The Big Ten had an absolutely loaded slate of action last week, highlighted by a number of marquee games and some fantastic rivalry matchups. Fans saw teams like Northwestern and Iowa thrive as teams like Indiana and Penn State struggled.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week Nine Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
The Boilermakers went 2-1 in the team’s games last week, falling to Rutgers at home on Monday night, but rebounding with wins over Ohio State on Thursday and Penn State on Sunday. The win against the Buckeyes came in Columbus and the win over the Nittany Lions came in a great environment at the Palestra. The split left Purdue sitting 15-1 overall, 4-1 in Big Ten play, and tied atop the Big Ten standings.
Obviously, fans were disappointed with the team’s loss against the Scarlet Knights on Monday. The team’s offense was underwhelming early on and they made just enough mistakes down the stretch to prevent a second half comeback effort. However, fans shouldn’t overreact to one loss, especially considering it came by a single point and the team responded with two quality wins. Purdue remains in great shape and is still playing well enough to achieve all of its goals at the end of the season.
Fortunately, the team will get a bit of a reprieve this week with just one game at home against Nebraska on Friday. The Boilermakers will be heavy favorites heading into tip. However, it’s certainly a potential trap game with Michigan State awaiting a few days later. The Huskers also pushed Purdue to overtime the first time the teams met in early December. So, stay tuned.
#2 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)
The Illini split the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Northwestern on Wednesday and rebounding with a win over Wisconsin at home on Saturday. The win over the Badgers snapped Illinois’ three-game skid against quality opponents. The mixed results left Illinois sitting at 10-5 overall and 1-3 in Big Ten play.
Illinois will get a really interesting slate this week with Nebraska on the road on Tuesday and Michigan State at home on Friday. KenPom likes Illinois in both games, but only narrowly, so it’s a huge opportunity for the team to do some work to improve its standing.
#3 - Wisconsin Badgers (-1)
The Badgers had an underwhelming week. Wisconsin opened things up with a win over arch-rival Minnesota on Tuesday, but did so in relatively unimpressive fashion, as Wisconsin only narrowly escaped with the win over a horrendous Gopher squad. The team then followed with a double-digit road loss to Illinois on Saturday. The loss to Illinois dropped the team to 11-3 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play.
Through 14 games, Wisconsin easily has one of the more bizarre resumes you’ll ever see. From a win-loss perspective, the team’s resume is fantastic. The Badgers already have six top 100 wins and none of Wisconsin’s losses are particularly bad, at least from a resume perspective. It’s arguably the best resume of anyone in the Big Ten outside of West Lafayette and it’s pretty easy to see why.
However, despite the success, the computers absolutely hate this Badger squad. KenPom presently has Wisconsin ranked 51st nationally and as the 10th best team in the Big Ten. And it’s only been getting worse in recent weeks, as the team dropped 16 spots in 2023 alone. Add in Tyler Wahl’s recent injury and there are some serious reasons for concern going forward with this squad. A lot of these upcoming games will be tight.
Wisconsin will hope to get back on track this week against Michigan State at home on Tuesday and Indiana on the road on Saturday. Both games look challenging.
#4 - Northwestern Wildcats (+6)
The Wildcats had arguably the best week of anybody on this list, going 2-0 against a really challenging slate. Northwestern knocked off Illinois at home on Wednesday and followed it up with another upset over Indiana on the road on Sunday. The wins left Northwestern sitting at 12-3 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play.
Northwestern will get two more opportunities to build its resume this week with Rutgers at home on Wednesday and Michigan on the road on Sunday. KenPom presently has the Wildcats as modest underdogs in both outings.
#5 - Maryland Terrapins (+2)
The Terps split the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Rutgers on Thursday and rebounding with a win over Ohio State at home on Sunday. The win pushed Maryland to 11-5 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play. It also snapped a five-game losing streak to top 200 KenPom opponents, which dated back to early December.
Maryland will get most of the upcoming week off before returning to action on the road against Iowa on Sunday. The Terps are presently narrow underdogs on KenPom for the matchup. Expect a tight one.
#6 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+3)
The Scarlet Knights had a largely positive week, going 2-1 against a pretty challenging slate. Rutgers opened things up with a monster upset on the road against Purdue on Monday and followed it up with a 14-point win over Maryland at home on Thursday. Unfortunately, the team slipped up after the two wins, falling to Iowa at home on Sunday. The loss dropped Rutgers to 11-5 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play.
Through 16 games, fans have to be feeling great about the Scarlet Knights and rightfully so. Despite some major offseason attrition and some early missteps, Rutgers appears to be hitting its stride as we dive into January, even with the loss to Iowa on Sunday. The team’s defense looks incredible and its depth is improving as well. If the Scarlet Knights can even improve modestly from deep, it could really make this a dynamic team.
Rutgers will return to action this week on the road against Northwestern on Wednesday and at home against Ohio State on Sunday. Both games look like major challenges.
