After months of waiting, fans finally got to see college basketball return and it did it with a bang. Every team returned to action and multiple times already. The Big Ten had plenty of action as well, including some marquee matchups. Unfortunately, it was a rough opening week for the conference.
So, with that, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week One Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
There wasn’t much to make out of the opening week for the Boilermakers. The team hosted Samford and Morehead State and utterly dismantled them. The win over the Bulldogs was certainly the more impressive win, but they largely looked the same. Purdue is clearly a great team. The question is just how good, which we’ll have to wait and see.
Purdue only has one game this week, which comes on Monday night at home against Xavier. The Boilermakers should win, but can the Musketeers push them? It could be a statement night for Purdue.
#2 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)
The Illini scored two wins over overmatched opponents to open the season with Eastern Illinois at home on Monday and Oakland at home on Friday. Illinois won both games by double-digits, though Oakland made things relatively interesting.
Illinois will now prepare for a far more interesting week of the season with Marquette at home on Tuesday and Valparaiso at home on Friday. The game against the Golden Eagles projects as a key resume opportunity for Illinois. Grab a win there and the team will start trending in the right direction for March.
#3 - Northwestern Wildcats (+5)
The Wildcats had a solid performance to open the season, beating Binghamton at home on Monday and Dayton at home on Friday. The game against the Flyers was highly competitive, and Ryan Langborg did just enough to get Northwestern the win. It should be a valuable win as the program pushes for another postseason berth.
Northwestern will hope to keep things rolling this week with Western Michigan at home on Tuesday and two games in Uncasville over the weekend, beginning with Rhode Island on Saturday. It should be a nice resume-building opportunity.
#4 - Wisconsin Badgers (+2)
The Badgers split the team’s opening games, beating Arkansas State at home on Monday and falling in a relatively competitive game against a fantastic Tennessee squad on Friday night at home. Wisconsin scored pretty well against what is expected to be a fantastic Volunteer defense, but just couldn’t get enough stops to grab the win.
Wisconsin will hope to get back on track this week with Providence on the road on Tuesday and Robert Morris at home on Friday. The Badgers are expected to be favored against the Friars. It’s a shot at an important resume win as the program works to get back to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
#5 - Michigan Wolverines (+4)
The Wolverines had one of the more encouraging starts among the league, blowing out UNC Asheville and Youngstown State to open the season. The wins were lopsided enough to push Michigan up 11 spots on KenPom in just a week, which isn’t easy to do.
Michigan will now get a chance to prove the early results were real with St. John’s on the road on Monday and a decent Long Beach State squad at home on Friday. KenPom projects the Wolverines as narrow favorites in the first game. It’s a great opportunity for Michigan to start building its resume.
#6 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+4)
The Hawkeyes opened the season with wins over two horrendous opponents at home. Iowa beat North Dakota on Tuesday and Alabama State on Friday. Neither game was competitive or remotely interesting. Iowa will now prepare for its first real week of action with Creighton on the road on Tuesday and Arkansas State at home on Friday. The game against the Bluejays will be an uphill battle.
#7 - Michigan State Spartans (-5)
The Spartans had a horrific opening week to the season. Despite a top five ranking and significant hype, Michigan State fell flat on its face on opening night, falling to James Madison at home in overtime. The Spartans rebounded with a win over Southern Indiana at home on Thursday, but it wasn’t a highly encouraging outing either. The stumble left Michigan State sitting at 1-1 overall through two games.
The natural question will be about whether Michigan State’s early struggles are a sign of things to come, or simply some early season hiccups. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Fans should expect the Spartans to improve in the weeks ahead, especially defensively and on the boards.
However, the team’s three-point shooting has been horrific. Michigan State has only hit 6.5 percent of its shots from deep so far this season, which ranks 351st nationally. Even if it’s a cold streak, that’s impossibly bad and it’s hard to think Michigan State even becomes a lights out three-point team this season. It’s going to be crucial for Tom Izzo and his staff to find a way to improve those numbers.
Michigan State will return to action this week, with three more games. The Spartans get Duke in Chicago on Tuesday, Butler at home on Friday, and Alcorn State at home on Sunday. The team needs to find a way to at least split those marquee matchups.
#8 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes were another team that split its results last week, beating its mid-major opponent and falling short against a tougher opponent. While Ohio State beat Oakland at home on Monday, the team just didn’t have enough to beat a really good Texas A&M squad at home on Friday. The results left the team at 1-1 overall.
