The Big Ten had a loaded week of action, highlighted by a number of ranked teams in action. Of course, all the games shook things up in the standings considerably, as teams like Rutgers and Iowa rose and others like Indiana dropped.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 10 Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
The Boilermakers had a relatively quiet week of play, with only one game at home against an overmatched Nebraska squad on Friday. However, Purdue took care of business in the matchup and cruised to a 73-55 win. The victory propelled the Boilermakers to 16-1 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play. It’s the program’s best start through 17 games in the KenPom era.
Purdue now enters the next few weeks with a major opportunity. The Boilers have three of the team’s trickiest road games this season in the next four games. Take care of business in them and Purdue would move significantly closer to another Big Ten title. Here’s what the stretch looks like, with KenPom odds noted alongside:
- 1/16 - at Michigan State (63%)
- 1/19 - at Minnesota (88%)
- 1/22 - Maryland (81%)
- 1/26 - at Michigan (66%)
- 1/29 - Michigan State (82%)
Odds are Purdue is going to win at least three or four of those games. However, the Boilermakers have a legitimate chance to sweep all five. Doing so would put serious separation between Purdue and Michigan State (presently second in the standings), would mean Purdue avoided its most serious remaining NET bomb (a loss to Minnesota), and take care of a pesky opponent (Michigan) who has bothered the Boilers in recent years. So, buckle up. It’s going to be a big next few weeks.
#2 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+3)
The Scarlet Knights had an outstanding week, beating Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and Ohio State at home on Sunday. The latter game was particularly emotional, as it was the second meeting between the two teams this season after the Buckeyes beat Rutgers in controversial fashion last month. This time around, Rutgers was able to get revenge and grab the win in overtime.
The two wins pushed Rutgers to 13-5 overall and 5-2 in Big Ten play. At this point, Rutgers is not only a legitimate contender for the NCAA Tournament, but for much more, including this year’s Big Ten title. This is a really good team and it only seems to be getting better, as the Scarlet Knights rose a few more spots to 14th nationally on KenPom this week.
Rutgers will hope to keep things going with one game this week, which comes on the road against Michigan State on Thursday. A win there could position the Scarlet Knights for a run at the Big Ten title.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
The Illini swept the team’s games this week, blowing out Nebraska on the road on Tuesday and narrowly holding off Michigan State at home on Friday. The win over the Spartans was particularly impressive, as the team had won seven straight before Illinois pulled off the win. Illinois now sits at 12-5 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play following the sweep.
At this point, it’s still difficult to see Illinois getting back into the Big Ten title race. The team is already two games behind Purdue and only gets one shot against the Boilermakers, which comes on the road in the season finale. However, a top four league finish and bye in the Big Ten Tournament is certainly still on the table, certainly following Illinois’ recent wins.
Illinois will get two winnable games this week with Minnesota on the road on Monday and Indiana at home on Thursday. KenPom favors the Illini in both contests. And with two road games for Purdue this week (discussed above), there’s a chance Illinois finishes this week tied or down just a game in the Big Ten standings. We’ll have to wait and see.
#4 - Michigan State Spartans (+4)
The Spartans had a relatively successful week, beating Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and falling to Illinois on the road on Friday. Prior to the loss to Illinois, Michigan State had amassed a seven-game winning streak dating back to early December. During that run, the team transitioned from a bubble squad to a Big Ten title contender.
Through 17 games, Michigan State now sits at 12-5 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play. The team is now positioned for a monster week with Purdue at home on Monday, Rutgers at home on Thursday, and Indiana on the road on Sunday. A sweep, or even a 2-1 performance, would drastically improve the team’s Big Ten title hopes, as Purdue and Rutgers are the other two teams atop the present standings. Conversely, two or three losses could very well take Michigan State out of the title race. In short, this is a big week.
#5 - Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
The Wildcats had a rough week, losing both of the team’s games. Northwestern fell at home to Rutgers on Wednesday and on the road against Michigan on Sunday. Both games were competitive, but the team couldn’t do enough in the closing minutes to win the game. The losses dropped Northwestern to 12-5 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play.
Northwestern will hope to get back on track this week on the road against Iowa on Wednesday and at home against Wisconsin on Saturday. KenPom projects the Wildcats as underdogs in the first game and favorites in the second.
#6 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+5)
The Hawkeyes had another fantastic week of play, beating Michigan at home on Thursday in overtime and knocking off Maryland at home on Sunday. The two wins pushed Iowa to 12-6 overall and 4-3 in Big Ten play. The team has now won four straight, led by Payton Sandfort’s improved production.
Over the last month, Iowa has rise considerably in the NET rankings. The team now sits 35th nationally, which is good enough to be in the conversation. The Hawkeyes are now up to a 10 seed by Bracket Matrix and fans have to be thrilled with that considering whether things sat in late December.
Iowa will get two more intriguing games on the docket this week as the team hosts Northwestern on Wednesday and travels to face Ohio State on Saturday. The Hawks are favored in the first game and underdogs in the second, so fans should be hoping for at least a split.
