The Big Ten had a fantastic week of action. Fans got treated to some great conference games and a litany of marquee games as well, including key matchups for Illinois, Purdue, and Wisconsin.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week Five Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
The Boilermakers had a wonderful week, sweeping both of the team’s games. The efforts began with a win over a pesky Iowa team at home on Monday and continued on Saturday, with a huge win over Alabama in Toronto. The wins pushed Purdue to 9-1 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
At this point, it’s hard to complain much about Purdue’s performance through 10 games. The team has survived a rigorous slate with only one blemish and is now set to enter January in the middle of the race for a one seed. As long as the Boilers stay healthy, it’s hard to see anyone outperforming the group, at least in the Big Ten.
Purdue only has one game this week, though it’s a huge one on Saturday in Indianapolis against top ranked Arizona. The matchup could very well determine the top seed line in March. We’ll see if the Boilers can get the job done considering how good Arizona looks.
#2 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+1)
The Illini had a generally positive week, despite splitting the team’s games. Illinois opened with a great win in New York City against Florida Atlantic before falling short on the road against Tennessee on Saturday. The split left Illinois sitting at 7-2 overall and rated 15th nationally on KenPom, which is approximately 15 spots higher than a few weeks back.
Illinois gets a quiet slate this week. The team’s only game comes on Sunday at home against Colgate. The Illini are favored significantly on KenPom, though Colgate is probably a notch or two better than most mid-major opponents fans will see, so Illinois will have to show up ready to play to avoid a close game.
#3 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats won the team’s only game this week, blowing out a terrible Detroit Mercy squad at home on Sunday to improve to 7-1 overall. Northwestern will now prepare for a manageable week of in-state games. The team gets Chicago State at home on Wednesday and DePaul on the road on Saturday. Northwestern is favored for both outings.
#4 - Wisconsin Badgers (+1)
The Badgers split the team’s games this week, though it came against a brutal slate. Wisconsin got Michigan State on the road on Tuesday and top-ranked Arizona on the road on Saturday. Wisconsin managed to get by the Spartans, but fell short by double-digits against the Wildcats. The mixed results left Wisconsin sitting at 7-3 overall.
Through 10 games, Badger fans have to be pretty happy about where Wisconsin is sitting. While the team has three losses, two came on the road against elite opponents in Arizona and Tennessee. The Badgers also have a handful of great wins, including the upset over Marquette and the blowout win over Virginia just before Thanksgiving. For perspective, Wisconsin is now projected to finish second in the Big Ten at season’s end, narrowly behind Purdue. That’s not a bad spot to be in heading into late December.
Wisconsin will get a quiet slate this week, with only one game on Thursday at home against Chicago State. It’s expected to be a one-sided affair.
#5 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-3)
The Buckeyes had a disappointing week. The team opened with a win over Miami (Ohio) at home on Wednesday, but followed it up with a dreadful loss on the road against Penn State on Saturday. The loss to Penn State was particularly troubling, considering the Nittany Lions had lost five straight before beating Ohio State. The split left Ohio State sitting at 8-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
Generally speaking, Ohio State remains in decent position. The Buckeyes still have four wins against top 150 opponents and a great win over Alabama on Black Friday. However, it’s hard to feel good about things after the loss to Penn State. It’s going to be a big hit to Ohio State’s resume moving forward. Some of the early wins aren’t aging that well. For example, while Alabama still projects well, the Tide are only 6-3 overall and 2-3 over the last five games.
Like many other teams, Ohio State will only get one game this week, which comes on Saturday in Atlanta against UCLA. KenPom favors the Buckeyes, but only marginally. It’s a chance for the program to prove the Penn State loss was just a misstep.
#6 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+2)
The Huskers had a mixed week, falling on the road to Minnesota on Wednesday and rebounding with a massive win over Michigan State at home on Sunday. The win against the Spartans left the team sitting at 8-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play. It’s the team’s best start under Fred Hoiberg.
Nebraska will get most of this week off before facing Kansas State on the road on Sunday. The Huskers are underdogs, but could be a sleeper to get the job done. A win there would be massive for the team’s postseason hopes.
#7 - Indiana Hoosiers (+2)
The Hoosiers had a mixed week. Indiana opened with a win on the road against Michigan on Tuesday, but followed it up with a blowout loss to Auburn in Atlanta on Saturday. The split left the team sitting at 7-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play.