In many ways, Ohio State has performed as expected. The Buckeyes are a decent, but flawed squad. While the team’s offense looks dynamic for stretches, its defense leaves plenty to be desired. It cost Ohio State against the Aggies and nearly caused a horrible upset against Oakland in the opener. The Buckeyes need to progress there or it feels like this could be another lost season in March.
Ohio State will get two “buy games” this week with Merrimack at home on Wednesday and Western Michigan at home on Sunday. Expect two wins.
#9 - Maryland Terrapins (-6)
The Terps had a horrid opening week of the season. Maryland beat Mount St. Mary’s at home on Tuesday, but followed it up with embarrassing losses to Davidson on Friday and UAB on Sunday. Maryland was supposed to beat all three teams, yet now finds itself sitting at 1-2 with many fans getting awfully close to hitting the panic button.
Maryland’s biggest concern so far has been the team’s lackluster offense. The team scored less than a point a possession in both games and relied too heavily on a few players to get things going, particularly Jahmir Young. Unfortunately, one of Maryland’s biggest issues last season was its over reliance on Young and that doesn’t seem to have changed.
This week, Maryland will get a major opportunity to get back on track as the team goes on the road to face Villanova on Friday. It projects as a really challenging game, but if the Terps can find a way to pull off the upset, it would make up a lot of ground the team lost last week.
#10 - Indiana Hoosiers (-5)
The Hoosiers had a pretty disappointing opening to the season, narrowly holding off Florida Gulf Coast for a win on Tuesday and doing the same against what’s expected to be a horrid Army team on Sunday. Despite the two wins, Indiana saw itself drop 13 spots on KenPom in just a week of play, not exactly something that will get fans excited.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there’s a simple fix to Indiana’s struggles so far. The team has been lackluster on both sides of the floor. It’s going to be crucial for Mike Woodson to test out some new lineups over the coming weeks, but this feels like a situation where the Hoosiers simply need a bunch of players to get better. Otherwise, things are going to spiral quickly in Bloomington.
Indiana will get two challenging games this week with Wright State at home on Thursday and UConn in New York City on Sunday. It’s imperative the team at least splits those games.
#11 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers scored two nice wins to open the season, beating Lindenwood at home on Monday and Florida A&M at home on Thursday. The wins left Nebraska sitting at 2-0 overall. The blowouts surpassed expectations, pushing Nebraska up modestly in the advanced stats.
Nebraska will get two more “buy games” this week with Rider and Stony Brook at home before traveling to face Oregon State on Saturday in Sioux Falls. Husker fans should be hoping for a clean sweep.
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1)
The Scarlet Knights had an underwhelming first week of play, falling against Princeton on Monday night before rebounding with wins over Boston University and Bryant over the weekend. The split results left Rutgers sitting at 2-1 overall, though neither of the wins will do much for the team’s resume.
While most figured Rutgers would be better defensively than offensively, it’s been particularly dramatic so far. The Scarlet Knights rank 32nd nationally in defensive efficiency, but a pedestrian 150th on the other side of the court. That’s drastically behind Steve Pikiell’s best Rutgers teams. The team is going to need to improve there to have a shot at the NCAAs.
Rutgers will hope to get back on track this week with Georgetown at home on Wednesday and Howard at home on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights are favored in both games.
#13 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (—)
The Gophers grabbed two wins against overmatched opponents last week, besting Bethune Bookman at home on Monday and UTSA at home on Friday. The wins pushed Minnesota to 2-0 overall. Dawson Garcia was the brightest spot for the team and the big man looks like he could be in some All-Big Ten consideration by season’s end.
Minnesota will hope to keep that momentum rolling this week, with Missouri at home on Thursday and USC Upstate at home on Saturday. KenPom projects both as wins, though the game against Tigers figures to be a compete tossup.
#14 - Penn State Nittany Lions (—)
The Nittany Lions scored two wins to open the season, beating Delaware State at home on Monday and Lehigh at home on Friday. The wins pushed Penn State to 2-0 on the year. Kanye Clary and Ace Baldwin were particular bright spots for the team.
Penn State will get two more tune up games this week, with Saint Francis at home on Tuesday and Morehead State at home on Friday. KenPom projects the Nittany Lions as double-digit favorites in both matchups.