The Big Ten had a loaded slate of action over the last week and a half, highlighted by some marquee matchups. Of course, it all shook things up. While teams like Indiana and Maryland rose, others like Wisconsin and Ohio State fell.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 11 Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
The Boilermakers had an incredible run over the last two weeks, sweeping all four of the team’s games. Purdue beat Michigan State, Minnesota, and Michigan on the road and knocked off Maryland at home last weekend. The results left Purdue sitting at 20-1 overall and 9-1 in Big Ten play.
The obvious question is now how long Purdue can keep this run going. It seems completely unrealistic to expect the Boilers to roll straight through to March, simply given the strength of the Big Ten and the challenging nature of some of these road environments. However, this was one of the team’s toughest remaining stretches and Purdue passed every test. We probably have to start looking at this team differently at this point, especially considering KenPom now has the Boilermakers favored in every remaining game.
Purdue will get another major challenge this weekend with Michigan State at home on Sunday. If the Boilers can pull off the win, it would give the program its second regular season sweep of the last three seasons over the Spartans.
#2 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (—)
The Scarlet Knights had mixed results since our last Rankings, going 1-1 against Michigan State and Penn State. The team fell on the road against the Spartans, but rebounded with a dominant 20-point win over Penn State. The split left Rutgers sitting at 14-6 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play.
At this point, it’s difficult to understand why Rutgers isn’t getting more love nationally. The Scarlet Knights not only have an impressive overall record, but have been red hot over the last month or so, going 8-2 over the team’s last 10 games, including wins over five top 50 KenPom opponents. Rutgers deserves to be ranked, even if the national voters disagree.
This weekend, Rutgers will get a challenging road game against Iowa on Sunday. A win there and the Scarlet Knights should enter the top 25.
#3 - Indiana Hoosiers (+6)
The Hoosiers had a horrid opening to January, but have gotten back on track over the last two weeks. The team has now won four straight, with the most recent wins coming at Illinois, against Michigan State at home, and on the road against Minnesota. The wins pushed Indiana to 14-6 overall and 5-4 in Big Ten play.
Indiana still has a long way to go to meet its preseason expectations, but there’s little denying things are looking better. Fans will have to see if that continues with a monster home stand against Ohio State on Saturday night.
#4 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
The Illini went 2-1 against its slate since our last set of Rankings, beating Minnesota on the road and Ohio State at home, but falling by 15 points to Indiana at home on the 19th. The results left the team sitting at 14-6 overall and 5-4 in Big Ten play.
Like Rutgers above, Illinois is quietly putting together a really impressive run. The team is 5-1 over its last six games and has largely taken care of a manageable slate, beating weaker teams on the road and knocking off quality opponents at home. It’s resurrected the team’s hopes of getting a quality seed in March and playing into the Big Ten picture.
Illinois will hope to keep things rolling this weekend with Wisconsin on the road on Saturday. It’s a rematch of a game Illinois won earlier this month at home.
#5 - Northwestern Wildcats (—)
The Wildcats swept their games over the last few days, beating Wisconsin at home on Monday and Nebraska on the road on Wednesday. The games followed a brief pause for Northwestern due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the roster. Northwestern now finds itself sitting at 14-5 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play.
Northwestern will hope to add another win to its resume this weekend at home against Minnesota on Saturday. The Wildcats will be significant favorites at tip.
#6 - Michigan State Spartans (-2)
The Spartans split the team’s games since our last Rankings, falling to Purdue at home and Indiana on the road and beating Rutgers and Iowa at home. The mixed results left Michigan State sitting at 14-7 overall and 6-4 in Big Ten play.
Michigan State’s defense has been the primary driver of the team’s recent rise. KenPom has the Spartans up to 33rd nationally in defensive efficiency and it’s easy to see why the team is trending in the right direction there. Unfortunately, even if Michigan State seems to be improving, it still hasn’t been enough to establish the squad as a top-tier unit. Perhaps someone can emerge over the next few weeks to change that.
This weekend, Michigan State will get a massive road test on Sunday on the road against Purdue. Obviously, the Spartans are underdogs in the game.
