With Sunday’s action wrapping up, we’re now officially one week into the season and it’s been quite a ride already. We got the Armed Forces Classic on Friday night involving Michigan State and a number of tune up games. Things are expected to get even better over the coming days with the Gavitt Games tipping off.
So, with that, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week One Power Rankings
#1 - Indiana Hoosiers (--)
The Hoosiers entered the season as the Big Ten favorites and did nothing to change that status, as the team cruised to two easy wins over Morehead State and Bethune Cookman. Trayce Jackson-Davis led the way in both games, finishing with 36 combined points. Freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino was also impressive, doing work in limited time. The blowout performances also pushed Indiana up to eighth nationally on KenPom.
This week, Indiana will get its first real test with Xavier on the road on Friday night. This is a game Indiana should win, but its hardly a gimme, as KenPom projects it as slightly better than a toss up. The Hoosiers will follow that up with a game against Miami (OH) at home on Sunday. The week figures to be a great opportunity for Indiana to start building its resume.
#2 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+1)
The Illini had a solid opening week, beating Eastern Illinois by 30 on opening night and following it up with a similarly dominant win over UMKC on Friday night. The wins pushed Illinois to 2-0 on the season. Neither opponent was expected to be particularly great this season, so it wasn’t enough to really move expectations.
However, while fans might have expected Illinois to hit the ground running, it’s an important step for this squad considering the massive overhaul the roster took in the offseason. This team is almost entirely different than the last one, with multiple newcomers starting and even more seeing playing time. So, even though the performances won’t turn heads, it’s nice to see Illinois playing together well. Matthew Mayer and Terrence Shannon have been great and freshman Skyy Clark is showing spark as well. That’s a best case scenario for fans.
Things will ratchet up significantly this week as Illinois gets Monmouth at home on Monday night and then heads out west to face off against UCLA on Friday in the Continental Tire main Event in Las Vegas. Illinois will then get either Baylor or Virginia on Sunday. All three teams are ranked in the top 11 on KenPom and should present major challenges. It’ll give us a great preview on how Illinois projects for this season.
#3 - Purdue Boilermakers (-1)
The Boilermakers scored two solid wins to open the season, knocking off Milwaukee at home on Tuesday night and Austin Peay on Friday night. As a result, Purdue now sits at 2-0 overall. It’s the second year in a row the Boilers have reached the 2-0 mark.
Purdue will now prepare for its first real challenge this week with Marquette at home on Tuesday night as part of the annual Gavitt Games. The Boilers are clearly favored in the matchup and will hope to use the program’s home court advantage to get the win. It’s a rematch of a great battle between the two to start the 2019-’20 season, where the Golden Eagles beat the Boilermakers early in the season. Purdue will hope to get revenge.
#4 - Wisconsin Badgers (+5)
The Badgers were the only Big Ten squad to earn a marquee win last week, knocking off South Dakota at home on Monday and Stanford in Milwaukee on Friday. The win over the Cardinal turned a lot of heads, as it came by double-digits and against what many expect to be a pretty competitive team in the Pac 12.
The star for the Badgers in the win over Stanford was Tyler Wahl, who finished with 17 points and five rebounds in the outing. Freshman Connor Essegian also made his mark, finishing with eight points in his first notable college action. The performance was a great sign about where Wisconsin could progress this season.
This week, Wisconsin only has one game with Green Bay at home on Tuesday night. The Badgers will then be off until heading to the Bahamas for a Thanksgiving tournament.
#5 - Michigan Wolverines (-1)
The Wolverines had an interesting opening week. Michigan began with a solid win over Purdue Fort Wayne on Monday night, but then had to battle its way to surviving against Eastern Michigan in Detroit on Friday night. The latter game was particularly competitive, ending in the final minutes and after Eastern had led for quite some time.
At this point, it’s hard to tell whether Friday’s performance was a sign of trouble or something that should be overlooked. On the one hand, Eastern doesn’t project to be particularly good this season and Michigan should have been able to do more than escape with a five-point win. On the other, the game was largely competitive because Emoni Bates went ballistic for the Eagles, who transferred from Memphis this offseason. Bates was previously regarded as one of the most talented players on the recruiting trail. In short, this could have been more about Bates than Michigan. We’ll have to wait and see.
Michigan will head out to New York this week to face off against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The team will then face either Arizona State or VCU on Thursday night. The Wolverines are expected to be favored in the two matchups.