Generally speaking, Indiana has one of the more interesting profiles nationally. The Hoosiers raw resume (7-2 with five top 200 wins) looks decent, especially when you add in that both losses came against teams in the top 15 on KenPom away from home. However, when you dig into the numbers further, things don’t look great. Indiana presently ranks 77th on KenPom and five of the team’s seven wins have come by 10 points or less, including nail biters against middling Florida Gulf Cost, Army, and Michigan squads. It’s the kind of profile where it feels like the floor could fall out any minute.
Still, until (and if) things actually tailspin, it’s premature to get too down on the squad. As long as the team keeps winning and finds ways to improve, Indiana has a genuine shot at making the Big Dance. Those efforts will begin with a huge game on Saturday at home against Kansas. The Hoosiers are big underdogs, but should have a fantastic environment.
#8 - Michigan State Spartans (-1)
The Spartans also had a rough week, falling to Wisconsin at home on Tuesday and Nebraska on the road on Sunday. The loss to the Huskers dropped the team to 4-5 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play. It’s the program’s worst start through nine games since the 2003-’04 season, when the team started at 4-5 and eventually reached 5-7 before it got rolling into March.
Generally speaking, it’s hard to feel great about where Michigan State is sitting right now. The team remains putrid from deep and while its defense has been respectable, it’s hardly good enough to make up for the deficit from outside the arc. The team is also incredibly reliant on Tyson Walker, who leads the Big Ten in percentage of shots taken while on the floor. Relying that much on one player isn’t a great sign.
The one saving grace for Michigan State so far is that all the team’s missteps have come against decent opponents. The five losses all came against top 75 opponents and three came against top 20 teams. That means Michigan State’s resume is still salvageable, which has to be worth something to fans.
Michigan State will return to action on Saturday in Detroit against Baylor. The Spartans are underdogs, but seem good enough to pull off the upset if they play well.
#9 - Michigan Wolverines (+1)
The Wolverines had mixed results this week, falling to Indiana at home on Tuesday, but bouncing back against Iowa on the road on Sunday. The split left Michigan sitting at 5-5 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
Through 10 games, Michigan is behind where it needs to be to hit its goals. However, the win over Iowa will help things significantly. The Wolverines will try and keep this going at home against Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights had a relatively positive week, as Rutgers fell short against Wake Forest on the road on Wednesday, but rebounded with a massive road win over rival Seton Hall on Saturday. The split left Rutgers sitting at 6-3 overall.
Rutgers is another team in a sticky spot through nine games. The team doesn’t have any “bad” losses, but has still yet to beat a top 50 opponent. The Seton Hall win helps, it’s just not enough to elevate the resume too much. Rutgers really needs to get some momentum going, and soon.
The team will return to action on Saturday at home against LIU. It should be a win.
#11 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-5)
The Hawkeyes had a horrible week, dropping all three of the team’s games. Iowa lost on the road against Purdue on Monday, Iowa State on the road on Thursday, and at home against Michigan on Sunday. The three losses left Iowa sitting at 5-5 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play.
Iowa will hope to snap its losing streak against Florida A&M on Saturday in Des Moines. The Hawkeyes should win, considering the Rattlers are one of the nation’s worst teams.
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (—)
The Terps had a solid week, beating Penn State in the team’s only game at home on Wednesday. The matchup ended up going into overtime, but Maryland had just enough to escape with the win. The team is now 5-4 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
Maryland enters the final weeks of 2023 in an interesting spot. The team’s season isn’t dead yet, but the Terps are going to face an uphill battle to reach their goals. For example, TRank gives Maryland just a 1.5 percent chance to make the Tourney. And while that isn’t dispositive, it’s certainly not an encouraging projection. Time is running out quickly for the Terps and it’s vital for the team to start winning.
The team will return to action this week at home against Alcorn State on Tuesday. This should be a win.
#13 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (—)
The Gophers had a great week, beating Nebraska at home on Wednesday and Florida Gulf Coast at home on Saturday. The wins pushed the team to 7-3 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play. The win over the Huskers was Minnesota’s first win over a top 200 opponent.
Minnesota will return to action on Tuesday at home against IUPUI. It should be a win for the Gophers and push the team to its first three-game winning streak on the year.
#14 - Penn State Nittany Lions (—)
The Nittany Lions had a pretty positive week. While the team dropped an overtime game on the road against Maryland on Wednesday, it followed it up with a massive win over Ohio State on Saturday. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak and left Penn State sitting at 5-5 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will hope to build off its win over Ohio State this week with a matchup against Georgia Tech in New York on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are modest favorites. Grabbing a win could really help the team build momentum heading into the new year.