The Big Ten wrapped up its regular season over the weekend and what a season it was. Fans got to enjoy a plethora of great matchups, some wild upsets, and the rise of teams like Indiana and Purdue over the last month. It was a truly special season.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 17 Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (+2)
The Boilermakers swept the team’s final games of the season, beating Wisconsin on the road on Thursday and knocking off Illinois at home on Sunday. The win over the Badgers gave Purdue an outright Big Ten title and the win over the Illini very well might have locked up a No. 1 seed for the Boilermakers in the Big Dance. We’ll have to see how it all shakes out.
Purdue will enter this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the bracket’s top seed. The Boilers will open with either Michigan or Rutgers on Friday afternoon. Expect a hard fought game against either opponent. The Scarlet Knights knocked off Purdue in Mackey in January and the Wolverines pushed Purdue in the closing minutes as well. A win there and Purdue would likely be looking at either Michigan State or Iowa.
#2 - Indiana Hoosiers (-1)
The Hoosiers split the team’s games last week, falling at home to Iowa in surprising fashion on Tuesday, but bouncing back with a win over Michigan on Sunday. The win over the Wolverines left Indiana sitting at 21-10 overall and 12-8 in Big Ten play.
Generally speaking, Indiana remains in solid position heading into the postseason. The Hoosiers haven’t been perfect, but find themselves as the three seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament and a safe bet for a quality seed in the Big Dance. Indiana also seems to have a favorable slate this week, with many of the teams on its side of the bracket struggling. That could set the Hoosiers up for a deep run this week.
Indiana will open things up on Friday against Maryland, Minnesota, or Nebraska. The Hoosiers lost their only matchup against the Terps this season, but swept the Gophers and Huskers. A win there and Indiana would face Northwestern, Illinois, or Penn State on Saturday.
#3 - Northwestern Wildcats (+2)
The Wildcats split the team’s games last week, falling at home to Penn State in overtime on Wednesday and beating Rutgers on the road on Sunday. The win over the Scarlet Knights pushed Northwestern to 21-10 overall and 12-8 in Big Ten play. It also snapped a three-game skid for the Wildcats, which is great news for Northwestern with the postseason approaching.
While unexpected, Northwestern’s win over Rutgers and some craziness elsewhere in the league left the Wildcats sitting as the two seed heading into this week’s Big Ten Tournament. Northwestern will now get a double-bye and will open up things against either Illinois or Penn State on Friday. A win there and Northwestern would likely face Indiana or Maryland. It’s about as favorable a route as fans could have hoped for.
#4 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+1)
The Hawkeyes split the team’s games last week, blowing out Indiana on the road on Tuesday and falling to Nebraska at home on Sunday. The loss to the Huskers left Iowa sitting at 19-12 overall and 11-9 in Big Ten play. Despite a solid performance in January and February, Iowa finds itself entering the postseason with mixed momentum, as the team went 2-3 over its last five games and just 4-4 over its last eight games.
Iowa will enter this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the five seed and will open up things on Thursday afternoon against either Wisconsin or Ohio State. It’s a relatively unfavorable position, as both potential opponents are deceptively good for their seeding. The Buckeyes are just outside the top 50 on KenPom and Wisconsin is an NCAA bubble squad. That’s significantly better than what you usually see out of the Wednesday slate of the Big Ten Tournament. Should Iowa take care of business, it will get Michigan State on Friday.
#5 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+2)
The Nittany Lions had a fantastic final week of the regular season, knocking off Northwestern on the road in overtime on Wednesday and adding a win over Maryland at home on Sunday. The win over the Terps came narrowly, but very well could have been enough to push Penn State into the NCAA Tournament. Penn State now sits at 19-12 overall and 10-10 in Big Ten play.
As noted above, the win over Maryland was probably enough to push Penn State on the right side of the NCAA bubble. TRank now gives the team a 52.3 percent chance to make the field and most bracketologists have Penn State on the right side of things heading into the Big Ten Tournament. However, things are far from comfortable, meaning another win or two would still be huge for the team’s postseason hopes.
Penn State will open up things this week against Illinois on Thursday night. The Nittany Lions swept the Illini during the regular season. However, beating anyone three times is a tall task. A win there would push Penn State into a matchup with Northwestern on Friday evening. Even one win would probably get the team into the promised land.
#6 - Maryland Terrapins (-4)
The Terps had a horrible final week of the regular season, falling on the road to Ohio State on Wednesday and blowing a lead to Penn State on the road on Sunday. The 0-2 finish dropped Maryland to 20-11 overall and 11-9 in Big Ten play. It’s arguably the worst stretch for the Terps all season and certainly since early January.
There’s little denying Maryland’s road struggles this season. The Terps went 2-9 on the road and many of those losses weren’t even moral losses either. For example, Maryland was blown off the floor by a middling Michigan team in January and blew winnable opportunities against Nebraska, Ohio State, and Penn State later on. Add in that the only two wins came against horrible Louisville and Minnesota squads and the criticism is hard to deny.
