With the season quickly approaching its conclusion, Big Ten play has really been getting dialed up over the last few weeks, as teams compete for postseason positioning and the Big Ten regular season title. Of course, all the drama had a big impact on this week’s Power Rankings.
So, with that, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 15 Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (+1)
The Boilermakers had a solid week of play, beating Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and following it up with another win over Rutgers at home on Sunday. The second win pushed Purdue to 24-4 overall and 13-4 in Big Ten play. Notably, Purdue has now won three straight and nine of the team’s last 10 games.
Last week’s success put Purdue back atop the Big Ten standings with just three games remaining. However, Illinois and Wisconsin are just a half game back and project to have easier closing slates. That’ll put a ton of pressure on Purdue to close the season strong. The Boilermakers will likely need to go 3-0 or 2-1 to grab a share of the title.
Purdue’s title efforts will continue this week with Michigan State on the road on Saturday. The Spartans are currently amid a slide, but winning in East Lansing is never easy. We’ll see if Purdue can find a way to get the job done.
#2 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
Illinois had a mixed week, falling on the road against Rutgers on Wednesday and bouncing back with a massive road win at Michigan State on Saturday. The split left Illinois sitting at 19-7 overall, 12-4 in Big Ten play, and a half game out of first place in the Big Ten standings with just two weeks of the regular season remaining.
While it’s premature to say anything’s locked up, Saturday’s win over the Spartans was a substantial one for Illinois’ conference title hopes. That’s because it sets up Illinois with just four games left where three of them are at home and one looks pretty winnable on the road against Michigan. Winning out will be tough, but it’s on the table.
This week, Illinois will get Ohio State at home on Thursday and Michigan on the road on Sunday. Both games look like relative tossups.
#3 - Wisconsin Badgers (-)
The Badgers had a great week, winning at Indiana on Tuesday and following that up with a double-digit win over Michigan at home on Sunday. The two wins pushed Wisconsin to 21-5 overall and 12-4 in Big Ten play.
Like Purdue and Illinois, Wisconsin enters the final two weeks of the regular season in prime position for a share of the Big Ten regular season title. The Badgers have four games remaining and will likely need to go 3-1 or better to get the job done. That will begin with Minnesota on the road on Wednesday and Rutgers on the road on Saturday. KenPom favors the Badgers in both games, but only narrowly. It’ll take quite an effort to sweep this week.
One thing to keep an eye on is what happens as a result of the madness in Madison on Sunday. While most believe Juwan Howard and Michigan will face the brunt of the Big Ten’s punishment, don’t discount the chance of a suspension or two for Wisconsin as well. Obviously, Badger fans are hoping that doesn’t happen as it could severely hurt the team’s chances at a Big Ten title.
#4 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+1)
The Hawkeyes had a mixed week, falling at home against Michigan on Tuesday and rebounding with a win at Ohio State on Saturday. The latter result was particularly surprising given the loss to Michigan earlier in the week, as the Wolverines fell to the Buckeyes just a few days earlier. The split left Iowa sitting at 18-8 overall and 8-7 in Big Ten play.
Iowa continues to have a solid, but unexceptional resume. Every step forward is followed by a slip or vice versa. It just seems like the team can’t find a great balance and you can see it in the team’s overall trends. Iowa is just 4-3 over its last seven games and 5-4 in its last nine games. Iowa is winning, just not enough to set it apart from the nation’s solid teams.
The Hawkeyes will now get two important games this week with Michigan State at home on Tuesday and Nebraska on the road on Friday. KenPom favors the Hawkeyes in both games. We’ll have to wait and see if Iowa can deliver on expectations this week.
#5 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)
The Buckeyes had a relatively disappointing week, beating an underwhelming Minnesota team at home on Tuesday and falling at home against Iowa on Saturday. The loss dropped Ohio State to 16-7 overall and 9-5 in Big Ten play. The team still has an outside shot at a Big Ten title, but it’s going to need quite an effort down the stretch to get there.
Ohio State will get a challenging slate this week with Indiana at home on Monday, Illinois on the road on Thursday, and Maryland on the road on Sunday. All three games are winnable, but it’s going to be quite a challenge to sweep all three.
#6 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights had a largely positive week, beating Illinois at home on Wednesday and falling in a relatively competitive game against Purdue on the road on Sunday. The win over Illinois was particularly meaningful, as it was a huge boost to the Scarlet Knights’ postseason hopes.
Rutgers now finds itself sitting at 16-10 overall and 10-6 in Big Ten play with four games remaining this season. Things are starting to look pretty manageable. Here’s the slate, with KenPom’s game odds noted with each matchup:
- 2/23 - at Michigan (29%)
- 2/26 - Wisconsin (49%)
- 3/2 - at Indiana (32%)
- 3/6 - Penn State (64%)
Obviously, not an easy stretch, but not exactly overwhelming either. Two of the games are at home where Rutgers has been playing superbly and the two road games are against teams with some major question marks. Michigan’s likely looking at serious suspensions after the incident against Wisconsin on Sunday and Indiana has lost four straight. We’ll see if the team can get the job done.
