Last week was a loaded one for the Big Ten. We were blessed with a plethora of marquee matchups and a show stopper on Monday afternoon with Illinois and Purdue battling for supremacy in the Big Ten standings. Of course, it all lead to a big shakeup here.
So, with that, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 10 Power Rankings
#1 - Wisconsin Badgers (+2)
The Badgers had another great week of play, beating Ohio State at home on Thursday in Wisconsin’s only game of the week. The win pushed Wisconsin to 14-2 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play. The Badgers have also won six in a row and 12 of the team’s last 13 games. It’s been an incredible run in Madison.
By any reasonable measure, Wisconsin looks like a Big Ten title contender right now. The Badgers are 5-1 in conference play, have beaten most of the league’s top teams, and still seem to be trending up as well. The question is now about how Wisconsin will do in its blue collar games in the weeks ahead, i.e. non-marquee matchups. The Badgers have taken care of business in those so far, but can they keep it up? If so, they should be around for awhile.
This week, Wisconsin gets Northwestern on the road on Tuesday and Michigan State at home on Friday. Both of these should be wins, but neither is close to a guarantee. In fact, KenPom gives Wisconsin somewhere between 50.1 to 60 percent odds to win each game. We’ll see if the Badgers can get the job done.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (+2)
The Boilermakers had a fantastic week, beating Nebraska at home last Friday and knocking off Illinois on the road in double overtime on Monday. The two wins pushed Purdue to 15-2 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play. The win over Illinois was also particularly impressive, as Illinois had previously been unbeaten in conference play.
Purdue is still an offensive led team, with Zach Edey and Trevion Williams leading the show. And you saw that against Illinois. The two combined for 34 points in the road win and Edey finished with a ridiculous 143 offensive rating.
Things should remain interesting for the Boilermakers this week, as Purdue gets Indiana on the road on Thursday and Northwestern at home on Sunday. Both should be wins and need to be for Purdue to keep pace in the Big Ten title race.
#3 - Michigan State Spartans (-2)
The Spartans had mixed results this week, beating Minnesota at home on Wednesday and falling to Northwestern at home on Saturday. The split left Michigan State sitting at 14-3 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play. The loss to the Wildcats was the team’s first since a game against Baylor on Black Friday. It had been quite a run.
Despite the loss last weekend, Michigan State’s overall resume remains strong. The Spartans remain in great position in the Big Ten standings and for sitting in good position for a great seed in March, even if Michigan State dropped a home game to what many believe is an inferior opponent. Sometimes it happens. The college basketball season is a long and winding road. It’s important fans don’t overreact to a single result.
The good news is Michigan State has a chance to rebound with a huge game on the docket against Wisconsin on the road on Friday. It’s arguably the toughest remaining game on Michigan State’s schedule, so a win would be pretty impressive. We’ll have to wait and see if Tom Izzo and his squad can pull off the upset.
#4 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-2)
Illinois had a mixed weekend, beating Nebraska on the road last Tuesday and Michigan at home on Friday, but falling to Purdue at home on Monday. The loss dropped Illinois to 13-4 overall and 6-1 in Big Ten play. It was a tough one that came in large part due to foul trouble for Kofi Cockburn and a few tough bounces.
The team will hope to get back on track later this week with Maryland on the road on Friday. Illinois should be a big favorite at tip.
#5 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)
The Hawkeyes had a great week, knocking off Indiana at home on Thursday and following it up with a road win over Minnesota on Sunday. The two wins pushed Iowa to 13-4 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play. Iowa has also won six of its last seven games, clearly becoming one of the more overlooked teams nationally.
Iowa will hope to keep things going this week with two more winnable games on the docket. The Hawkeyes get Rutgers on the road on Wednesday and Penn State at home on Saturday. Both project as wins. We’ll see if the team can handle both.
#6 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes had a mixed week. Ohio State opened things up with a loss on the road against Wisconsin on Thursday, but rebounded with a hard fought win against Penn State at home on Sunday. The split left the team sitting at 11-4 overall and 5-2 in Big Ten play.
Perhaps it’s reading too much into things, but Ohio State still seems like it’s a step slow afters its COVID-19 pause in December. While the team has a winning record (3-2) in January, it doesn’t seem to have recaptured the fire it was playing with when it blew out Wisconsin on December 11th yet. Maybe Ohio State’s fast start was always going to cool off, who knows. Regardless, this team seems less like a juggernaut right now.
Ohio State will get two winnable games this week with IUPUI at home on Tuesday and Nebraska at home on Saturday. The Buckeyes will be big favorites in both games.