#6 - Michigan State Spartans (-1)
The Spartans went 1-1 to open the season. While the team took care of business against Northern Arizona at home on Monday night, it fell short against Gonzaga on Friday in what ended up being a really competitive game. The Spartans performed particularly well in the first half, but just couldn’t slow down Drew Timme enough late to get the win.
Perhaps the most encouraging thing for Spartan fans about Friday night was the play of Mady Sissoko. The forward was really inconsistent last season, but showed some great growth in Friday night’s outing, holding his own against Timme and Anton Watson for large segments. If he can keep that up, it could mean big things for the Spartans moving forward.
Michigan State will continue its marquee slate this week with Kentucky in the Champions Classic on Tuesday and Villanova at home on Friday night. Even a 1-1 performance against that slate would be massive for the team’s resume moving forward.
#7 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)
The Hawkeyes cruised to two easy wins to open the season, blowing out Bethune Cookman at home on Monday night and North Carolina A&T at home on Friday. Neither game was competitive and Iowa was able to unload its bench.
Iowa will get its first real test of the season this week with Seton Hall on the road on Wednesday night. The Hawkeyes are minor underdogs in that outing, so the team will have its work cut out to get a win. All eyes will be on Kris Murray and whether he’ll be able to carry the team in a game of this magnitude.
#8 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes also cruised to two easy wins to open the season, blasting Robert Morris on Monday night and Charleston Southern at home on Tuesday night. The wins pushed Ohio State to 2-0. It’s a mark the Buckeyes have reached every season with Chris Holtmann.
It’ll be another relatively quiet run this week with Eastern Illinois at home on Wednesday in the team’s lone outing. Don’t expect things to be competitive.
#9 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1)
The Scarlet Knights went a perfect 3-0 in the team’s opening week, beating Columbia on Monday, Sacred Heart on Thursday, and UMass Lowell on Saturday. All three games came at home with Rutgers controlling each outing. The game with UMass Lowell was a bit closer than fans might have liked, but it was still a comfortable win for Rutgers.
Rutgers will get its first notable game this week with Temple on a neutral court on Friday night. The Scarlet Knights figure to be favored in that game, but only by a small margin. Expect a relatively competitive game.
#10 - Penn State Nittany Lions (--)
The Nittany Lions had a really impressive opening week, blowing out a relatively respectable Winthrop team on Monday night and beating Loyola (Maryland) by a similar margin on Thursday. The wins pushed Penn State to 2-0 on the season and up 13 spots on KenPom in just a week of the season. A remarkable rise for that time frame.
Penn State will get some major challenges this week with Butler at home on Monday night and then three games in the Charleston Classic this week. Things will open up against Furman on Thursday, with Old Dominion or Virginia Tech on Friday, and a potential game against South Carolina or Davidson on Sunday. Penn State has a legitimate shot at winning all four games, which would massively boost the team’s long-term hopes.
#11 - Maryland Terrapins (--)
The Terps had a decent opening week, beating Niagara at home on Monday night and Western Carolina at home on Thursday night. While Maryland won both games comfortably, the teams kept it close enough to prevent the Terps from rising up these rankings.
This week, things will ratchet up considerably, as Maryland gets Binghamton at home on Tuesday, Saint Louis in Connecticut on Saturday, and either Miami (FL) or Providence on Sunday. If the team can at least go 2-1 in that stretch, it would be a great step.
#12 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats were another team that grabbed two easy wins to open the season, beating Chicago State at home on Monday night and Northern Illinois at home on Friday. Both games were decided by at least 15 points. Northwestern will now hope to keep things rolling with a much tougher slate. The Wildcats get Georgetown on the road on Tuesday and Purdue Fort Wayne at home on Friday. Both games could be challenging.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
While the Huskers opened the season with wins over Maine and Nebraska Omaha, it was hardly the performance that breeds confidence in what’s to come later this year. The game against Maine was relatively competitive and Omaha showed more fight than Huskers fans wanted to see.
Ultimately, Nebraska is still 2-0, which gives the team a chance to work on its issues with an unblemished resume. However, that’s not going to last long without some improvement. Nebraska will now prepare for St. John’s on the road on Thursday and Arkansas Pine Bluff at home on Sunday. The game against the Red Storm looks particularly difficult.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-2)
The Gophers also had a relatively frustrating week, needing a late run to avoid a loss to Western Michigan on opening night and beating a horrid St. Francis team on Friday night. Like Nebraska, Minnesota won both of its games, so we want to avoid overreacting to early season margins of victory. However, significant improvement is going to be needed if the Gophers are going to avoid losses in the future. That will start this week with DePaul at home on Monday and central Michigan at home on Thursday.