Last week was a massive one for the league, as it played its final ACC-Big Ten Challenge, then opened up conference play over the weekend. Every team saw at least one marquee opponent and many saw two. Of course, all the action shook up the rankings considerably.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week Four Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
The Boilermakers had a wonderful week, beating Florida State on the road on Wednesday and following it up with a win against Minnesota at home on Sunday. The wins pushed Purdue to 8-0 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play. Both wins came by double-digits. In fact, seven of Purdue’s eight wins so far have come by double-digits.
Purdue’s primary advantage so far has been Zach Edey, who’s putting together an All-American campaign. KenPom ranks him as the nation’s best player and it’s easy to see why. Edey has been a beast down low and on the boards. In Sunday’s win over the Gophers, he finished with an incredible 31 points and 22 rebounds.
This week, Purdue will try to keep things rolling with Hofstra at home on Wednesday and Nebraska on the road on Saturday. While the Boilers will be favored in both games, both opponents are viable threats. If Purdue can sweep the games, it would be another great step in the right direction.
#2 - Maryland Terrapins (+2)
The Terps have been one of the best stories in college basketball so far this season, storming out of the gates after a horrendous 2021-’22 campaign where Mark Turgeon left the program midseason. It’s been fun to watch and it only continued last week, as Maryland remained undefeated after beating Louisville on the road on Tuesday and Illinois at home on Friday. The latter win pushed the Terps to 8-0 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play.
While it still feels like the bottom’s going to fall out on the Terps at some point, we’re getting deep enough in the year where those concerns are starting to fade. After all, you can only beat so many quality programs before the “fluke” comments ring hollow. And that’s where Maryland is right now. The Terps have risen from 56th to 19th on KenPom and it feels like the team is here to stay.
Maryland will hope to keep its undefeated run going this week with Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and Tennessee in New York on Sunday. KenPom views both as really competitive games. If the Terps can even go 1-1 against the two, it would be a pretty solid performance.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (—)
The Illini split the team’s games this week, blowing out Syracuse at home on Tuesday, but falling on the road to Maryland on Friday. The loss to the Terps was a particularly rough one, as Illinois kept things competitive throughout, but just didn’t have the extra gear to grab the win in the final minutes. The mixed results left Illinois sitting at 6-2 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play.
Through eight games, there’s no debating Illinois is a solid team. The squad beat UCLA last month and has held serve against the weaker opponents on its slate. However, the question is whether this group will be anything special or simply a solid team. And that’s going to be determined in games like Friday’s against the Terps. Fans are hoping close losses won’t become a trend this season.
This week, Illinois will get Texas in New York on Tuesday and Penn State at home on Saturday. It’s a massive resume opportunity for the team. The Longhorns look like an elite team and Penn State’s been sneakily good so far this season. Sweep those games and it would go a long way toward Illinois’ postseason hopes.
#4 - Indiana Hoosiers (-2)
The Hoosiers had mixed results this week, beating North Carolina at home on Wednesday in an epic showdown, but falling short on the road against Rutgers on Saturday. The split left Indiana sitting at 7-1 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play.
The loss to Rutgers was particularly rough, as Indiana finished with 0.73 points per possession and Miller Kopp was the only player to finish with an offensive rating above 90. While it’s just one result, it showed a lot of issues with Indiana’s lineup. Expect other teams to try and replicate what Rutgers did on Saturday. It’s up to Indiana to adjust.
Moving forward, Indiana will prepare for Nebraska at home on Wednesday and Arizona in Las Vegas on Saturday. The latter game presents as a potential meeting in March. We’ll see if the Hoosiers can grab another statement win.
#5 - Wisconsin Badgers (+2)
The Badgers began the week with a rough loss at home to Wake Forest on Tuesday, but rebounded with a road win over Marquette on Saturday. The win over the Eagles pushed Wisconsin to 6-2 overall and marked the team’s fourth win over a quality opponent already.
This week, Wisconsin gets Maryland at home on Tuesday and Iowa on the road on Sunday. Both project as really challenging games. Badger fans should be hoping the team can pull off at least one upset in the two.
#6 - Penn State Nittany Lions (—)
The Nittany Lions had a disappointing performance this week, falling on the road to Clemson in double overtime on Tuesday. The loss dropped Penn State to 6-2 overall and to 2-2 over the team’s last four outings. Penn State’s defense was particularly concerning in the loss, as the Nittany Lions gave up 1.2 points per possession to a decent, but not great Tigers squad. It certainly wasn’t an encouraging sign.
Penn State will now get what projects as its toughest week of the season yet, with Michigan State at home on Wednesday and Illinois on the road on Saturday. KenPom favors the Nittany Lions against the Spartans, but projects Penn State as a sizable underdog against Illinois. As such, fans should be hoping for a split here. Anything beyond that would really boost the team’s postseason hopes.
#7 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes had two games this week, facing Duke on the road on Wednesday and St. Francis at home on Saturday. Ohio State split the games, falling to Duke and beating St. Francis. The mixed results left the Buckeyes sitting at 6-2 overall.
