how the team’s playing right now. We’ll see if the team can keep things rolling with two tricky games on the slate this week. Ohio State gets Maryland on the road on Monday and Indiana at home on Saturday.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+1)
The Illini also had a monster performance this week, beating Indiana on the road on Tuesday and Wisconsin at home on Saturday. The wins pushed Illinois to 13-5 overall and 9-3 in Big Ten play. It’s hard to argue anyone but Illinois has a better shot at catching Michigan for this year’s Big Ten crown right now.
Illinois remains led by its two NBA prospects in Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu. They are two of the best players in the league and put up incredible numbers this week, including a triple-double for Dosunmu and a double-double for Cockburn against Wisconsin. It was the program’s second straight win against the Badgers.
With the postponement of Illinois’ game against Michigan, it’s unclear who or when the Illini will play in the coming days. There are no games currently on the schedule for this week, but that seems unlikely to remain the case. Michigan State would seem to be a reasonable addition to the schedule, given some of the postponements so far this season.
#4 - Purdue Boilermakers (-2)
The Boilermakers had a mixed week, falling on the road against Maryland on Tuesday and beating Northwestern at home on Saturday evening. The split left Purdue sitting at 13-7 overall and 8-5 in Big Ten play. While the loss to Maryland likely ends the team’s serious Big Ten title hopes, Purdue remains in good shape overall, sitting at 6-2 over the team’s last eight games. That isn’t bad considering the team’s relatively manageable closing slate.
Purdue only gets one game this week with Minnesota on the road on Thursday night. The game looks pretty winnable on paper. The Boilermakers won the first meeting between the two on January 30th by a 19-point margin.
#5 - Wisconsin Badgers (+1)
The Badgers had another disappointing week. Wisconsin opened things up by beating Penn State at home on Tuesday, but followed it up with a 15-point loss on the road against Illinois on Saturday. The loss dropped the team to 14-6 overall and 8-5 in Big Ten play. Unfortunately, with that loss and a brutal upcoming Big Ten slate, it looks like the hope of a conference title repeat is over. Sharing the Big Ten title is still possible, but it would take quite an effort to even get close after the team’s recent struggles.
Wisconsin will hope to get back on track this week with Nebraska on the road on Thursday and Michigan at home on Sunday. A win over the Wolverines would be a huge boost to the program’s morale heading into the stretch run of the season.
#6 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+2)
The Nittany Lions had a relatively positive week of play. Penn State fell on the road against Wisconsin on Tuesday, but rebounded with a solid win against Maryland at home on Friday night. The latter win pushed Penn State on the edge of the NCAA bubble. It’s incredible to think a team with a 7-8 overall record is on the verge of the Tourney, but so goes 2021.
Penn State will now get arguably its most important week of the season yet, with Michigan State on the road on Tuesday and Nebraska at home on Sunday. Both games look completely winnable for Penn State, which makes them so important here. Two wins and Penn State’s sitting on the right side of the bubble. However, a split will be difficult to overcome, and two losses would likely doom the team’s NCAA chances.
#7 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-2)
The Hawkeyes had a really rough week, falling at home to Ohio State on Thursday and on the road against Indiana on Sunday. The two losses dropped Iowa to 13-6 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play. Iowa has now lost four of its last five games and hasn’t beaten a top 40 opponent since the Rutgers game on January 2nd.
While we try to avoid overreacting here, it’s hard to feel good about where Iowa is heading right now. The team’s defense remains problematic (121st nationally) and many of its role players have been inconsistent in recent weeks. Iowa’s tendency to blow leads also remains concerning. And while some of the blown leads arise out of the team’s poor defense, a top 10 team shouldn’t be squandering opportunities this often. Iowa had late in-game odds well above 50 percent late in each of its last five games, but lost four of them. You can’t do that and hope to win big in March.
Perhaps the most fortunate news for fans is that things look far more manageable this week with Rutgers at home on Wednesday and Michigan State on the road on Saturday. Iowa has already beaten both this season, so fans should have at least some confidence here. The team really needs a sweep after its recent struggles.
#8 - Maryland Terrapins (-1)
The Terps had a mixed week of play, beating Purdue at home on Tuesday and falling on the road against Penn State on Friday. The split left Maryland sitting at 10-9 overall, 4-8 in Big Ten play, and squarely on the NCAA bubble with roughly a month of the season remaining.
Maryland will now get another crucial week of play with Ohio State at home on Monday and Minnesota at home on Sunday. The Terps really need to split or sweep these games. Two losses would be really damaging for the team’s NCAA hopes.
#9 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights won the team’s only game this week, beating Minnesota at home on Thursday night. It was Rutgers’ fourth straight win after a horrid experience in early January. The win pushed the team to 11-6 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play. Rutgers will hope to keep things rolling this week with Iowa on the road on Wednesday and Northwestern at home on Saturday. Fans should be hoping for at least a split.
#10 - Indiana Hoosiers (+1)
The Hoosiers split the team’s games this week, but generally had a pretty productive last seven days. While Indiana fell at home to Illinois on Tuesday, it rebounded with a massive win over Iowa on Sunday afternoon. The split left the Hoosiers sitting at 10-8 overall, 5-6 in Big Ten play, and still in serious contention for an NCAA bid.
Indiana will now get an interesting set of games this week with Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and Ohio State on the road on Saturday. Indiana should be favored against the Wildcats, but lost to Northwestern in late December. It’s a game the Hoosiers really need.
#11 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-4)
The Gophers lost the team’s only game this week, falling on the road against Rutgers on Thursday night. The loss dropped the team to 11-7 overall and 4-7 in Big Ten play. It was Minnesota’s third straight loss and its fifth loss in the team’s last six games. Oddly enough, the only win in that stretch came against Michigan, who tops our Power Rankings.
Minnesota’s defense has been the primary issue for the team in its recent losses. The Gophers held Maryland to 1.00 points per possession on the 23rd, but got scorched by Purdue and a Rutgers team who’s put up underwhelming offensive numbers all season. The team has to get better there if it’s going to turn this around.
The team gets a huge slate of games this week with Nebraska at home on Monday, Purdue at home on Thursday, and Maryland on the road on Sunday. It’s one of those weeks that can make or break a season.
#12 - Michigan State Spartans (--)
The Spartans had a decent week, falling on the road against Iowa on Tuesday night and beating Nebraska at home on Saturday. Unfortunately, Michigan State needs more than a decent week to achieve its postseason goals. However, the win over the Huskers at least keep things alive. Michigan State will get Penn State at home on Tuesday and Iowa at home on Saturday. Two wins would get the Spartans back on the bubble.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (--)
The Wildcats lost the team’s only game this week, falling on the road against Purdue on Saturday. It was Northwestern’s ninth-straight loss. Fans will hope the team rebounds well this week with Indiana at home on Wednesday and Rutgers on the road on Saturday.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (--)
The Huskers finally returned from a COVID-19 pause this week with a game against Michigan State on the road on Saturday. Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for Nebraska with a loss to the Spartans. The game dropped the team to 4-9 overall and 0-6 in Big Ten play. The Huskers will get Minnesota on the road on Monday, Wisconsin at home on Thursday, and Penn State on the road on Sunday this week. All three games look pretty challenging.