The Big Ten had a busy week, with a variety of non-conference tournaments and plenty of marquee matchups. Some of the biggest included Purdue, Michigan State, and Ohio State. It shook up things in the Power Rankings as well.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week Three Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
The Boilermakers had a tremendous week, sweeping the team’s three games in the 2023 Maui Invitational. It was an incredible performance as all three wins came against top 15 opponents. Purdue beat Gonzaga on Monday, Tennessee on Tuesday, and Marquette on Wednesday. The wins pushed Purdue to 6-0 on the season.
Frankly, it’s hard to overstate what the Boilers accomplished last week. That was an incredibly difficult slate. In fact, it’s on par with what a team might see deep in the NCAA Tournament. Yet Purdue got the job done in all three games, including a double-digit win over Gonzaga on Monday. Those wins are going to be extremely valuable moving forward and will likely put Purdue in position for the No. 1 ranking on Monday and a one seed in March.
Purdue’s backcourt also continues to impress. This was the team’s biggest question mark coming into the season and the Boilers have answered it well, at least so far. Braden Smith and Lance Jones are looking like quality players and Fletcher Loyer is playing like a potential star. The sky’s the limit if those three keep trending up like this.
The team will now prepare for its return home and two more games. Purdue gets Texas Southern at home on Tuesday and Northwestern on the road on Friday to open conference play. KenPom favors the Boilers in both games.
#2 - Ohio State Buckeyes (+6)
The Buckeyes had a tremendous week of play, knocking off Alabama on Friday and a pretty solid Santa Clara team on Saturday. The two wins pushed Ohio State to 5-1 overall. The win over the Crimson Tide was particularly impressive considering Alabama remains a top 10 team on KenPom. It remains Alabama’s lone loss this season.
While the first few games didn’t look great, Buckeye fans have to be feeling great about the team right now. Ohio State’s offense found its footing last week and absolutely erupted against two quality teams. Bruce Thornton is looking like a star and Roddy Gayle is asserting himself as well.
Ohio State will return to action this week at home against Central Michigan on Wednesday and Minnesota on Sunday. The Buckeyes are solid favorites in both games.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
The Illini won the team’s only game this week, besting Western Illinois at home on Friday. The win against the Leathernecks pushed Illinois to 5-1 overall. At this point, the verdict on Illinois remains out. The team lost its only tough game (Marquette) to date, but has looked solid in all its other outings, albeit against weak competition. We’ll learn a lot more this week as Illinois gets Rutgers on the road on Saturday. KenPom favors the Illini.
#4 - Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
The Wildcats only had one game this week, which came on Monday against Mississippi in Connecticut. Northwestern got off to a great start, but just couldn’t hold up against a superior team down the stretch and fell 66-57. The loss dropped the team to 4-1 overall. Frankly, a pretty respectable mark given the slate.
Northwestern will return to action this week against Northern Illinois at home on Monday and what will certainly be top ranked Purdue on Friday night. Obviously, it goes without saying, but if Northwestern can upset the Boilermakers, it would go a long way toward the team’s postseason hopes.
#5 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)
The Hawkeyes split the team’s games last week, falling against Oklahoma on Thanksgiving but rebounding with a win over Seton Hall on Friday. The mixed results left Iowa sitting at 4-2 overall. The win over the Pirates was particularly important as it was Iowa’s first victory over a team in the top 175 on KenPom.
Iowa will return to action this week with North Florida at home on Wednesday. It figures to be the team’s last warm up before Big Ten play begins.
#6 - Wisconsin Badgers (—)
The Badgers had a fantastic week, blowing out Virginia on a neutral court on Monday and besting SMU the next night on the same court. The wins pushed Wisconsin to 4-2 overall and did a lot to make up for the tough losses to Tennessee and Providence early on.
Wisconsin will get another intriguing slate this week with Western Illinois at home on Monday and Marquette at home on Saturday. The game against the Golden Eagles offers a massive resume opportunity for the Badgers. We’ll see if they can pull off the upset.
