The Big Ten regular season is quickly drawing to a close. And while that reality is certainly disappointing to fans, it does mean things are heating up for the league and fans are getting to see some of the season’s best matchups, including a few fantastic games last week. Highlights included Northwestern’s win over Indiana and Maryland’s dominant effort against Purdue. It all sets up what should be an incredible finish to the season.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 15 Power Rankings
#1 - Indiana Hoosiers (—)
The Hoosiers split the team’s games last week, falling on the road to Northwestern on Wednesday and rebounding with a win at home over Illinois on Saturday. Despite the loss to the Wildcats, Indiana remains in solid position for its overall goals. The Hoosiers are 19-8 overall, 10-6 in Big Ten play, and have won 9 of the team’s last 11 games.
Entering the final two weeks of regular season play, Indiana finds itself two games back in the Big Ten standings. Of course, Hoosier fans have to be wondering what it might take for Indiana to close the two-game gap and grab a share of the Big Ten crown. Unfortunately, it’s going to be incredibly challenging. Here’s the final four-game slate, with KenPom odds noted alongside each game:
- 2/21 - at Michigan State (42%)
- 2/25 - at Purdue (26%)
- 2/28 - Iowa (66%)
- 3/5 - Michigan (73%)
Given that Indiana likely needs to sweep those games to grab a share of the Big Ten title, it’s hard to see it happening. The road game at Purdue alone is an incredible challenge, let alone a road game in the Breslin Center. Still, Indiana has a shot at a tremendous finish and a top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which has to excite fans.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
The Boilermakers also had mixed results this week, falling on the road to Maryland by double-digits on Thursday and rebounding with a dominant win over Ohio State at home on Sunday. The win over the Buckeyes pushed Purdue to 24-4 overall and 13-4 in Big Ten play.
Entering the final two weeks of the regular season, Purdue is sitting in a pretty enviable position. The Boilermakers have an incredible resume and are on the verge of locking up at least a share of the Big Ten title. And while the loss to the Terps was a rough one, it was still Purdue’s first double-digit loss of the season, which is quite a statement considering we’re in the second half of February. Everyone in West Lafayette is thinking big this March.
Notably, Purdue also has a chance to avenge one of its toughest losses of the season this week, with Indiana at home on Saturday night. It’s expected to be an incredible crowd and a chance for incredible celebration, with the Big Ten title potentially hanging in the balance. Buckle up for a big one.
#3 - Northwestern Wildcats (+4)
The Wildcats had another incredible week of play, knocking off a ranked Indiana team at home on Wednesday and blowing out Iowa at home on Sunday. The wins pushed Northwestern to 20-7 overall and 11-5 in Big Ten play. Northwestern has now won five in a row dating back to early February.
At this point, there’s no debating Northwestern is going dancing in March. The Wildcats already have 20 wins and at least five more games remaining on the docket. Add in the multitude of quality wins and it’s not even a discussion. And that has to be welcome news for Wildcat fans, who entered the season wondering whether Chris Collins would survive the season. Now, he’s taking Northwestern to its second ever NCAA Tournament.
The question now is simply where Northwestern will land and if the Wildcats can make a late push toward a conference crown. Northwestern enters the last two weeks of the regular season just one game back from Purdue in the standings, which certainly makes it a reasonable possibility. Here’s what Northwestern still has on the docket, with KenPom odds noted alongside each game:
- 2/23 - at Illinois (33%)
- 2/26 - at Maryland (31%)
- 3/1 - Penn State (65%)
- 3/5 at Rutgers (33%)
Obviously, that’s not an easy slate. Northwestern is an outright underdog in three of the games and already lost to Rutgers at home earlier this season. Thus, splitting those games alone is going to be quite a challenge, let alone winning three or four of them, which is probably what will be needed to grab a share of the Big Ten title. Northwestern will also need help from Purdue, who’s a significant favorite in its three remaining games.
Still, it’s already been a great season for the Wildcats. Anything from here on out is gravy. And this team is more than capable of doing some more damage.
#4 - Maryland Terrapins (—)
The Terps had a bizarre week of ups and downs. Maryland opened things on a high note, knocking off a top five Purdue team at home on Thursday. It was an impressive effort and marked Purdue’s first double-digit loss of the season. It left many Terp fans dreaming about March and the potential of a special finish ahead.
