Last week was a thrilling one across the Big Ten, as fans got treated with a plethora of great games and a handful of surprising outcomes, including a few massive upsets over the weekend. Of course, all the drama had a big impact on this week’s Power Rankings, especially as we move toward March.
So, with that, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 16 Power Rankings
#1 - Wisconsin Badgers (+2)
The Badgers had a fantastic week, beating Minnesota on the road on Wednesday and Rutgers on the road on Saturday. The second win was particularly noteworthy, as the Scarlet Knights had been fantastic at home over the last few months. The wins pushed Wisconsin to 23-5 overall and 14-4 in Big Ten play.
Wisconsin now enters the final week of the regular season with a full game lead in the Big Ten standings. It’s an enviable position, meaning even one win this week will deliver the Badgers a share of the regular season title. And with two home games left on the docket, that seems incredibly likely. In fact, TRank now gives Wisconsin a 95.2 percent chance to grab at least a share of the conference title, which is an incredible number given how unpredictable the season has been to date.
This week, Wisconsin will get Purdue at home on Tuesday and Nebraska at home on Sunday. Expect two fantastic environments in Madison.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (-1)
The Boilermakers lost the team’s only game this week, falling on the road in a tightly contested game against Michigan State on Saturday. It snapped a three-game winning streak for Purdue and drastically hurt the team’s Big Ten title hopes. Purdue presently sits a game back from Wisconsin in the standings at 24-5 overall and 13-5 in Big Ten play.
The good news is Purdue still has its destiny in its own control with Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and Indiana at home on Saturday. A sweep will deliver Purdue a Big Ten title. We’ll have to wait and see if the Boilermakers can deliver.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
Illinois split the team’s games last week, falling at home to Ohio State on Thursday and rebounding with a road win over Michigan on Sunday. The mixed results left Illinois sitting at 20-8 overall and 13-5 in Big Ten play. The performance continued a relatively rough run for Illinois, as the team is only 3-3 over its last six games.
Like Purdue above, Illinois enters this week a game behind Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings and hoping to sweep its final two games to get there. However, unlike Purdue, Illinois doesn’t control its own destiny. It needs Purdue to beat Wisconsin and to win its final two games. And that won’t be a gimme with Penn State at home on Thursday and Iowa at home on Sunday. The Hawkeyes have been particularly dangerous lately.
#4 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-)
The Hawkeyes had another great week of play, blowing out Michigan State at home on Tuesday and beating rival Nebraska on the road on Friday. The two wins pushed Iowa to 20-8 overall and 10-7 in Big Ten play.
It’s hard to understate how well Iowa’s been playing lately. The Hawkeyes have now won three straight and six of the team’s last seven games, including road games at Ohio State and Maryland and home games against Michigan State and Minnesota. Throw in a sweep over Nebraska and fans have to be thrilled with that. The run has pushed Iowa all the way up to 15th nationally on KenPom and in consideration for a great seed in March. If these Power Rankings were solely based on last week’s results, Iowa might be one or two.
Iowa will close the regular season with three tricky games this week. The Hawkeyes get Northwestern at home on Monday, Michigan on the road on Thursday, and Illinois on the road on Sunday. Even a 2-1 performance against that slate would be noteworthy.
#5 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-)
The Buckeyes had an incredibly bizarre week, beating Indiana in overtime on Monday, upsetting Illinois on the road on Thursday, and then falling on the road against Maryland on Sunday. While no game is a gimme in Big Ten play, few were expecting a team coming off wins over Indiana and Illinois to face plant against Maryland. Yet, it’s exactly what happened to the Buckeyes over the weekend.
The split leaves Ohio State sitting at 18-8 overall and 11-6 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes technically still have a shot at a share of the Big Ten title, but it would take an almost unthinkable series of results to get there, including wins by Nebraska in Madison and Penn State in Champaign. Ohio State would also need to sweep its final three games. All of it’s possible in a vacuum, it’s just hard to see it all happening together in one week.
Either way, Ohio State will hope to finish the regular season strongly with Nebraska at home on Tuesday, Michigan State at home on Thursday, and arch-rival Michigan at home on Sunday. All three games present their own challenges.
#6 - Michigan State Spartans (+1)
The Spartans split the team’s games this week, falling against Iowa on the road on Tuesday and rebounding with a win over Purdue at home on Saturday. The split left Michigan State sitting at 19-9 overall and 10-7 in Big Ten play.
While the loss to Iowa last week derailed Michigan State’s conference title hopes, Michigan State can still secure a top four seed in the Big Ten Tournament this week. However, the team will need a good result with three challenging games on the docket. The Spartans get Michigan on the road on Tuesday, Ohio State on the road on Thursday, and Maryland at home on Sunday. KenPom projects Michigan State as underdogs in the first two. We’ll see if the Spartans can over perform on those expectations.
