The Big Ten had a loaded slate of action over the last week and a half, highlighted by some marquee matchups. Of course, it all shook things up. While teams like Indiana and Maryland rose, others like Wisconsin and Ohio State fell.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 13 Power Rankings
#1 - Indiana Hoosiers (+1)
The Hoosiers only went 1-1 in the team’s games this week, but it was a remarkable performance given the level of competition and the circumstances. Indiana lost a competitive game at Maryland on Tuesday and followed it up with a blockbuster upset over Purdue on Saturday. Fans rushed the court after the victory:
The wins not only pushed Indiana to 16-7 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play, but continued what’s been an incredible run for the team since mid-January. Indiana has now won six of its last seven games, including two on the road and games against most of the top teams in the conference. During that time, Indiana has established itself as one of the best in the Big Ten and seems poised to achieve some significant things in March if the group keeps improving.
Unfortunately for Hoosier fans, the team’s early missteps this season are still standing in the way of Indiana’s (now faint) Big Ten title hopes. Even with the win over Purdue on Saturday, Indiana is still three games back in the conference standings with only eight games remaining. That’s not an impossible margin to make up, but is incredibly unlikely, particularly given the play of Purdue to date. Expecting the Boilers to lose three more games is simply unrealistic and would also require Indiana winning in Mackey, which is certainly a tall task. But even if the Big Ten title is probably off the table, the Hoosiers have a great shot at getting a top seed in both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments in March.
Indiana will hope to build off the monster win over Purdue this week with Rutgers at home on Tuesday and Michigan on the road on Saturday. Both present as major challenges.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (-1)
The Boilermakers had mixed results this week, beating Penn State at home on Wednesday and falling on the road against arch-rival Indiana on Saturday. The split left Purdue sitting at 22-2 overall and 11-2 in Big Ten play. The loss to the Hoosiers was Purdue’s first loss since January 2nd, when the team fell at home to Rutgers.
While Saturday’s loss to the Hoosiers was disappointing, Purdue remains in fantastic position heading into the second week of February. The Boilers have a variety of marquee wins, including victories over Duke, Gonzaga, and Marquette, and only two missteps, which both came against quality opponents. Going undefeated in the Big Ten is nearly impossible and Purdue slipped once. There’s no reason to panic over a loss on the road to a team like Indiana. The Boilers will bounce back.
Purdue’s quest for the Big Ten title also remains well on track. TRank still gives the Boilers well over 90 percent odds to earn the title outright and 97.6 percent odds to earn at least a share of the title. Simply put, it’ll take a remarkable collapse to prevent the Boilers from hoisting the title in a few weeks and fans should be thrilled about that. The key is simply taking care of business in the manageable games. And Purdue will get two of those this week with Iowa at home on Thursday and Northwestern on the road on Sunday.
#3 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights scored two solid wins last week, destroying Minnesota at home on Wednesday and beating Michigan State in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The wins pushed Rutgers to 16-7 overall and 8-4 in Big Ten play.
At this point, Rutgers is easily the most viable threat to Purdue’s Big Ten title hopes. It’s unlikely the Scarlet Knights can get there, but the team enters this week just two games out of first and has a manageable closing slate. If Rutgers can find a way to sweep its remaining eight games or even go 7-1, it’ll have a chance to earn the program’s first Big Ten title. Of course, Rutgers will need to play phenomenally down the stretch and get some help from the Boilermakers to get there. Don’t bet your house on this one happening, but the odds aren’t inconceivable, as TRank gives the Scarlet Knights a 7.1 percent shot.
The biggest challenge for Rutgers will be this week, with Indiana on the road on Tuesday and Illinois on the road on Saturday. KenPom has the Scarlet Knights as underdogs in both games. Rutgers needs to split (or sweep) the games to have any chance at winning the Big Ten. The team will have its work cut out to get that done.
#4 - Maryland Terrapins (+2)
The Terps swept the team’s games this week, beating Indiana at home on Tuesday and dominating Minnesota on the road on Saturday. The two wins pushed Maryland to 16-7 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play.
Don’t look now, but Maryland is quietly building momentum down the stretch. The team has now won four in a row and five of its last six games, including wins over Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The Terps have also risen all the way to 23rd on KenPom, which is a clear sign about where the program is trending. If Maryland can maintain that play over the next few weeks, there’s a lot lying on the table, including a top seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
This week, Maryland will get two intriguing games with Michigan State on the road on Tuesday and Penn State at home on Saturday. Both games look winnable.
#5 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+3)
The Hawkeyes had a fantastic week, beating Northwestern at home on Tuesday and Illinois at home on Saturday. The sweep left Iowa sitting at 15-8 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play. Notably, Iowa is 7-2 over its last nine games with a few of those against marquee opponents.
Iowa will now prepare for a really challenging week with Purdue on the road on Thursday and Minnesota on the road on Sunday. It’s hard to see the team beating the Boilermakers, but Iowa’s offense could make things interesting.
#6 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-3)
The Illini split the team’s games this week, beating Nebraska at home on Tuesday and falling on the road against Iowa on Saturday. The mixed results left Illinois sitting at 16-7 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play. The loss to the Hawkeyes was particularly frustrating, as Illinois was in position to win the game for large portions of the second half, but couldn’t close things out.
Through 23 games, Illinois has a good, but not great resume. The Illini are clearly trending toward an NCAA Tournament bid and are good enough to play with most teams. However, Illinois also doesn’t have the consistency to contend at the top level of the Big Ten and seems headed for a quick exit in March. That’s certainly frustrating given the talent and experience on this roster. Illinois seems to be underperforming its roster, at least by a step or two.