Unfortunately, Maryland followed that win up with a colossal dud, losing on the road to a Husker squad that entered the game with a sub .500 record. Maryland’s offense could get little going in the loss and Jahmir Young underwhelmed with a 92 offensive rating. The loss dropped the Terps to 18-9 overall and 9-7 in Big Ten play.
Maryland enters the final two weeks of the regular season in solid position. The Terps are an easy pick for the NCAA Tournament. The question is simply whether Maryland can bump up a few spots and set itself up for a Big Ten Tournament run. That will begin with Minnesota at home on Wednesday and Northwestern at home on Sunday. KenPom favors the Terps significantly in both games.
#5 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-2)
The Scarlet Knights split the team’s games this week, falling at home to Nebraska on Tuesday and rebounding with a win over Wisconsin on the road on Saturday. The win over the Badgers ended a three-game skid for Rutgers. The team now sits at 17-10 overall and 9-7 in Big Ten play with just four games remaining.
While the recent struggles have ended Rutgers’ conference title hopes, the team is still fighting for top seeding in the Big Ten Tournament and for its resume in March. In short, there’s still a lot on the line for the Scarlet Knights. And with two winnable games on the slate this week, Rutgers is in good position to improve its standing. Rutgers will get Michigan at home on Thursday and Penn State on the road on Sunday. KenPom favors the Scarlet Knights in the first game and has them as narrow underdogs in the second.
#6 - Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)
The Hawkeyes split the team’s games this week. While Iowa beat a reeling Ohio State team at home on Thursday, it not only fell flat on the road against Northwestern on Sunday, but fell by a whopping 20-point margin. The loss to the Wildcats left Iowa sitting at 17-10 overall and 9-7 in Big Ten play.
Iowa will now prepare for a tricky week of action with Wisconsin on the road on Wednesday and Michigan State at home on Saturday. The Hawks are decent picks to win both games, but neither is close to a sure thing. In fact, Iowa lost to both teams in earlier matchups this season. That makes this a pivotal week as both should be coin flips.
#7 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+3)
The Nittany Lions had a great week, knocking off Illinois at home on Tuesday and Minnesota on the road on Saturday. The wins pushed Penn State to 16-11 overall and 7-9 in Big Ten play. Jalen Pickett was particularly impressive in both games, scoring a combined 73 points.
Like a few other teams on this list, Penn State finds itself in the bubble discussion with just two weeks of the regular season remaining. The good news for Nittany Lion fans is the team’s upcoming slate is relatively manageable, with Ohio State on the road on Thursday and Rutgers at home on Sunday. KenPom has the Nittany Lions as minor underdogs in the first game and favored in the second. A sweep seems reasonably possible.
#8 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-2)
The Illini had a rough week, falling on the road against Penn State on Tuesday and on the road against Indiana on Saturday. The loss to the Nittany Lions was particularly disappointing, as Illinois fell by a 93-81 margin. It was Illinois’ second double-digit loss to Penn State this season. The loss against Indiana was far more competitive, but still marked the team’s third loss in four games. Illinois now sits at 17-9 overall and 8-7 in Big Ten play entering the final two weeks of the regular season.
Generally speaking, Illinois remains a really solid group. After all, it’s not easy to go 17-9 against the slate Illinois has faced this season. However, Illinois just can’t seem to take that next step toward greatness and knock off some of the elite competition. It just seems to be a season of “just short” and “almost”, which has to be frustrating for fans. We’ll see if the team can take that step over the next few weeks.
This week, Illinois gets Minnesota at home on Monday, Northwestern at home on Thursday, and Ohio State on the road on Sunday. KenPom has Illinois favored in all three games.
#9 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+3)
The Huskers had a fantastic week of play, knocking off Rutgers on the road on Tuesday and upsetting Maryland at home in overtime on Sunday. The wins gave Nebraska its first three-game winning streak since December. The Huskers improved to 14-14 overall and -10 in Big Ten play with the wins.
