While the season technically started two weeks ago, it’s fair to view last week as the true start to the season, as the Gavitt Games began and nearly every Big Ten team faced off against a competent opponent or two. Of course, those results shock up the rankings significantly.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week Two Power Rankings
#1 - Indiana Hoosiers (--)
The Hoosiers had a fantastic week, beating Xavier on the road on Friday and knocking off Miami (OH) in Indianapolis on Sunday. The two wins pushed Indiana to 4-0 on the season and up to eighth nationally on KenPom. For context, Indiana’s last fniish that high on KenPom was during the 2012-’13 season, when the Hoosiers won the Big Ten.
While Trayce Jackson-Davis did work against Xavier, perhaps the most notable aspect of the game was the emergence of the team’s freshmen. Malik Reneau finished with 12 points and Jalen Hood-Schifino played 29 minutes as well. Having two freshmen play that much in a big game like that will yield dividends in the months ahead, especially when you already have established stars like Jackson-Davis.
Indiana will get a soft slate this week with Little Rock at home on Wednesday and Jackson State at home on Friday. KenPom has the Hoosiers as roughly 30-point favorites in both games. Don’t expect anything competitive.
#2 - Illinois Fighting Illini (--)
The Illini had a heck of a week, beating Monmouth at home on Monday and then splitting with UCLA and and Virginia in Las Vegas over the weekend. The win over the Bruins was particularly impressive, as Illinois got 29 points from Terrence Shannon. Matthew Mayer also had 11 points in that win, so it was truly a statement of the program’s newcomers.
While the loss to Virginia was a disappointing one, Illinois still sits at 4-1 overall and it’s hard to complaint too much about a narrow loss on a neutral court to a team ranked fifth nationally on KenPom, especially given how much transition Illinois went through this offseason. This team is still growing. There are going to be some hiccups.
This week, things should be much easier for Illinois. The team is off until Friday, when it will face Lindenwood at home for Illinois’ only game of the week. It should be an easy win.
#3 - Michigan State Spartans (+3)
The Spartans had an incredible week of play, beating Kentucky in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night and following it up with a win over Villanova at home on Friday. The two wins pushed Michigan State to 3-1 overall and up these Power Rankings significantly.
A lot has gone right for Michigan State so far this season, but perhaps nothing more than the play of the frontcourt. Joey Hauser has looked like an All-Big Ten forward and Mady Sissoko has turned into a capable big man alongside him. The Spartans have struggled with inconsistent frontcourts in recent years, so getting this type of production so early is really encouraging regarding whether the team could be heading.
Things will remain interesting for fans this week as Michigan State heads west to play in the Phil Knight tournament, opening with Alabama on Thursday. The team will then get UConn or Oregon on Friday and another game on Sunday. It’s another great opportunity for the Spartans to build their resume.
#4 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+3)
The Hawkeyes only had one game last week, but it was a notable one against Seton Hall on the road on Wednesday. Fortunately for fans, Iowa not only showed up in the game, but took care of business, grabbing an 83-67 road win over the Pirates. Kris Murray was fantastic in the outing, finishing with 29 points and 11 rebounds.
Iowa now sits at 3-0 and 15th nationally on KenPom following the win. The Hawkeyes look every bit like an NCAA squad and will hope to build on that in the coming days with Omaha at home on monday and a trip to Florida over the weekend. Iowa will get Clemson on Friday and then either California or TCU on Saturday. Both should be quality opponents.
#5 - Purdue Boilermakers (-2)
The Boilermakers won the team’s lone game last week, beating Marquette at home on Tuesday night. The team’s defense struggled significantly in that game, giving up 1.06 points per possession. It took a huge effort from Zach Edey to avoid the upset.
Purdue will get a much busier slate this week as the team heads to Portland for a matchup against West Virginia on Wednesday as part of the Phil Knight tournament. The team will then face Portland State or Gonzaga on Friday and have one more game on Sunday. It’s a chance for Purdue to really build its resume.
#6 - Maryland Terrapins (+5)
The Terps had a fantastic week of play, knocking off Binghamton on Tuesday, Saint Louis on Saturday, and Miami (FL) on Sunday. The latter two were both in the top 50 on KenPom and Maryland not only won, but did so convincingly. The wins pushed Maryland to 5-0 overall and up to 22nd nationally on KenPom. It’s been a stark rise for the program so far.
Fortunately for fans, Maryland will get a bit of a reprieve this week with Coppin State at home on Friday for the team’s only game. It should be an easy win for the Terps.
