The regular season wrapped up this week and what a year it was for the Big Ten and beyond. It was quite a sight to see Big Ten fans return to the stands in droves for the first time since March of 2019. We all have to be thankful for that.
Of course, last week’s action had quite an 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 17 Power Rankings
#1 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)
Illinois had an incredible week, beating Penn State at home on Thursday and following it up with a massive win over a red hot Iowa team on Sunday. The latter win earned Illinois a share of its first Big Ten title since 2005 and a court storming. Here’s a great clip:
Got to watch Illinois clinch a share of the big ten title and storm the court in my last game as part of the orange Krush. Honestly a dream come true pic.twitter.com/819aSXeAS7— Max Claypool (@MadMaxClaypool) March 7, 2022
While Illinois often seems to play down to opponents, the team deserves a ton of respect. Brad Underwood and his staff have gotten a lot out of this roster and Illinois now enters March in an enviable position. The team is the one seed in the Big Ten Tournament and in position for a great seed in the Big Dance as well. We’ll have to wait and see if the team can change the narrative on last year’s failure. That effort begins with a Friday matchup against either Indiana or Michigan. A win there likely sets up a game against Iowa or Rutgers.
#2 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+2)
The Hawkeyes had a largely positive week, going 2-1 against a really challenging slate. Iowa knocked off Northwestern at home and Michigan on the road early in the week before falling on the road against Illinois on Sunday. The loss dropped the team to 22-9 overall and 12-8 in Big Ten play. Still, even with the narrow defeat against Illinois, the team is 8-2 over its last 10 games. It’s hard to complain much about a run like that.
Iowa will now enter the Big Ten Tournament as the five seed. The Hawkeyes will get either Nebraska or Northwestern on Thursday afternoon. A win there sets up a game against Rutgers. Iowa lost its only game against the Scarlet Knights this season.
#3 - Wisconsin Badgers (-2)
The Badgers had a pretty peculiar week, beating Purdue at home on Tuesday to clinch a share of the Big Ten title and nosediving in the team’s second game of the week at home against Nebraska on Sunday. The latter game also involved star guard Johnny Davis going out with injury. Obviously, his absence would have a devastating impact on Wisconsin’s hopes of going deep in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments later this month. Fans will keep their fingers crossed he has a quick recovery.
The split left Wisconsin sitting at 24-6 overall and 15-5 in Big Ten play heading into the Big Ten Tournament. However, despite the team’s impressive record, it’s hard to feel too confident in this group. The Badgers have underwhelming advanced numbers (30th on KenPom), a significantly rougher seeding situation thanks to the Nebraska loss, and health concerns regarding the team’s best player. That’s not a great recipe for March.
Wisconsin will enter this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the two seed. The Badgers will get the winner of Maryland and Michigan State on Friday. A win there likely sets up a rematch with Purdue. The Badgers swept the regular season series.
#4 - Purdue Boilermakers (-2)
The Boilermakers split the team’s games this week, falling on the road against Wisconsin on Tuesday at the buzzer and rebounding with a win over arch-rival Indiana at home on Saturday. The mixed results left Purdue sitting at 25-6 overall and 14-6 in Big Ten play entering the postseason.
Overall, it’s hard to look at Purdue’s resume without some mixed feelings. The Boilermakers put together a great season and are well positioned for the postseason, but it certainly felt like the team was capable of much more. Even a quick look at Purdue’s losses will convey that image. Here are all six losses:
- 12/9 - at Rutgers (70-68)
- 1/3 - Wisconsin (74-69)
- 1/20 - at Indiana (68-65)
- 2/10 - at Michigan (82-58)
- 2/26 - at Michigan State (68-65)
- 3/1 - at Wisconsin (70-67)
Five of the losses came away from home and nearly every game was decided by a late bucket or two. If even one or two of those games fall differently, Purdue’s entering Indy with a trophy and a one seed in the Big Dance on the table. It’s hard not to feel like that’s a huge missed opportunity for the squad.