#7 - Michigan State Spartans (-3)
The Spartans had a really rough week, falling on the road against Penn State on Tuesday and at home against Illinois on Saturday. The losses dropped Michigan State to 18-8 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play.
It’s hard to hit the panic button on a team with Michigan State’s overall resume, but fans have to be seriously concerned about where things are trending. The Spartans have now lost four of five and are just 4-6 in the team’s last 10 games. Those struggles have almost certainly cost Michigan State a shot at a Big Ten title and likely a top seed as well. The team needs to turn things around and soon. Otherwise, March could really derail.
Michigan State will get two challenging games this week with Iowa on the road on Tuesday and Purdue at home on Saturday. KenPom projects the Spartans as underdogs in both games.
#8 - Michigan Wolverines (-)
The Wolverines split the team’s games this week, beating Iowa on the road on Thursday and falling on the road against Wisconsin on Sunday. The split left Michigan sitting at 14-11 overall and 8-7 in Big Ten play.
However, it was the events following Sunday’s loss to Wisconsin that will dominant discussion of this team and program moving forward. Howard and multiple players were involved in a postgame scuffle that will almost certainly result in severe sanctions. You can read the full writeup on the events here.
What’s particularly unfortunate for Wolverine fans is that Michigan was set to enter a stretch of games where the team could really build its NCAA resume the next few weeks. Here’s what Michigan had left on the docket, with KenPom’s game odds noted alongside each matchup:
- 2/23 - Rutgers (71%)
- 2/27 - Illinois (50%)
- 3/1 - Michigan State (60%)
- 3/3 - Iowa (51%)
- 3/6 - at Ohio State (32%)
That’s four games in a row at home and a road trip against Ohio State, who just lost its most recent home game against Iowa. It’s unlikely Michigan would have swept all five games, regardless of the events on Sunday, but 3-2 or 4-1 certainly wasn’t off the table, and that probably would have been enough to get Michigan in the field.
Unfortunately, the team now has to see how many players it’s going to be down moving forward and likely without its head coach for the foreseeable future. That’s a disappointing result for a team that seemed to be turning the corner. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the days ahead.
#9 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+2)
The Nittany Lions had a great week, scoring two solid wins. Penn State knocked off a ranked Michigan State squad at home on Tuesday and Minnesota at home on Thursday. The two wins pushed Penn State to 11-12 overall and 9-9 in Big Ten play. They also restored some positivity into the team’s season.
Penn State will hope to build on that this week with Maryland on the road on Monday and Northwestern at home on Friday. Both games look winnable.
#10 - Indiana Hoosiers (-1)
The Hoosiers lost the team’s only game this week at home against Wisconsin on Tuesday. It was the team’s fourth straight loss and dropped Indiana to 16-9 overall and 7-8 in Big Ten play. Indiana’s once promising NCAA resume is quickly spiraling. The team needs to score wins and soon. That effort will start this week with Ohio State on the road on Monday, Maryland at home on Thursday, and Minnesota on the road on Sunday. Indiana needs to go 2-1 or better.
#11 - Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
The Wildcats had a rough week, falling at home to Purdue at home on Wednesday and Minnesota on the road on Saturday. The two losses dropped Northwestern to 12-13 overall and 5-11 in Big Ten play. Unfortunately, the losses also killed Northwestern’s slim remaining NCAA hopes. Fans will now hope the team can get back on track and build momentum for the Big Ten Tournament this week against Nebraska at home on Tuesday and Penn State on the road on Friday.
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (-)
The Terps won the team’s only game this week, beating Nebraska on the road on Friday. The win pushed Maryland to 12-14 overall and 4-11 in Big Ten play. Maryland will hope to build on that this week with Penn State at home on Monday, Indiana on the road on Thursday, and Ohio State at home on Sunday. Even a 2-1 performance there would be great.
#13 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)
The Gophers split the team’s games this week, falling on the road against Penn State on Thursday and beating Northwestern at home on Saturday. The split left Minnesota at 13-12 overall and 4-12 in Big Ten play. The team will now get two key opportunities this week against Wisconsin at home on Wednesday and Indiana at home on Sunday. Both will pose major challenges for the Gophers.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Huskers lost the team’s only game this week at home against Maryland on Friday. The loss dropped Nebraska to 7-19 overall and 1-14 in Big Ten play. Nebraska will now hope to get back on track against Northwestern on the road on Tuesday and Iowa at home on Friday.