#7 - Indiana Hoosiers (-)
The Hoosiers lost the team’s only game last week, falling on the road to Iowa in what was a pretty competitive matchup. Indiana’s resume otherwise remains solid. The team sits at 12-4 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play.
Indiana will get three pivotal games this week with Nebraska on the road on Monday, Purdue at home on Thursday, and Michigan at home on Sunday. In one week, Indiana has the chance to put itself in great shape for the NCAAs or watch its resume light aflame. Fans should be hoping for at least a 2-1 performance in those games.
#8 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)
The Nittany Lions had a relatively positive week, beating Rutgers at home on Tuesday and falling in a hard fought game against Ohio State on the road on Sunday. The split left Penn State sitting at 8-7 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play. Despite the team’s underwhelming overall record, Penn State is still trending up. The team is 4-3 over its last seven and hasn’t lost to anybody ranked outside the top 20 since December 1st.
Penn state will hope to continue its ascent this week with Minnesota at home on Wednesday and Iowa on the road on Saturday. Even a split would be a positive result.
#9 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1)
The Scarlet Knights went 1-1 in the team’s games last week, falling on the road against Penn State on Tuesday, but rebounding with a win over Maryland on the road on Saturday. The split left Rutgers sitting at 10-6 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play.
Rutgers enters this week in an interesting position. The team still has a reasonable path to the NCAA Tournament, but much of its chances will depend on how it performances in the next few weeks. Rutgers has a number of winnable games on the docket. However, none of them are anything close to locks. That starts this week with Iowa at home on Wednesday and Minnesota on the road on Saturday. Both could easily be wins or losses. It’s a key opportunity week for the Scarlet Knights.
#10 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats had a solid performance this week. While Northwestern fell short against Maryland in double overtime on Wednesday, the team rebounded with a massive road win over Michigan State on Saturday. The win pushed Northwestern to 9-6 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play.
Northwestern will hope to continue its recent success this week with Wisconsin at home on Tuesday and Purdue on the road on Sunday. Both look like major challenges.
#11 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers had another rough week, falling on the rod to Michigan State on Wednesday and at home to Iowa on Sunday. Minnesota fought valiantly in both games, but ultimately fell short. The losses dropped Minnesota to 10-5 overall and 1-5 in Big Ten play. The Gophers have now lost four straight and five of the team’s last eight games.
Given the team’s soft slate to open the season, many are going to point to Minnesota’s recent struggles and make bold proclamations about the team being “exposed” by tougher opponents. And to a certain extent, they’re right. It’d be absurd to suggest Minnesota’s early season wins implied it was going to run through a loaded Big Ten. However, it’s also worth acknowledging how close last week’s games were. The Michigan State loss came on a buzzer beater and the Gophers pushed Iowa in the closing minutes.
Minnesota remains a good team. It’s just not one good enough to roll the Big Ten.
This week, Minnesota will hope to get back on track against two “easier” opponents. The Gophers get Penn State on the road on Wednesday and Rutgers at home on Saturday. If Minnesota drops these two, it’s probably time to hit the panic button.
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (-)
The Terps had a mixed week of play. Maryland beat Northwestern on the road on Wednesday, but fell short against Rutgers at home on Saturday. The split left Maryland sitting at 9-8 overall and 1-5 in Big Ten play. If the Terps are going to make an NCAA push, it has to come now with Michigan on the road on Tuesday and Illinois at home on Friday. It’s hard to see Maryland making noise on Selection Sunday without at least a split.
#13 - Michigan Wolverines (-)
The Wolverines came off a COVID-19 pause last week and fell in the team’s return on the road against Illinois on Friday night. The game was surprisingly competitive considering the pause and the absence of Hunter Dickinson. Still, it was another frustrating loss for Wolverine fans and dropped Michigan to 7-7 overall and 1-3 in Big Ten play.
Like a lot of teams on this list, Michigan is in an interesting spot. The team’s resume isn’t terrible, but also isn’t NCAA caliber either. It creates a situation where every game moving forward is massive for the Wolverines. And that’s an important note heading into what looks like a manageable week. Michigan gets Maryland at home on Tuesday and Indiana on the road on Sunday. Both games appear winnable, but can Michigan get the job done?
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-)
The Huskers lost both of the team’s games this week, falling to Illinois at home on Tuesday and to Purdue on the road on Friday. Both losses came by double-digits. Nebraska will hope to rebound against Indiana at home on Monday and Ohio State on the road on Saturday. Both look like challenging games.