#7 - Michigan State Spartans (-2)
The Spartans had a rough week, losing the team’s only outing on Thanksgiving in California on a neutral court against Arizona. The game was competitive. Unfortunately, a slow start and a handful of mistakes down the stretch prevented Michigan State from pulling off the upset. As a result, the Spartans now sit at 3-3 overall.
Over the first month of the season, Michigan State has shown improvement. The Spartans are still a poor shooting team, but it’s no longer as horrendous as it was through the first few games. The rotations are also settling in a bit more. Fans will have to hope that continues with more challenging games on the docket soon.
Michigan State only gets one game this week, which will be against Georgia Southern at home on Tuesday. It’s the team’s last remaining warm up before Big Ten play.
#8 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers remained undefeated this week, beating Duquesne at home on Wednesday and Cal State Fullerton on Sunday. The first win was particularly impressive since Duquesne remains in the top 80 on KenPom. Nebraska now sits at 7-0 overall
This week will be a big one as Nebraska prepares to host rival Creighton on Sunday. KenPom favors the Blue Jays, but only narrowly. If the Huskers can pull off the upset, it feels like it could be the start of a special season for the program.
#9 - Michigan Wolverines (-2)
The Wolverines had a pretty disappointing week. Michigan played in the Bahamas and went 1-2 against its slate. Michigan fell to Memphis in a close one on Wednesday, beat Stanford on Thanksgiving night, and fell to Texas Tech by double-digits on Friday. The results left Michigan sitting at 4-3 overall.
Through seven games, it’s hard to feel great about Michigan’s long-term prospects. While the team still seems like it has more potential than last year’s group, many of the same issues are arising and the schedule isn’t going to get much easier. That begins with Oregon on the road on Saturday. The Ducks are solid favorites. Michigan desperately needs to find a way to pull off the upset.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (—)
The Scarlet Knights were off this week after beating Howard on the 18th. The team will return to action this week against Saint Peter’s at home on Monday and Illinois at home on Saturday. KenPom expects Rutgers to split, but fans should be hoping for a sweep as both look winnable.
#11 - Maryland Terrapins (—)
The Terps scored two easy wins this week, beating UMBC at home on Tuesday and South Alabama at home on Saturday. neither game was all that competitive. The wins pushed Maryland to 3-3 overall.
Maryland will return to action this week against Rider at home on Tuesday and Indiana on the road on Friday. The Terps are substantial favorites in the first game and modest underdogs against the Hoosiers. Given the team’s early losses, Maryland probably needs to find a way to sweep the games to feel good about things.
#12 - Indiana Hoosiers (—)
The Hoosiers grabbed two wins last week, knocking off Louisville in New York City on Monday and Harvard in Indianapolis on Sunday. The wins pushed Indiana to 5-1 overall. The team also bumped up slightly on KenPom, now sitting at 75th overall.
Indiana only gets one game this week, which will come at home against Maryland on Friday. KenPom favors the Hoosiers, but only barely. In many ways, it feels like a crucial game for Indiana. Find a way to win and the team can keep building for the heart of conference play. Fall short and it could be a tough couple of weeks with some challenging games ahead.
#13 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)
The Gophers split the team’s games this week, beating Arkansas Pine Bluff at home on Tuesday and falling to San Francisco in California on Sunday. The mixed results left Minnesota sitting at 4-2 overall.
The team will try and get back on track this week with New Orleans at home on Thursday and Ohio State on the road on Sunday. KenPom expects a split.
#14 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions had a rough week, falling against Texas A&M on Thursday, Butler on Friday, and VCU on Sunday. The losses dropped Penn State to 4-3 overall. Through seven games, Penn State has yet to beat a team ranked above 196th on KenPom.
Penn State will return to action on Saturday at home against Bucknell. The Nittany Lions should be solid favorites.