The Big Ten had a bit of a round robin this week, with each of the league’s title contenders mixing good results with bad, including a really bizarre week for Purdue, who went from looking like a title contender to a mess in a few days. 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 14 Power Rankings
#1 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-)
Illinois had a relatively underwhelming week, falling on the road to Purdue on Tuesday and narrowly escaping against Northwestern at home on Sunday. Still, even if the performances were rough, Illinois remains in good position at 18-6 overall and 11-3 in Big Ten play and only six regular season games left.
In a lot of ways, this feels like a make or break week for Illinois. The team now gets Rutgers on the road on Wednesday and Michigan State on the road on Saturday. Sweep those two and you’ve likely got a share of the Big Ten title in the bag, particularly with three of the last four at home. However, that’s a tall task, especially with how Rutgers is playing right now. We’ll see if Illinois can find a way to get the job done. A loss in either game will open the door again in the Big Ten race.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (-)
The Boilermakers had an odd week, beating Illinois at home by double-digits on Tuesday but following it up with subpar efforts against Michigan and Maryland. Purdue fell to the Wolverines by 24 points and almost blew the game against the Terps at home on Sunday, needing some great play down the stretch to avoid a second straight upset.
Still, like some of the other teams on this list, it’s hard to complain too much about an “ugly” win this late in the season. It’s about surviving and advancing, especially with a conference title still on the line. And Purdue is just a game out of first with five games remaining. It’s simply about getting the job done, whether it looks pretty or not.
Purdue will now prepare for a manageable week with Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and Rutgers at home on Sunday. It’s likely going to take two wins for the Boilermakers to keep pace in the Big Ten title race.
#3 - Wisconsin Badgers (-)
The Badgers split their games this week, beating Michigan State on the road on Tuesday and falling at home to Rutgers on Saturday. The latter loss was shocking for a variety of reasons, but especially given how the team had played at home recently. The mixed results left Wisconsin sitting at 19-5 overall and 10-4 in Big Ten play.
With just six games remaining, Wisconsin’s sitting in solid position for the Big Ten title. While the Badgers are a full game behind Illinois in the standings, that’s not exactly an insurmountable deficit, especially considering what Illinois has remaining on the slate. But, perhaps more importantly, Wisconsin also has a really manageable closing slate. The Badgers only have one game remaining against the league’s “top tier” and it comes at home against Purdue in early March. Win that and it’s not unreasonable to think Wisconsin might win out. If so, the Big Ten title should be sitting there.
That effort will begin this week with Indiana on the road on Tuesday and Michigan at home on Sunday. Both games fall within the tossup range on KenPom. We’ll have to see what happens.
#4 - Michigan State Spartans (-)
The Spartans had a mixed week, falling at home to Wisconsin on Tuesday and bouncing back with a win over Indiana at home on Saturday. The split left Michigan State sitting at 18-6 overall and 9-4 in Big Ten play. The team continues to play pretty well, having won three of the team’s last five games.
Michigan State remains in the handful of teams with a serious shot at the Big Ten title. While a full game out of first place, a path remains on the table, especially with home games remaining against Illinois and Purdue in the next few weeks. Upset those two and the team could really rise in the standings.
This week, Michigan State will get Penn State on the road on Tuesday and Illinois at home on Saturday. KenPom favors the Spartans in both games, but only narrowly. It’s hard to see the Spartans getting a share of the Big Ten title without going at least 1-1 in those two games.
#5 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+2)
The Hawkeyes had a great week, blasting Maryland on the road on Thursday and following it up with a great win over Nebraska on Sunday as well. The two wins pushed Iowa to 17-7 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play. Iowa has now won three straight and four of its last six games. Another win or two and it should slide into the top 25.
This week, Iowa will get Michigan at home on Thursday. It figures to be a great opportunity for the Hawkeyes to build their resume toward March.
#6 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes went 1-1 this week, falling to Rutgers on the road on Wednesday, but rebounding with a win over arch-rival Michigan on the road on Saturday. The split left Ohio State sitting at 15-6 overall and 8-4 in Big Ten play.
Ohio State is probably the least discussed Big Ten title contender, but the Buckeyes enter the last few weeks of the regular season with only four conference losses and a path toward bringing a trophy to Columbus. Pull off an upset or two and a title could be sitting there. The Buckeyes will get Minnesota at home on Tuesday and Indiana at home on Saturday. Both games look winnable.
#7 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights had a tremendous week, beating Ohio State at home on Wednesday and Wisconsin on the road on Saturday. It was a shocking performance and one that could drastically change the direction of this season. Rutgers went from a fringe NIT team to a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender in just four days. Obviously, it was a wild stretch for Scarlet Knight fans.
Rutgers now finds itself sitting at 15-9 overall and 9-5 in Big Ten play with six games remaining this season. And while those games look challenging, a path is there. Here’s the slate, with KenPom’s game odds noted with each matchup:
- 2/16 - Illinois (35%)
- 2/20 - at Purdue (14%)
- 2/23 - at Michigan (27%)
- 2/26 - Wisconsin (49%)
- 3/2 - at Indiana (29%)
- 3/6 - Penn State (65%)
Again, a tough stretch, but not impossible. Three of the games are at home and two of the road games (Michigan and Purdue) are against teams Rutgers has already beaten. We’ll see if the team can get the job done, but even three wins gets Rutgers to 18, which is absolutely bubble range in this year’s Big Ten. We’ll see if the team can get the job done.