While an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament is still likely off the table, Nebraska’s success last week kept the Huskers alive for an NIT bid. And considering the program hasn’t made the postseason since 2019, that would be a huge step for Fred Hoiberg and his staff as they attempt to rebuild things in Lincoln. Finishing with a winning record will be a huge part of that effort, so Nebraska will need a strong finish to get there.
Nebraska only has one game on the docket this week with Minnesota at home on Saturday. The Huskers are solid favorites in the game. A win there would give Nebraska its first four-game winning streak of the season.
#10 - Michigan Wolverines (-1)
The Wolverines split the team’s games this week, falling on the road against Wisconsin on Tuesday and rebounding with a win over Michigan State at home on Saturday. The mixed results left Michigan sitting at 15-12 overall and 9-7 in Big Ten play. The win over the Spartans snapped a two-game skid for Michigan.
While many are still discussing Michigan’s possibility as an at-large NCAA Tournament team, it’s difficult to pretend that’s a realistic discussion, even after the win over the Spartans on Saturday night. The Wolverines are still outside the top 60 in the NET ratings and have an immensely difficult closing slate, including three road games against teams rated higher than Michigan on KenPom. And considering Michigan needs (at least) a split to feel much hope heading into the Big Ten Tournament, that’s not exactly an encouraging thought for Wolverine fans with just two weeks of the regular season remaining.
With all that said, we have seen some unlikely late season Tournament runs before and Michigan has been playing better. In fact, Michigan is up nearly 20 spots on KenPom from its lowest mark in early February. And its upcoming slate this week doesn’t look insanely overwhelming, with Rutgers on the road on Thursday and Wisconsin at home on Sunday. Sweep those two and things could start to fall together.
#11 - Michigan State Spartans (-3)
The Spartans had bigger things going on than basketball last week due to the horrific tragedy on campus. That incident has been covered at length by local and national media. We will refer to that coverage rather than write something less insightful here. Of course, the Michigan State community and persons impacted by the events will remain in everyone’s thoughts and prayers over the coming days and weeks.
On the court, Michigan State’s game against Minnesota was postponed early in the week, but the Spartans did play against their in-state rivals on Saturday night. The game went down to the final minutes with Michigan State coming up just short.
The Spartans are presently scheduled to face Indiana at home on Tuesday and Iowa on the road on Saturday. It is unclear when/if the cancelled game with Minnesota will be played.
#12 - Wisconsin Badgers (-1)
The Badgers split the team’s games this week, beating Michigan at home on Tuesday and falling at home against Rutgers on Saturday. The loss to the Scarlet Knights was particularly disappointing as Wisconsin was in position to win in the closing minutes, but couldn’t close things out. As a result, Wisconsin now sits at 15-11 overall and 7-9 in Big Ten play.
This should be obvious to any fan who’s been following the Badgers closely this season, but Wisconsin enters the final two weeks of the regular season squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. In fact, most projections have the Badgers just outside the field at the time of this article. As such, these final four games are make or break. It’s probably going to take at least a 3-1 performance to feel good about things before Chicago.
Wisconsin will begin its final push toward the postseason with Iowa at home on Wednesday and Michigan on the road on Sunday. KenPom has the Badgers as underdogs in both games.
#13 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)
The Gophers lost the team’s only game of the week, after its Wednesday matchup against Michigan State was cancelled on account of the tragedy in East Lansing. The loss came on Saturday at home to Penn State and dropped Minnesota to 7-17 overall and 1-13 in Big Ten play. Minnesota is now winless since January 12th.
This week, Minnesota is scheduled to face Illinois on the road on Monday, Maryland on the road on Wednesday, and Nebraska on the road on Saturday. It’s difficult to see the Gophers winning any of those three games, but perhaps the team can score an upset win.
#14 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)
The Buckeyes had another rough week, falling on the road against Iowa on Thursday and on the road against Purdue on Sunday. The losses dropped Ohio State to 11-16 overall and 3-13 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes are now just 1-13 in the team’s last 14 games. It’s been one of the roughest runs for the program in the last two decades.
The struggles over the last few months have ended any hopes for a postseason in Columbus, but fans are certainly hoping for a positive finish to the season. And Ohio State will get two intriguing opportunities to do that this week with Penn State at home on Thursday and Illinois at home on Sunday. KenPom gives the Buckeyes decent odds in both games.