The Big Ten had quite a week, filled with marquee matchups, upsets, and stellar play across the board. We got to see a rivalry upset between Indiana and Purdue and plenty of other great games. Of course, it all had an impact on this week’s Power Rankings.
So, with that, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 11 Power Rankings
#1 - Michigan State Spartans (-2)
The Spartans had a remarkable performance, going on the road and beating Wisconsin in the team’s lone outing of the week. It’s the first time the Badgers have looked mortal this month. Michigan State used some quality shooting and domination on the boards to grab the victory. The win pushed Michigan State to 15-3 overall and 6-1 in Big Ten play.
It’s still early to get too caught up in these things, but Michigan State will now enter the final week of January atop the Big Ten standings. And while we’ll have to see how things shake out, Michigan State looks like the conference favorite right now. That’s quite a statement about Tom Izzo and his squad.
Michigan State now sets up for one of its most important remaining weeks on the slate. The Spartans get Illinois on the road and then return home to face arch-rival Michigan on Saturday. Two wins would keep the Spartans atop the Big Ten standings and really get some juice going around the program.
#2 - Wisconsin Badgers (-1)
The Badgers had mixed results this week, beating Northwestern on the road on Tuesday and falling at home against Michigan State on Friday. The split left Wisconsin sitting at 15-3 overall and 6-2 in Big Ten play.
Many are going to critique Wisconsin after its loss against the Spartans on Friday and rightfully so. The Badgers looked disinterested and were thoroughly outplayed, including on the boards, where Wisconsin was pounded. However, before getting too down, Badger fans need to keep things in perspective. This is still a team with a top 10 resume that’s won seven of its last eight games, including three on the road. Bad nights are going to happen over the course of a season this long and Wisconsin got hit with one on Friday.
This week, Wisconsin will try and rebound with two really winnable games. The Badgers will get Nebraska on the road on Thursday and Minnesota at home on Sunday. KenPom gives Wisconsin a 79% chance to win in both games.
#3 - Purdue Boilermakers (-1)
The Boilermakers had a largely positive week, beating Illinois on the road on Monday, falling to Indiana on the road on Thursday, and rebounding with a win over Northwestern at home on Sunday. The 2-1 performance pushed Purdue to 16-3 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play.
Like Wisconsin above, fans are going to focus on the slips for Purdue. And yes, there have been mistakes. However, Purdue has also done enough to put itself in position for a one seed in March and the Big Ten title heading into the last week of January. I’m guessing most Boilermaker fans would have gladly taken that if offered when the season started.
Purdue now sets up for two crucial games this week with Iowa on the road on Thursday and Ohio State at home on Sunday. Two wins could really help the Boilermakers in the Big Ten title race, especially as Ohio State presently sits above them in the standings.
#4 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-)
Illinois had its worst week of the season since November, falling at home against Purdue on Monday and then following it up with a loss on the road against Maryland on Friday. The two losses dropped Illinois to 13-5 overall and to 6-2 in Big Ten play.
What’s frustrating for Illinois fans is that both losses came in vastly different ways. The loss to Purdue was simply a hard fought game where the team came up a few possessions short in double overtime. Meanwhile, the loss to Maryland was almost exclusively due to the absence of Kofi Cockburn, who missed the game with a concussion. The combination of the losses is rough, but it’s hard to be too upset about either performance by itself.
Regardless of what happened in those losses, Illinois now finds itself out amid a two-game losing streak with two challenging games on the docket this week. Illinois gets Michigan State at home on Tuesday and Northwestern on the road on Saturday. Two losses would be devastating for the team’s Big Ten title hopes. Fans will have to hope Cockburn returns.
#5 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-)
The Hawkeyes split the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Rutgers on Wednesday and rebounding with a win over Penn State at home on Saturday. The mixed results left Iowa sitting at 14-5 overall and 4-4 in Big Ten play.
Iowa only gets one game this week, which comes at home against Purdue on Thursday. It could very well be the marquee win Hawkeye fans have been hoping for the last few weeks.