#7 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-3)
The Nittany Lions had a really productive week, going 3-1 against a formidable slate. Penn State knocked off Butler on Monday, Furman on Thursday, and Colorado State on Sunday. And while the team couldn’t deliver against Virginia Tech on Friday, the game was competitive and Penn State easily could have won. And while that might not sound encouraging, it’s a major step for the program, who finished 14-17 last season.
The two players who are really emerging for Penn State are Jalen Pickett and true freshman Kebba Njie. Pickett looks like an All-Big Ten contributor and Njie looks like someone who could really emerge during the second half of the season. And adding them to a team that already has nice players like Myles Dread and Seth Lundy is really encouraging.
This week, Penn State should get a breather. The team only has one game, which will come against Lafayette at home on Friday. It should be a win.
#8 - Wisconsin Badgers (-4)
The Badgers had a quiet week, with just one game against Green Bay at home on Tuesday. The win pushed Wisconsin to 3-0 on the season heading into its trip to the Bahamas, which begins on Wednesday. The Badgers will open with Dayton on Wednesday and get either Kansas or North Carolina State on Thursday and one more game on Friday. It’s a major opportunity for the team to quickly string together three resume wins.
Additionally, it’s important to note here that Wisconsin’s drop had a lot more to do with other teams in the Power Rankings than the Badgers. Just stay tuned. If the team does well in the Bahamas, it’ll rise back up.
#9 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes had a quiet week with only one game, which came at home to Eastern Illinois on Wednesday. The win pushed Ohio State to 3-0 on the season. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes suffered the same fate as Wisconsin, dropping here due to other team’s rises. The team looks good so far, but still hasn’t faced a quality opponent. However, that will change this week as the team heads to Maui on Monday. Things will open up against San Diego State.
#10 - Northwestern Wildcats (+2)
The Wildcats had a solid performance last week, beating Georgetown on the road on Tuesday and Purdue Fort Wayne at home on Friday. The wins pushed Northwestern to 4-0 overall. The game against the Mastodons was a tad closer than fans would have liked, but the win over Georgetown was a huge one for the team’s resume moving forward.
This week, Northwestern will head to Mexico for its early season tournament. The team will open up against Liberty on Tuesday.
#11 - Michigan Wolverines (-6)
The Wolverines went 2-1 in the team’s games last week, but did so in perhaps the most disappointing way possible. While Michigan opened things up with a dominant win over Pittsburgh in New York on Wednesday, the Wolverines followed it up with a blowout loss to Arizona State on Thursday in one of the program’s worst showings in years and a frantic overtime win against lowly Ohio at home on Sunday.
Naturally, many have starting wondering about Michigan’s prospects based on the early season struggles and rightfully so. The Wolverines have not only raised the blood pressure of their fans, but have dropped nearly 20 spots on KenPom since the season began. Michigan now sits at 42nd nationally and is currently projected to finish an underwhelming 17-14 overall. And considering how much preseason data remains in the KenPom ratings, that’s a scary drop for five games of action.
Michigan fans will have to hope Juwan Howard and his staff can begin turning things around over Thanksgiving break. The Wolverines only have one game this week, which comes on Wednesday at home against Jackson State. It should be a win.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-3)
The Scarlet Knights had a rough week, dropping the team’s only game against Temple on Friday. While Rutgers wasn’t full strength for the matchup, it was a game the team should have been capable of winning. Unfortunately, the offense struggled significantly, as the team fizzled to 0.90 points per possession and most of the roster struggled to find the bottom of the basket. The loss dropped Rutgers to 3-1 overall.
Rutgers will hope to get back on track this week with two easy opponents. The Scarlet Knights get Rider at home on Tuesday and Central Connecticut on Saturday.
#13 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)
The Gophers split the team’s games last week, falling at home to DePaul on Monday night and rebounding against Central Michigan at home on Thursday. The team now sits at 3-1 overall. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge has been the continued absence of Jamison Battle, who’s been sidelined with injury. Fans are desperately hoping he returns soon.
Minnesota will now prepare for the team’s early season tournament, beginning with Cal Baptist on Monday. It’s quietly a sneakily tough game. The Gophers will need to be locked in. It’s unclear if Battle will play in it.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Huskers had a relatively disappointing week, falling on the road to St. John’s by 20 points on Thursday and bouncing back against Arkansas Pine Bluff at home on Sunday. The split left Nebraska sitting at 3-1 overall, but still lacking any quality wins this season. Nebraska will now head to Florida this week, opening up play against Oklahoma on Thursday. It’s going to be a tough matchup for the Huskers.