#7 - Michigan Wolverines (+1)
The Wolverines split the team’s games this week, beating Rutgers at home on Wednesday and falling to Illinois at home on Sunday. The two games took place without head coach Juwan Howard on the sideline, who remains suspended after an altercation with Wisconsin following the team’s game on February 20th. You can read the full writeup on the events here.
The mixed results last week leave Michigan in a precarious spot for the NCAA Tournament entering the final week of the regular season. The team is now 15-12 overall and 9-8 in Big Ten play with three challenging games remaining. Here’s what Michigan has left on the docket, with KenPom’s game odds noted alongside each matchup:
- 3/1 - Michigan State (61%)
- 3/3 - Iowa (48%)
- 3/6 - at Ohio State (33%)
While two of the games are at home, that’s a pretty tricky slate and Michigan almost certainly needs to go 2-1 or better to feel good about its NCAA positioning. And considering the team is just 2-3 over its last five games, that isn’t an encouraging thought. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the days ahead. Should Michigan fail to meet that mark, it’ll enter the Big Ten Tournament with quite a bit of pressure.
#8 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-2)
The Scarlet Knights had a rough week, falling on the road against Michigan on Wednesday and at home against Wisconsin on Saturday. The two losses derailed what had been a remarkable run for Rutgers through February to date.
Rutgers now finds itself sitting at 16-12 overall and 10-8 in Big Ten play with two games remaining this season. Here’s the slate, with KenPom’s game odds noted with each matchup:
- 3/2 - at Indiana (30%)
- 3/6 - Penn State (67%)
Obviously, not an easy stretch, but a sweep isn’t off the table either. Indiana has been struggling and the Penn State game comes at home. Rutgers will almost certainly need to win both games to feel good about its NCAA hopes heading into the Big Ten Tournament. We’ll see if the team can get the job done.
#9 - Indiana Hoosiers (+1)
The Hoosiers largely got back on track this week, going 2-1 against a pretty manageable slate. Indiana fell on the road to Ohio State in overtime on Monday, but rebounded with wins over Maryland Minnesota later in the week. The two wins pushed Indiana to 18-10 overall and 9-9 in Big Ten play and momentarily off the NCAA bubble
Indiana will get two more challenging games this week with Rutgers at home on Wednesday and Purdue on the road on Saturday. The Hoosiers need a split to feel decent about the team’s NCAA chances heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
#10 - Maryland Terrapins (+2)
The Terps had a great week of play, going 2-1 against a pretty challenging slate. Maryland beat Penn State at home on Monday, felling on the road against Indiana on Thursday, and upset Ohio State by 15 points at home on Sunday. The performance left Maryland sitting at 14-15 overall and 6-12 in Big Ten play.
Maryland will hope to continue its positive play this week with Minnesota at home on Wednesday and Michigan State on the road on Sunday. Even a split would be a pretty good result for the Terps.
#11 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-2)
The Nittany Lions split the team’s games last week, falling to Maryland on the road on Monday, beating Northwestern at home, and falling to Nebraska at home on Sunday. The final result was particularly shocking, as the Huskers had struggled significantly heading into the matchup. Penn State now finds itself sitting at 12-14 overall and 7-11 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will hope to close the regular season well this week with Illinois on the road on Thursday and Rutgers on the road on Sunday. Both games look challenging.
#12 - Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
The Wildcats split the team’s games this week, beating Nebraska at home on Tuesday and falling to Penn State on the road on Friday. The mixed results left Northwestern sitting at 13-14 overall and 6-12 in Big Ten play.
Northwestern will close the regular season this week against Iowa on the road on Monday and Minnesota at home on Sunday. The team is hoping for two wins to avoid the dreaded Wednesday matchups of the Big Ten Tournament this year.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers had a relatively positive performance this week. While Nebraska opened the week with losses to Northwestern and Iowa, the team rebounded with a huge road win over Penn State on Sunday. It was the team’s most impressive performance in Big Ten play this season and arguably its best of the entire season. It had to be an encouraging result for fans after the program announced it would be retaining head coach Fred Hoiberg for another season.
Nebraska will hope to continue that positivity into the final week of the regular season with Ohio State on the road on Tuesday and Wisconsin on the road on Sunday. Both games look immensely challenging.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers lost both of the team’s games this week, falling against Wisconsin at home on Wednesday and Indiana at home on Sunday. While both games were competitive, the losses dropped Minnesota to 13-14 overall and 4-14 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota will hope to rebound this week with Maryland on the road on Wednesday and Northwestern on the road on Sunday. The Gophers are projected as underdogs in both matchups.