#7 - Indiana Hoosiers (-4)
The Hoosiers had a rough week, dropping both of the team’s games. Indiana began by blowing an extremely winnable game on the road against Iowa on Thursday and followed it up with a home loss to Northwestern on Sunday. The losses dropped Indiana to 10-5 overall and 1-3 in Big Ten play. The team has now lost four of its last six, five of its last eight games, and five straight against opponents ranked 80th or better on KenPom.
At this point, there’s little denying Indiana’s on a slide, and a serious one at that. The team hasn’t done anything notable since November and has watched its lineup get decimated. Indiana has now lost Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson for the foreseeable future and doesn’t have many solutions to their absences. It’s going to be up to the underclassmen to get things turned around here, which isn’t exactly reassuring. It’s going to be a big next few weeks for Mike Woodson and his staff.
This week, Indiana will hope to get back on track with Penn State on the road on Wednesday and Wisconsin at home on Saturday. Both games look challenging.
#8 - Michigan State Spartans (—)
The Spartans had a great week of play, beating Nebraska at home on Tuesday and arch-rival Michigan at home on Saturday. The win over the Wolverines pushed Michigan State to 11-4 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play. It was Michigan State’s sixth straight victory, dating back to a road win over Penn State in early December.
Like a few other teams on this list, Michigan State sits in a bizarre position at this point. While the Spartans have an impressive overall record, some quality wins, and only one bad loss (at Notre Dame), the team is viewed relatively poorly by the advanced numbers, ranking only 43rd on KenPom. It makes for some interesting projections moving forward, as it seems like something has to give in the coming weeks.
Michigan State will hope to build on last week’s success with Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and Illinois on the road on Friday. The Spartans are underdogs in both games.
#9 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-3)
The Buckeyes went 0-2 this week, dropping both of the team’s games in tight contests. Ohio State opened things up by losing to Purdue at home on Thursday and followed it up with another loss on the road against Maryland on Sunday. The losses dropped Ohio State to 10-5 overall and 2-2 in Big Ten play.
Ohio State will get two opportunities to get back on track this week with Minnesota at home on Thursday and Rutgers on the road on Sunday. The first game should absolutely be a win for the Buckeyes, but the second looks pretty challenging. The Scarlet Knights will certainly be hungry for revenge after Ohio State won the first meeting between the teams in early December in controversial fashion.
#10 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-5)
The Nittany Lions lost both of the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Michigan on Wednesday and dropping the followup in Philadelphia on Sunday against Purdue. The losses dropped Penn State to 11-5 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play.
Penn State’s resume generally remains pretty strong. The team has some solid wins and doesn’t have a really bad loss yet. However, Penn State is also flirting with a dangerous status heading into mid-January, where the team needs to win a lot of difficult games in the coming weeks. The schedule is really tricky in the weeks ahead and Micah Shrewsberry and his staff will need to work hard to prevent this two-loss skid from become three, four, or five.
This week, Penn State will return to action against Indiana at home on Wednesday. While it’s far too early to use phrases like “must win”, this one has that feeling for the Nittany Lions.
#11 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+2)
The Hawkeyes had a wonderful week, beating Indiana at home on Thursday and following it up with a road win over Rutgers on Sunday. The wins snapped a horrible three-game skid for Iowa and got some momentum back around the program. Iowa now sits at 10-6 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play.
Iowa will return to action this week with Michigan at home on Thursday and Maryland at home on Sunday. KenPom favors the Hawks in both games. Sweep both and the team’s NCAA hopes start to rise from the grave.
#12 - Michigan Wolverines (—)
The Wolverines had a mixed week, splitting a tricky slate of games. While Michigan knocked off Penn State at home on Wednesday, it fell short on the road against rival Michigan State on Saturday. The loss to the Spartans dropped Michigan to 9-6 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play.
Michigan will hope to rebound this week with Iowa on the road on Thursday and Northwestern at home on Sunday. Fans need to be hoping for a sweep, as Michigan still has considerable ground to make up if it hopes to make the cut on Selection Sunday.
#13 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-2)
The Huskers split the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Michigan State on Tuesday and rebounding with a win over Minnesota on the road on Saturday. The latter game took overtime to be decided. Nebraska now sits at 9-7 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play.
Nebraska will return to action on Tuesday at home against Illinois and will face off against Purdue on the road against Friday. The game against the Illini is projected to be a coin flip.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (—)
The Gophers lost both of the team’s games last week, though the team did play its opponents tougher in the process. Minnesota fell on the road to Wisconsin on Tuesday and followed it with a loss to Nebraska at home in overtime on Saturday. Both games were decided by a bucket. Minnesota now sits at 6-8 overall and 0-4 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota will hope to get its first Big Ten win this week, as the team heads to Columbus to face Ohio State on Thursday. It’s the team’s only outing of the week.