#7 - Wisconsin Badgers (-4)
The Badgers had a horrid week, falling at home to Michigan State on Tuesday and getting blown out on the road against Indiana on Saturday. The game against the Hoosiers was particularly disappointing, as Wisconsin only scored 0.71 points per possession. The losses dropped Wisconsin to 11-5 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play.
At this point, it’s fair to say Wisconsin is in free fall. The team has not only lost three straight, but has been playing down to its competition the entire month, as Wisconsin also narrowly avoided an upset loss against a horrible Minnesota team in January as well. The poor play corresponds to a drop from 35th to 66th on KenPom in just a few weeks. Notably, KenPom now projects Wisconsin to finish at just 9-11 in Big Ten play.
There’s still plenty of time for the Badgers to get things turned around and we’ve seen Greg Gard do magic in the past. A potential return for Tyler Wahl would also help things significantly. However, this three-game skid has put many of the team’s goals on life support, particularly Wisconsin’s hope of another Big Ten title. It’s going to take a monster finish for the team to even have a shot at this point.
This week, Wisconsin gets Penn State at home on Tuesday and Northwestern on the road on Saturday. Both games are winnable, but look like toss ups. We’ll see if the Badgers can pull off a sweep or split to start getting back on track.
#8 - Maryland Terrapins (-3)
The Terps lost the team’s only game this week, falling on the road against Iowa on Sunday. The loss dropped the team to 11-6 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play. It’s Maryland’s third loss in four games and its sixth in nine games.
This week, Maryland gets a really interesting slate with Michigan at home on Thursday and Purdue on the road on Sunday. The game against the Wolverines is the second between the two this season. Maryland was absolutely boat raced in the first game, so expect some motivation to change the story this time around.
#9 - Indiana Hoosiers (-2)
The Hoosiers had a mixed week of play, falling on the road against Penn State in Wednesday and rebounding with a blowout win over Wisconsin on Saturday. The split left Indiana sitting at 11-6 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play.
Like a few other teams on this list, Indiana has watched its season goals take considerable hits over the last few weeks. The team’s Big Ten title hopes are quickly fading, to the extent they even exist at all anymore. In fact, TRank now says they’re entirely gone, not even giving Indiana a tenth of a percent chance to grab the title. Even a top four finish in the league now seems unlikely.
Still, beating Wisconsin and getting back on track (even momentarily) was a big step forward for the team. Fans will hope that continues into this week as Indiana gets Illinois on the road on Thursday and Michigan State at home on Sunday. Both games look challenging. We’ll see if the team can at least split.
#10 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes had another rough week, dropping both of the team’s games yet again. Ohio State suffered a shocking loss to Minnesota at home on Thursday and followed it up with a loss to Rutgers on the road on Sunday. The losses dropped Ohio State to 10-7 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play. The team has now lost four straight.
Ohio State will hope to bounce back this week with Nebraska on the road on Wednesday and Iowa at home on Sunday. Both games look winnable, so we’ll have to see if the Buckeyes can take care of business.
#11 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions scored a monster win in the team’s only matchup of the week, beating Indiana by double-digits at home on Wednesday. It was a desperately needed win at the time as Penn State had lost two straight preceding it. The win pushed Penn State to 12-5 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will now prepare for a tricky week of play with Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and Nebraska at home on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are more than capable of sweeping the games, but it won’t be easy. If the team is going to end up making the NCAAs, it probably needs to find a way to come away with two wins.
#12 - Michigan Wolverines (—)
The Wolverines had a mixed week of play. Michigan opened things up by narrowly falling on the road against Iowa on Thursday night, but rebounded with a win over Northwestern on Sunday afternoon. The split left Michigan sitting at 10-7 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play.
Unfortunately, Michigan’s continued inconsistency has kept the team stalled in the statistical models. The Wolverines are 50th on KenPom and an even worse 75th in the NET rankings. If the team wants to defy the critics and make an NCAA push, it’s going to have start finishing games and pulling off a few upsets, and soon. It’s simply reality.
This week, Michigan gets Maryland on the road on Thursday and Minnesota at home on Sunday. The Wolverines are underdogs in the first game and favorites in the second. However, considering how badly Michigan beat Maryland earlier this month, fans have to feel decent about both games. Two wins would go a long way.
#13 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)
The Gophers had a fantastic week of playing, pulling off the team’s biggest win of the season to date, knocking off Ohio State on the road on Thursday. Minnesota improved to 7-8 overall and 1-4 in Big Ten play with the win.
Minnesota will attempt to build off last week’s win with Illinois at home on Monday, Purdue at home on Thursday, and Michigan on the road on Sunday. All three games look challenging, but so did the Ohio State game, so we’ll see if the Gophers can pull off another upset or two this week.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Huskers had a rough week, losing both of the team’s games by double-digits. Nebraska got blown out at home against Illinois on Tuesday and lost by 18 on the road against Purdue on Friday night. The two losses dropped Nebraska to 9-9 overall and 2-5 in Big Ten play.
Any realistic hope of maintaining relevance this season will ride on the team’s games this week, with Ohio State at home on Wednesday and Penn State on the road on Saturday. Nebraska needs to find a way to at least split the two games.