#8 - Michigan Wolverines (+1)
The Wolverines had a largely positive week, going 2-1 against a pretty challenging slate. Michigan beat Penn State on the road on Tuesday, followed it up with a blowout win over Purdue on Thursday, and then fell to Ohio State at home on Saturday. As a result, Michigan now sits at 13-10 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play.
Like Rutgers, Michigan is sitting squarely in bubble range. A path is there, but it’s going to take some big wins to get there. Here’s what Michigan has remaining, with KenPom’s game odds noted alongside each matchup:
- 2/17 - at Iowa (30%)
- 2/20 - at Wisconsin (39%)
- 2/23 - Rutgers (73%)
- 2/27 - Illinois (48%)
- 3/1 - Michigan State (58%)
- 3/3 - Iowa (52%)
- 3/6 - at Ohio State (31%)
That’s an intriguing slate, no matter your perspective. Michigan is presently favored in three games and has two others squarely in tossup range (Illinois and at Wisconsin). Win the ones you’re “supposed to” and pull off an upset and you’re sitting at 17-13 heading into the Big Ten Tournament. That’s the definition of a bubble team. It’s going to be a stressful ride for Wolverine fans the next few weeks.
#9 - Indiana Hoosiers (-3)
The Hoosiers had a rough week, falling on the road against Northwestern on Tuesday and on the road against Michigan State on Saturday. The second loss was also particularly rough, coming by 15 points in a game that was largely uncompetitive in the second half. Following the losses, Indiana finds itself sitting at 16-8 overall and 7-7 in Big Ten play.
It’s still a little early to be hitting the panic button on the Hoosiers, but fans have to be getting a bit nervous, and rightfully so. Since knocking off Purdue in January, the team is 2-4 with three of the losses coming by double-digits and the only wins coming against struggling Maryland and Penn State teams. Those struggles have led to a 14 spot drop on KenPom and a huge hit to Indiana’s once promising NCAA resume. Simply put, things are heading in the wrong direction and they could get ugly if the team doesn’t flip the script soon.
Fortunately, Indiana gets some nice opportunities this week with Wisconsin at home on Tuesday and Ohio State on the road on Saturday. Even a split in those games would flip the narrative and get the Hoosiers back headed in the right direction.
#10 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats had a pretty solid week, beating Indiana at home on Tuesday and falling to Illinois on the road in a competitive game on Sunday. The split left Northwestern sitting at 12-11 overall and 5-9 in Big Ten play.
While most have already given up on the Wildcats, it’s important to note that the team still has a viable path to an at-large bid. It’s not a likely one, but it’s there. This is what the team has remaining, with KenPom odds noted alongside each game:
- 2/16 - Purdue (35%)
- 2/19 - at Minnesota (52%)
- 2/22 - Nebraska (88%)
- 2/25 - at Penn State (48%)
- 2/28 - at Iowa (24%)
- 3/6 - Minnesota (74%)
Northwestern is outright favored in three of those games, a narrow underdog against Penn State, and gets a huge upset opportunity against Purdue. That’s five potential wins sitting on the table there without even squinting too much, which would push Northwestern to 17-12 overall heading into the Big Ten Tournament. Again, not a likely scenario, but that would put the team right on the bubble. We’ll see if they can get the job done.
#11 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-2)
The Nittany Lions lost both of the team’s games this week, falling at home to Michigan on Tuesday and on the road against Minnesota on Saturday. The two losses dropped Penn State to 9-12 overall and 4-9 in Big Ten play. They also eliminated any remaining at-large hopes for the program this year.
Penn State will now prepare for Michigan State at home on Tuesday and Minnesota at home on Thursday. An upset or two would be a big boost to morale, especially considering Penn State has lost three in a row and six of the team’s last seven games.
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (-)
The Terps lost both of the team’s games this week, getting blown out at home by Iowa on Thursday and following it up with a loss at Purdue on Sunday. The losses dropped Maryland to 11-14 overall and 3-11 in Big Ten play. Maryland will hope to get back on track this week with Nebraska at home on Friday.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers finally won a conference game this week, beating Minnesota at home on Wednesday. It was an emotional win for fans, the coaching staff, and the team. It’s the first serious sign of positivity since late December.
While Nebraska followed that win with a loss at Iowa on Sunday, the team is hoping to build momentum to close the year with Maryland at home on Friday. We’ll see if the Huskers can pull off another upset.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers split the team’s games this week, falling on the road against Nebraska on Wednesday and rebounding with a win over Penn State at home on Saturday night. As a result, Minnesota now sits at 12-10 overall and 3-10 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota will now prepare for Ohio State on the road on Tuesday and Penn State on the road on Thursday. The team will be a serious underdog in both games.