Generally speaking, Ohio State remains in solid position. While the loss to Duke was disappointing, falling on the road to a team like the Blue Devils certainly isn’t anything embarrassing. It’s a really talented opponent in a tough venue. And the team’s resume otherwise remains strong, with wins over Cincinnati and Texas Tech and a top 25 ranking on KenPom. If the Buckeyes can build on that a bit this month, a good bid in March looks likely.
And that effort will begin this week with Rutgers at home on Thursday and North Carolina in New York on Saturday. Both games look challenging, but KenPom favors the Buckeyes in both, so they’re certainly winnable.
#8 - Michigan State Spartans (-3)
The Spartans had an incredibly rough week, getting blown out on the road against Notre Dame on Wednesday and falling at home to Northwestern on Sunday. Both games were significant disappointments after Michigan State’s fast start to the season. The losses dropped Michigan State to 5-4 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play.
At this point, it’s probably fair to re-evaluate Michigan State’s resume to date. While the Spartans jumped up the rankings early on, it’s fair to admit some of those opponents probably aren’t as good as we thought at the time. For example, Michigan State knocked off Villanova, but the Wildcats aren’t anywhere near their preseason hopes and sit at 52nd nationally on KenPom right now. Even Gonzaga and Kentucky have underwhelmed so far this season. Simply put, things haven’t aged particularly well.
The good news is Michigan State still has plenty of time to get things back on track. That will start with Penn State on the road on Wednesday and Brown at home on Saturday. Both are certainly winnable games. We’ll see if the Spartans can get the job done.
#9 - Iowa Hawkeyes (—)
The Hawkeyes had a positive week, winning the team’s only game at home against Georgia Tech on Tuesday. The game wasn’t particularly competitive, as Iowa cruised to an 81-65 win over the Yellow Jackets. Iowa now sits at 6-1 overall.
This week, Iowa will get a loaded slate with Duke in New York on Tuesday, Iowa State at home on Thursday, and Wisconsin at home on Sunday. It’s one of those three-game slates that could completely change the direction of the season. All three games look winnable, but none are even close to a lock, which makes it particularly important. Find a way to win two or three and your conference and postseason odds boost significantly. However, underwhelm and you could easily lost all three. It’ll be huge to follow.
#10 - Northwestern Wildcats (—)
The Wildcats had a mixed week, falling at home to Pittsburgh on Monday, but rebounding with a massive road win over Michigan State on Sunday. The win over the Spartans pushed Northwestern to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play. Oddly enough, it’s the second season in a row Northwestern has won in East Lansing and the third season in a row the Wildcats have won at least a game against the Spartans.
Northwestern will hope to build on the win over Michigan State this week with Prairie View A&M at home on Sunday. It’s the team’s only game of the week.
#11 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (—)
The Scarlet Knights had a largely successful week, going 1-1 against a really challenging slate. While Rutgers fell on the road to Miami (FL) on Wednesday, the team rebounded with an upset win over a top 10 Indiana squad on Saturday. The results left Rutgers sitting at 6-2 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play.
It’s hard to overstate the significance of the win over the Hoosiers here, but it’s one that could really change the direction of Rutgers’ season. While still early, Rutgers had struggled to close out games against quality opponents to date, so beating a team on Indiana’s level is a huge step in the right direction. It’s also a game that should significantly boost Rutgers’ resume as we move toward March.
Fans will hope Rutgers can keep the magic going this week with Ohio State on the road on Thursday and Seton Hall at home on Sunday. Given the slate, even a split would be great.
#12 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+2)
The Huskers had an incredible week, blowing out Boston College at home on Wednesday and beating a top 10 ranked Creighton squad on the road on Sunday. The wins pushed Nebraska to 6-3 overall. Sunday’s win over Creighton was Nebraska’s first win over a top 25 KenPom team since beating Iowa in January of 2020 before the pandemic.
What’s really been interesting is that Nebraska’s sudden rise really can’t be connected to a single thing. Different players contributed in each of the team’s recent wins, including 18 points from Sam Griesel in the win over Creighton. It’s been an incredible team effort.
Husker fans will hope Nebraska can continue the program’s rise this week with Indiana on the road on Wednesday and Purdue at home on Saturday. Both games look really difficult, but so did the Creighton game, so we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out.
#13 - Michigan Wolverines (-1)
The Wolverines had a rough week, losing both of the team’s outings. Michigan fell at home to Virginia on Tuesday and Kentucky in London on Sunday. While both games were highly competitive, Michigan simply couldn’t close things out in the final minutes to grab either upset. The losses dropped the team to 5-3 overall.
Michigan will now return home to the United States and hope to bounce back. The team gets Minnesota on the road on Thursday and Lipscomb at home on Saturday. Both games look winnable and Michigan desperately needs to sweep them.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (—)
The Gophers dropped both of the team’s games this week, falling on the road against Virginia Tech on Monday and Purdue on the road on Sunday. The losses dropped Minnesota to 4-4 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play. Gopher fans will hope the team can bounce back against Michigan at home on Thursday and Mississippi State at home on Sunday. KenPom projects the team as underdogs in both outings.