The biggest issue for Illinois remains its offense, which is over reliant on Matthew Mayer and Terrence Shannon. Both have massive usage numbers and dominant the ball when on the court. Things have improved (somewhat) with Jayden Epps entering the fold, but relying that much on two guys isn’t a recipe for elite success. Illinois desperately needs someone to emerge alongside them into a star. If so, this team has incredible potential.
Fans will hope that happens this week with Minnesota at home on Tuesday and Rutgers at home on Saturday. These are two of the team’s final four remaining home games, so it presents a major opportunity to build momentum into March.
#7 - Northwestern Wildcats (-2)
The Wildcats went 1-2 in the team’s games last week, falling on the road to Iowa on Tuesday, falling to Michigan at home on Thursday, and beating Wisconsin on the road on Sunday. The win over the Badgers pushed the team to 16-7 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play.
Northwestern continues to trend toward the NCAA Tournament and will get two intriguing games this week with Ohio State on the road on Thursday and Purdue at home on Sunday. The odds don’t favor the Wildcats in either game, but that hasn’t stopped the team so far, so we’ll have to stay tuned and see how it goes.
#8 - Michigan State Spartans (-1)
The Spartans had a rough week, dropping the team’s only game against Rutgers in New York City on Saturday. The loss dropped Michigan State to 14-9 overall and 6-6 in Big Ten play. It was the team’s fifth loss in seven games.
At the moment, Michigan State remains in decent shape for the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans have 14 wins and played a challenging non-con slate. However, the losses are piling up and Michigan State’s advanced numbers are trending down. The team sits at an underwhelming 43rd on KenPom and 45th in the NET ratings. It’s rare to see teams make the cut with numbers like that, so Michigan State needs to make some progress quickly.
That effort will start this week with Maryland at home on Tuesday and Ohio State on the road on Sunday. KenPom expects a split, but the Spartans are favored against the Terps and the Buckeyes are in free fall right now, so two wins seems possible.
#9 - Michigan Wolverines (+3)
The Wolverines had a fantastic week, beating Northwestern on the road on Thursday and arch-rival Ohio State at home on Sunday. The wins left Michigan sitting at 13-10 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play.
Despite Michigan’s recent uptick, the team remains on the outside of the NCAA Tournament picture looking in. The team’s early missteps were simply too significant. However, Michigan is making up ground and seems to be trending up some. The question is whether that will continue over the final weeks of the season. Michigan will get two decent opportunities this week with Nebraska at home on Wednesday and Indiana at home on Saturday. The Wolverines need two wins to feel good about that slate.
#10 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions lost both of the team’s games this week, falling on the road against Purdue on Wednesday and on the road against Nebraska on Sunday. The losses dropped Penn State to 14-9 overall and 5-7 in Big Ten play.
It’s disappointing to write this, but Penn State’s struggles over the last few weeks are quickly derailing what was once a formidable resume. The Nittany Lions appeared to be in decent position as recently as last week, when the team blew out Michigan at home. However, two losses stacked on top of four losses in January did a toll on Penn State’s resume, particularly the loss to a struggling Husker squad on Sunday.
Unfortunately, Penn State now finds itself on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble with just eight games remaining. The team still has a solid shot at making the cut, but there’s little remaining margin for error now. It’s probably going to take at least a 5-3 performance in those games to feel much confidence heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
Penn State will hope to bounce back with Wisconsin at home on Wednesday and Maryland on the road on Saturday. The Nittany Lions absolutely have to split to feel good.
#11 - Wisconsin Badgers (-1)
The Badgers split the team’s games last week, beating Ohio State on the road on Thursday and falling to Northwestern at home on Sunday. The mixed results left Wisconsin sitting at 13-9 overall and 5-7 in Big Ten play.
Wisconsin will get two more intriguing games this week with Penn State on the road on Wednesday and Nebraska on the road on Saturday. KenPom has the Badgers as underdogs in both games.
#12 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers split the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Illinois on Tuesday and beating Penn State at home on Sunday. The mixed results left Nebraska sitting at 11-13 overall and 4-9 in Big Ten play.
We’re still a few weeks away from these discussions, but Nebraska is trending toward a really interesting offseason decision about head coach Fred Hoiberg. While the Huskers’ general measures aren’t encouraging, the team is continuing to show fight and has improved from Hoiberg’s earlier seasons. It’s anyone’s guess if Nebraska opts to stick with Hoiberg or go with someone new.
Nebraska will hope to keep things going with Michigan on the road on Wednesday and Wisconsin at home on Saturday. KenPom has the Huskers favored over the Badgers.
#13 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-2)
The Buckeyes had another horrid week, falling at home to Wisconsin on Thursday and on the road against arch-rival Michigan on Sunday. The losses dropped Ohio State to 11-12 overall and 3-9 in Big Ten play. The team has now lost 9 of its last 10 games, including three at home and four games against opponents ranked lower than the Buckeyes on KenPom. Those are the kind of stats that speak to a program in free fall.
At this point, it’s hard to believe Ohio State is going to get things turned around. Early struggles or a slump are one thing, but the Buckeyes have been a disaster since New Year’s Day. Even if games have been competitive, there’s just no way to excuse a 1-9 performance that includes losses to Minnesota and Wisconsin at home and Nebraska on the road. We’re now through well over half the season and Ohio State is below .500. That’s not exactly great.
Still, there is some hope for Buckeye fans moving forward. Ohio State still has eight regular season opportunities to end its slump and many of them look manageable. In fact, KenPom favors the team in five remaining games, beginning with Northwestern at home on Thursday and Michigan State at home on Sunday this week. Sweep those two and you at least give yourself a shot heading into the final weeks of the season.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (—)
The Gophers lost both of the team’s games last week, falling on the road to Rutgers on Wednesday and at home to Maryland on Saturday. Neither game was competitive. Minnesota will hope to get back on track this week with Illinois on the road on Tuesday and Iowa at home on Sunday.