#6 - Indiana Hoosiers (+1)
The Hoosiers had a pretty solid week, all things considered. Indiana opened things up with a win over Nebraska on the road on Monday and followed it up with a massive win over Purdue on Thursday at home before falling to Michigan on Sunday. As a result, Indiana now sits at 14-5 overall, 5-4 in Big Ten play, and in great shape for the NCAAs.
Indiana will hope to add two more wins to its resume this week with Penn State at home on Wednesday and Maryland on the road on Saturday. The Hoosiers should be favored in both games.
#7 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes won the team’s only game this week against IUPUI at home on Tuesday. Ohio State was also scheduled to play Nebraska, but the game was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Ohio State is set to return to action this week against Minnesota on Thursday and Sunday on the road against Purdue. Both will be challenging games.
#8 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+3)
The Gophers won the team’s only game last week, beating Rutgers at home on Saturday despite a short-handed roster. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for Minnesota and improved the team’s record to 11-5 overall and 2-5 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota will now prepare for a massive week of action with Ohio State at home on Thursday and Wisconsin on the road on Sunday. The Gophers are presently 79th in the NET ratings, so the team really needs at least a split in the two games.
#9 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions lost the team’s only game this week, falling on the road to Iowa on Saturday. Penn State was also supposed to play Minnesota recently, but the game was cancelled due to COVID-19 issues. Penn State will hope to get back on track this week with Indiana on the road on Wednesday.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1)
The Scarlet Knights split the team’s games this week, beating Iowa at home on Wednesday and falling to Minnesota on the road on Saturday. The loss against the Gophers was particularly rough, as Rutgers was poised to win in the final seconds, but couldn’t finish the deal. Rutgers now sits at 11-7 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play after the mixed results.
This week, Rutgers will get Maryland at home on Tuesday and Nebraska on the road on Saturday. If the Scarlet Knights are going to keep their NCAA hopes alive, both of these need to be wins. In fact, they might be the team’s two most winnable games left on the schedule.
#11 - Michigan Wolverines (+2)
The Wolverines had a fantastic performance this week, blowing out Maryland at home and beating a red hot Indiana team on the road on Sunday. The two wins pushed Michigan to 9-7 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play.
While it’s still a tad early to get into this discussion, it’s also worth mentioning that Michigan quietly rose to 38th nationally in the NET ratings last weekend, which would almost certainly put the Wolverines into the NCAA field if it were selected today. Again, too early to make any proclamations, but this will be an interesting team to watch moving forward.
Michigan will get Northwestern at home on Wednesday and Michigan State on the road this week. The Wolverines really need a split to keep the team’s momentum going.
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (-)
The Terps had a decent week. While Maryland opened things up with a blowout loss to Michigan on the road on Tuesday, it rebounded with an upset over Illinois at home on Friday night. It was unquestionably the team’s best win of the season and pushed the Terps to 10-9 overall and 2-6 in Big Ten play.
Maryland still has a tough road ahead, but the team does at least have a little momentum, having won two of its last four games. The Terps will get Rutgers on the road on Tuesday and Indiana at home on Saturday. Both games look winnable.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (-3)
The Wildcats had a rough week, falling at home to Wisconsin on Tuesday and on the road against Purdue on Sunday. The two losses dropped Northwestern to 9-8 overall and 2-6 in Big Ten play. Northwestern actually showed some things in both games, but simply didn’t have enough to beat either top 10 opponent.
Northwestern will return to action on Wednesday on the road against Michigan and at home against Illinois on Saturday. If the team is going to make the postseason, it feels like one of these needs to be a win.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-)
The Huskers had another rough week. Nebraska fell to Indiana at home on Monday and then was forced to adjourn the team’s remaining action due to COVID-19 issues. It’s been a rough go. Nebraska is presently scheduled to return to action on Thursday at home against Wisconsin. The team sits at 6-13 overall and 0-8 in Big Ten play.