The Big Ten had another exciting week of action, highlighted by the opening of conference play over the weekend. Fans got to enjoy a litany of great games and two marquee upsets for Northwestern and Wisconsin.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week Four Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
The Boilermakers had a disappointing week of play. Purdue opened with a win over Texas Southern on Tuesday, but followed it up with the team’s first loss on the road against Northwestern on Friday. The game against the Wildcats was highly competitive with the Boilers falling just short. The mixed results left Purdue sitting at 7-1 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play.
While Zach Edey remains other worldly, Purdue needs to figure out some things on the defensive end, especially in the backcourt. The Boilers allowed Boo Buie to gut them on Friday for 31 points and a 137 offensive rating. Braden Smith and Lance Jones need to take some steps forward. Otherwise, Purdue’s not going to reach its biggest goals.
Purdue will get two more intriguing games this week with Iowa at home on Monday and Alabama in Toronto on Saturday. KenPom has the Boilermakers favored in both games, but they will have to do some work to walk away unscathed.
#2 - Ohio State Buckeyes (—)
The Buckeyes had another solid week of play, besting Central Michigan and Minnesota at home. Both wins came by double-digits and pushed Ohio State to 7-1 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play. The team has now won six straight dating back to the misstep against Texas A&M in the first week of the season.
Ohio State will hope to grab two more wins this week with Miami (OH) at home on Wednesday and Penn State on the road on Saturday. Both project as easy wins. If the Buckeyes can take care of business there, it could set up a massive game with UCLA just before Christmas.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (—)
The Illini had a solid week, winning the team’s only game on the road against Rutgers on Saturday. The win pushed Illinois to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play. The team has likewise now won four straight, though most of the games have come against weak competition.
Illinois will get some marquee opportunities this week. The team faces Florida Atlantic in New York on Tuesday and Tennessee on the road on Saturday. KenPom has the Illini as underdogs in both games, so even a split would be great news.
#4 - Northwestern Wildcats (—)
The Wildcats had an incredible week, beating Northern Illinois at home on Monday and following it up with an upset against top ranked Purdue on Friday. The win over the Boilermakers was hard fought and resulted in a court storming. Boo Buie led the way with 31 points, nine assists, and four rebounds. It was Northwestern’s second straight season with an upset over Purdue.
Through seven games, Wildcat fans have to be thrilled with what Northwestern has accomplished. While the team fell short against Mississippi State, it’s 6-1 overall, 1-0 in Big Ten play, and well on its way toward an NCAA Tournament berth at the moment. Even KenPom is now projecting Northwestern to win at least 20 games, which would be more than enough to make the field. That has to leave fans excited.
This week, Northwestern will look to keep things rolling in its only game at home against Detroit Mercy on Sunday. The Wildcats are significant favorites.
#5 - Wisconsin Badgers (+1)
The Badgers had another great week of play, beating Western Illinois at home on Monday and backing it up with a massive upset of Marquette at home on Saturday. It was an incredible environment and included fans rushing the court. The wins pushed Wisconsin to 6-2 overall as the team now prepares to enter Big Ten play.
In many ways, Wisconsin has already proven its worth. The Badgers already have two marquee wins and another top 100 win over SMU as well. The only left to determine is whether Wisconsin is simply good or can be great. Fans will get a quick answer to that this week with Michigan State on the road on Tuesday and Arizona on the road on Saturday. The Badgers are underdogs in both games. Even a split would be huge for the team.
#6 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)
The Hawkeyes had a respectable week, winning the team’s only game of the week at home on Wednesday against North Florida. The win pushed Iowa to 5-2 overall, with the only two losses coming away from home against tough competition.
Iowa will return to action this week with three really challenging games. The Hawkeyes get Purdue on the road on Monday, Iowa State on the road on Thursday, and Michigan at home on Sunday. KenPom expects the team to go 1-2, so if the team can pull of an upset or two, there’s a lot of ground to make up.
#7 - Michigan State Spartans (—)
The Spartans won the team’s only game last week, beating Georgia Southern at home on Tuesday. The matchup was completely uncompetitive and Michigan State cruised to a 31-point win. As a result, the team now sits at 4-3 overall.
Michigan State will now prepare for a challenging week, with Wisconsin at home on Tuesday and Nebraska on the road on Sunday. There were moments this offseason when those two matchups didn’t look all that difficult. However, both the Badgers and Huskers have been rolling the last week or two. Winning both would be a major statement about the team’s improvement.