#7 - Maryland Terrapins (+1)
The Terps went 2-1 against a challenging slate since our last Rankings, beating Michigan and Wisconsin at home, but falling on the road to Purdue last weekend. The mixed results left Maryland sitting at 13-7 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play.
Through 20 games, Maryland finds itself in a tricky position. The Terps are sitting on that fine line between solid and good, where a win here or there could drastically change the trajectory of the team’s season. Maryland has a chance to make this a memorable campaign, it’ll just take some big wins down the stretch to get there.
That effort will begin this weekend at home against Nebraska on Saturday. The Terps will be solid favorites before tip.
#8 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-2)
The Hawkeyes had a rough last few days, falling on the road to Ohio State on Saturday and on the road against Michigan State on Thursday. The losses snapped Iowa’s four-game winning streak and left the team sitting at 12-8 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play. Iowa will hope to rebound at home against a tough Rutgers squad on Sunday. It’s arguably the team’s best (and most realistic) chance at adding a resume win for the remainder of the season.
#9 - Wisconsin Badgers (-2)
The Badgers continued their free fall this week, as the team lost on the road against Northwestern on Monday and on the road against Maryland on Wednesday. Wisconsin has now lost five of its last six games and sits at 12-7 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play.
Wisconsin will now prepare for a massive opportunity at home against Illinois on Saturday. A win there would inject some serious energy into the program after a horrid January.
#10 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)
The Nittany Lions had mixed results over the team’s last three games, going 1-2 during the stretch. Penn State opened things by falling on the road against Wisconsin and rebounded with a win over Nebraska at home, but subsequently fell to Rutgers on the road. The most recent loss left Penn State sitting at 13-7 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will hope to get back on track at home on Sunday against Michigan. The two teams played a competitive game earlier this month.
#11 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes continued their slide over the last week and a half, falling on the road against Nebraska and on the road against Illinois. The team got a reprieve between the losses with a win over Iowa, but still saw its record decline to 11-9 overall and 3-6 in Big Ten play. All told, Ohio State has now lost six of its last seven games dating back to New Year’s Day.
What’s been particularly unusual about Ohio State’s recent decline is how little it’s impacted the team’s statistical profile. Despite only going 2-6 in January and losing to two teams with losing records (Minnesota and Nebraska), Ohio State has only declined nine spots on KenPom. In fact, the Buckeyes remain 20th on the site, which ranks third in the league. The easy explanation is how competitive the games have been, but it’s still bizarre to see.
Ohio State will return to action this weekend on the road against Indiana on Saturday. There’s little denying the matchup looks like an uphill battle, at least on paper. A loss there would really set off the alarm bells, so Buckeye fans will be hoping for an upset.
#12 - Michigan Wolverines (—)
The Wolverines had a disappointing performance since our last Rankings, falling to Maryland on the road and Purdue at home. And while Michigan was able to hold off Minnesota at home last Sunday, the win did little for the team’s long-term hopes. Michigan now sits at 11-8 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play.
At this point, it’s hard to see Michigan resurrecting its season. While all but one of Michigan’s losses this season have been competitive, the team just can’t seem to close out opportunities against quality opponents. And with a horrible loss to Central Michigan still on its resume, Michigan’s going to need to do more than “hold serve” to have any hope of even making the NIT at this point.
Michigan will hope to begin a late push toward the postseason over the weekend on the road against Penn State on Sunday. KenPom favors the Nittany Lions.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers went 1-2 in games since our last Rankings, knocking off Ohio State at home last weekend, but falling to Penn State on the road and Northwestern at home thereafter. The team now finds itself sitting at 10-11 overall and 3-7 in Big Ten play. Nebraska will hope to snap its two-game skid against Maryland on the road on Saturday.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers went 0-4 in the team’s games since our last Rankings, falling at home to Illinois, Purdue, and Indiana and narrowly falling on the road against Michigan. The losses left the team sitting at 7-12 overall and 1-8 in Big Ten play. Minnesota will hope to bounce back this weekend on the road against Northwestern on Saturday.