Purdue will enter this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the three seed. The Boilermakers will face Ohio State, Penn State, or Minnesota on Friday night. A win there likely sets up a matchup against Wisconsin or Michigan State on Saturday.
#5 - Michigan Wolverines (+2)
The Wolverines had a pretty solid final week of the regular season, going 2-1 against what projected as a pretty tricky slate. Michigan blew out Michigan State at home on Tuesday and fell to Iowa at home on Thursday before rebounding with a massive win on the road against arch-rival Ohio State on Sunday.
Even if it wasn’t a perfect week, it’s hard to think Wolverine fans are going to complain about a week where the team beat both of its rivals, including one in blowout fashion and the other on the road. The latter win also came without Hunter Dickinson, who missed the game with illness.
The mixed results leave Michigan sitting at 17-13 overall and 11-9 in Big Ten play heading into the Big Ten Tournament. And while the Wolverines will still have some drama on Selection Sunday, the win over the Buckeyes on Sunday afternoon is probably enough to get Michigan in the field, even if things don’t play out well this week. However, another win or two would remove all doubt and certainly boost the team’s seeding situation.
Michigan will enter this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the eight seed and will face off against Indiana on Thursday afternoon. A win there would push the Wolverines into a game against Illinois on Friday. The Wolverines beat Indiana in the lone meeting between the two this year, but lost both of its matchups against Illinois.
Additionally, it’s also worth mentioning that Michigan’s head coach Juwan Howard will return to the sidelines this week after serving his five-game suspension for his actions in an altercation following the team’s loss to Wisconsin a few weeks ago. We’ll have to wait and see how the team reacts to Howard’s return.
#6 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+2)
The Scarlet Knights had a stellar performance to close the regular season, beating Indiana on the road on Wednesday and following it up with a win against Penn State at home on Sunday. The two wins pushed Rutgers to 18-12 overall and 12-8 in Big Ten play.
Like Michigan above, we can’t say Rutgers is an NCAA lock heading into the Big Ten Tournament. There are simply too many moving parts and too much uncertainty regarding Rutgers’ resume to be overly confident. However, the odds seem to suggest the Scarlet Knights are going to make the cut, even without a win this week. But things are going to be tight, so fans will be hoping for another win or two to remove any pressure.
Rutgers will enter this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the four seed, which means a double-bye until Friday’s game. It’s the program’s highest seed since joining the conference. Rutgers will face Iowa, Nebraska, or Northwestern on Friday. A win there would likely set up a matchup against Illinois on Saturday in the semi-finals.
#7 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-2)
The Buckeyes had a rough final week of the regular season, going 1-2 against what projected as a pretty manageable closing slate. Ohio State opened the week with a stunning home loss to Nebraska on Tuesday and rebounded with a win over a struggling Michigan State on Thursday before falling again to arch-rival Michigan at home on Sunday. The second loss was also particularly disappointing as the Buckeyes went into halftime with a seven-point lead and full control of the game.
Last week’s mixed results leave Ohio State sitting at 19-10 overall and 12-8 in Big Ten play. There’s also little denying the team’s decline over the last few weeks. Ohio State finished the regular season by losing three of the team’s last four games and is just 6-6 over its last 12 games. Those certainly aren’t numbers that give confidence heading into the postseason.
Ohio State will enter this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the six seed. The Buckeyes will face Penn State or Minnesota on Thursday. A win there would push the team into a game against Purdue on Friday. The Buckeyes swept the Nittany Lions and Gophers during the regular season and lost the team’s only game against Purdue in late January.
#8 - Michigan State Spartans (-2)
The Spartans had a pretty rough week, falling on the road to arch-rival Michigan in blowout fashion on Tuesday and losing by double-digits to Ohio State on the road on Thursday before rebounding with a win over a struggling Maryland squad at home on Sunday. The mixed results left Michigan State sitting at 20-11 overall and 11-9 in Big Ten play.