#8 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (—)
The Huskers fell short in the team’s only game this season on Sunday against Creighton at home. Nebraska entered the game at 7-0 and was hoping to pull off the upset. Unfortunately, the team was completely handled and fell by a final score of 89-60. The Blue Jays simply overwhelmed Nebraska’s defense and scored 1.24 points per possession.
Despite the loss, Nebraska remains in decent position at 7-1 overall. Fans will just hope Sunday was a bad outing against a really good Creighton team. The Huskers will return to action on the road against Minnesota on Wednesday and will then face Michigan State at home on Sunday. Fans should be hoping at least for a split.
#9 - Indiana Hoosiers (+3)
The Hoosiers had a fantastic week, winning the team’s only outing at home against Maryland on Friday. It was likely Indiana’s best win of the season and pushed the team to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play. The win also reversed Indiana’s slide on KenPom, getting the team back up to 68th nationally after sliding to 80th.
Indiana gets a pretty challenging set of games this week with Michigan on the road on Tuesday and Auburn in Atlanta on Saturday. The Hoosiers are solid underdogs in the games, at least according to KenPom. However, Michigan has been vulnerable, so fans should at least be hoping for a split.
#10 - Michigan Wolverines (-1)
The Wolverines had another tough week, dropping the team’s only game on the road against Oregon on Saturday. While the game was competitive, Michigan made too many mistakes down the stretch to grab the win. In particular, 16 turnovers and a handful of missed free throws cost the team the game.
The loss dropped Michigan to 4-4 overall. The Wolverines will return home and face Indiana at home on Tuesday and Iowa on the road on Sunday. KenPom projects the team to split the games, but Michigan might need to sweep to feel great about its position.
#11 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1)
The Scarlet Knights had a disappointing week. Rutgers opened with a win over Saint Peter’s at home on Monday, but followed it with a double-digit loss to Illinois at home on Saturday. The split left Rutgers sitting at 5-2 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play. The loss kept the Scarlet Knights winless against top 175 opponents on KenPom so far this season.
Rutgers will return to action this week on the road against Wake Forest on Wednesday and on the road against Seton Hall on Saturday. KenPom projects the Scarlet Knights as underdogs in both games.
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (-1)
The Terps had a rough week. Maryland opened things up with a win over Rider at home on Tuesday. However, the team followed that up with a double-digit loss on the road against Indiana. It was a thoroughly disappointing effort and left the Terps sitting at 4-4 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play.
At this point, it’s fair to hit the panic button on the Terps. While the team is technically .500 on the season, all four wins have come against teams ranked 226th or lower on KenPom and the Terps have looked downright bad in their other four outings. The team’s KenPom rating has also collapsed, dropping from 23rd to 70th in just a few weeks. Unless Maryland experiences a massive turnaround in the next week or two, it’s going to be a long season.
This week, the Terps only have one game, which comes at home against Penn State on Wednesday. It’s a game Maryland should win. However, expect it to be competitive given how the team is playing right now.
#13 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (—)
The Gophers had a pretty disappointing week. Minnesota opened with a win over a terrible New Orleans team on Thursday, but followed it up with a loss on the road against Ohio State on Sunday. The loss against the Buckeyes dropped Minnesota to 5-3 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play.
While we’re only in early December, it’s probably time to start raising some questions about the Gophers and the program’s direction. Through eight games, Minnesota is not only winless against teams rated above 284th on KenPom, but the team’s advanced numbers have also regressed, fading to 116th on KenPom. Barring a significant turnaround, it’s starting to look like another lost season. And given Ben Johnson is 27-42 (.391) overall through two and half years of action, it’s likely the program will be looking for a new coach next spring if things don’t turn around.
The Gophers will hope to resurrect the team’s seasons beginning with the two games this week. Minnesota gets Nebraska at home on Wednesday and Florida Gulf Coast at home on Saturday. The team desperately needs a sweep.
#14 - Penn State Nittany Lions (—)
The Nittany Lions had another horrific week, dropping the team’s only game on Saturday at home against Bucknell. Considering the Bison are one of the worst teams in the country (314th on KenPom), it’s hard to put into context how bad this loss will be for Penn State’s resume moving forward. It was a devastating result that the Nittany Lions almost certainly won’t be able to overcome.
Fans will hope Penn State can get back in the win column this week on the road against Maryland on Wednesday and at home against Ohio State on Saturday. Even a split seems like a lofty goal at this point.