Notably, the win over the Terps made Big Ten history, as Tom Izzo passed Bob Knight for the most all-time Big Ten wins with an incredible 663 victories. It’s an incredible achievement and a sign of how dominant Izzo has been since taking over at Michigan State.
Tom Izzo stands alone. pic.twitter.com/MN015J80uk— Michigan St. on BTN (@MichiganStOnBTN) March 6, 2022
In bizarre fashion, Michigan State will now have to face off against Maryland again as the Spartans is the seven seed and Maryland is the 10 in this year’s Big Ten Tournament. Should the Spartans beat the Terps again, the team would face Wisconsin on Friday evening. Michigan State swept the Terps during the regular season and split with the Badgers.
#9 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+4)
The Huskers had an incredible closing week to the season, winning both of the team’s games this week. Nebraska opened things up by beating Ohio State on the road on Tuesday and followed it up with an even bigger win against Wisconsin on the road on Sunday. Considering it had previously taken 18 games for the Huskers to win two Big Ten games, doing the same in two games this week is a pretty remarkable turnaround.
Nebraska’s hot streak earned it the 13 seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament. The Huskers will now face off against Northwestern on Wednesday. A win there would move Nebraska into a matchup against Iowa on Thursday. The Huskers were swept by both teams during the regular season.
#10 - Indiana Hoosiers (-1)
The Hoosiers had a rough week, dropping both of the team’s games this week. Indiana fell at home to Rutgers on Wednesday and then fell flat against Purdue on the road on Saturday. Both games were narrowly decided and Indiana could have easily won both games, had it just gotten a bit better play and another break or two. Unfortunately for Hoosier fans, neither happened and the team now finds itself in a tricky position heading into the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana almost certainly needs a win or two to make the NCAAs.
Indiana’s hope for a Big Ten Tournament run will begin this week on Thursday against Michigan. A win there would push the Hoosiers into a matchup against Illinois on Friday. Indiana lost its only matchup against Michigan and Illinois this season, so fans will be hoping for different results this time around.
#11 - Maryland Terrapins (-1)
The Terps had a mixed week of play, beating Minnesota at home on Wednesday and falling to Michigan State on the road on Sunday. The split left the team sitting at 15-16 overall and 7-13 in Big Ten play.
Maryland will now enter the Big Ten Tournament as the 10 seed, meaning the Terps will face off against Michigan State for the second straight game on Thursday. A win there would set Maryland up with a game against Wisconsin on Friday. The Terps were swept by the Spartans in the regular season and lost their only game against the Badgers.
#12 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions had a rough week, losing both of the team’s games this week in heartbreaking fashion. Penn State fell to Illinois by five on the road on Thursday and then followed it up by losing to Rutgers by one on Sunday. The two losses dropped Penn State to 12-16 overall and 7-13 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will enter this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the 11 seed. The Nittany Lions will face off against Minnesota on Wednesday. A win there would move Penn State to Friday where the team would meet Ohio State. Penn State split with the Gophers and lost both of its games against the Buckeyes during the regular season.
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
The Wildcats split the team’s games last week, falling on the road to Iowa on Monday and rebounding with a win over Minnesota on Sunday. As a result, Northwestern now sits at 14-15 overall and 7-13 in Big Ten play.
Northwestern will enter this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the 12 seed. The Wildcats will face off against Nebraska on Wednesday. A win there would move Northwestern to Friday where the team would meet Iowa. Northwestern swept Nebraska and lost its only matchup against Iowa during the regular season.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-)
The Gophers lost both of the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Maryland on Wednesday and on the road against Northwestern on Sunday. The two losses dropped Minnesota to 13-16 overall and 4-16 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota’s struggles earned the team the 14 seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament. The Gophers will now face off against Penn State on Wednesday. A win there would move Minnesota into a matchup against Ohio State on Thursday. The Gophers split their games against Penn State and were swept by the Buckeyes during the regular season.