Fortunately, Maryland won’t have to play on the road again this season.
The Terps will open up things in Chicago this week against either Minnesota or Nebraska on Thursday evening. A win there and Maryland would get Indiana on Friday night. The Terps will have decent odds in both games and knocked off Indiana in the only meeting between the teams this season, so fans have to be feeling decent about the team’s chances.
#7 - Michigan State Spartans (+4)
The Spartans had a great final week of the regular season, knocking off a red hot Nebraska squad on the road on Tuesday and beating a resurgent Ohio State at home on Saturday. The wins pushed Michigan State to 19-11 overall and 11-8 in Big Ten play.
Unfortunately, because Michigan State’s game against Minnesota wasn’t rescheduled, the Spartans slipped to
Still, Michigan State enters Chicago as one of the hottest teams in the league. The team has won five of its last seven games and has been playing at a nationally relevant level for roughly a month now. In fact, if you adjust TRank’s statistical measures and just look at games played from February 7th through present, Michigan State ranks 12th nationally in team efficiency. Obviously, that suggests a postseason to remember in East Lansing.
The Spartans will open up play in the Big Ten Tournament on Friday afternoon against Iowa, Ohio State, or Wisconsin. Any of the three will be challenging. A win there and Michigan State will likely face Purdue on Saturday in the semi-finals.
#8 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers split the team’s final games of the regular season, falling to Michigan State at home on Tuesday and rebounding with a road win over rival Iowa on Sunday. The win over the Hawkeyes left Nebraska sitting at 16-15 overall and 9-11 in Big Ten play.
Nebraska now enters the Big Ten Tournament with serious postseason hopes still alive. While the Huskers have no hope of an at-large NCAA bid, the team remains alive and well for an NIT slot. It’s simply going to take at least a win or two to get there. A trip to the NIT would mark Nebraska’s first postseason bid since 2019.
This week, Nebraska will open up things against a struggling Minnesota squad on Wednesday evening. The Huskers are decent favorites in the game. A win there would propel the team into a matchup with Maryland. The teams split the regular season series, so there’s no telling what could happen in such a matchup on Thursday night.
#9 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+1)
The Illini split the team’s games this week, but still had a pretty solid performance. Illinois beat a hot Michigan team in double overtime at home on Thursday and took Purdue to the final minutes before falling short on Sunday. The mixed results left Illinois sitting at 20-11 overall and 11-9 in Big Ten play.
Generally speaking, it’s hard to have any strong takes on this year’s Illini squad. On the one hand, Illinois is clearly an NCAA team and more than capable of knocking off some solid teams. Even in the last few weeks, Illinois knocked off red hot Northwestern and Michigan squads. They’re wins that won’t get a ton of attention, but took a lot of work.
With that said, Illinois also enters the Big Ten Tournament having gone 4-5 over its last 11 games and 1-2 in its last three games. Illinois may be good enough to knock off some teams, but probably not anyone elite. And that suggests a short March. We’ll have to wait and see what happens as Illinois opens up against Penn State on Thursday. A win and Illinois would rematch with rival Northwestern on Friday.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-4)
The Scarlet Knights had a rough performance last week, falling on the road to Minnesota on Thursday and at home against Northwestern on Sunday. The two losses dropped Rutgers to 18-13 overall and 10-10 in Big Ten play.
At this point, it’s fair to panic about Rutgers. The team is clearly in a free fall and it’s hard to tell where it will stop. The Scarlet Knights have lost three of the team’s last four games and are just 2-6 since early February. Add in a nearly 30 spot drop on KenPom from Rutgers’ peak earlier this season and it’s easy to see why so many are down about this squad right now. It’s simply not the same group that dominated in in January.
The good news for Scarlet Knight fans is there’s still time to get things turned around, starting with the team’s matchup against Michigan on Thursday afternoon. The game projects as a tossup heading into tip. Win there and another opportunity against the Boilermakers awaits. Two wins would guarantee Rutgers an NCAA bid.
#11 - Michigan Wolverines (-3)
The Wolverines had a gut wrenching week, falling on the road to Illinois in double overtime on Thursday and dropping another tight game on the road against Indiana in overtime on Sunday afternoon. The losses dropped Michigan to 17-14 overall and 11-9 in Big Ten play.
At this point, the odds of Michigan making an NCAA Tournament appearance aren’t great. Most expects not only have the Wolverines out of the field, but some barely have them even getting consideration any longer. TRank gives Michigan just 6.3 percent odds to make the field at the time of this piece, meaning Michigan has serious work to do this week to even having a chance to hear its name called on Selection Sunday.
Simply put, it’s not a pretty picture.
Perhaps the lone saving grace is a Big Ten Tournament path that isn’t overwhelming on its face. Michigan opens with Rutgers on Thursday afternoon, who the Wolverines just beat on the road in late February. Then, if Michigan manages to best the Scarlet Knights, the team would get Purdue on Friday. And while the Boilermakers are clearly a better team than the Wolverines, that hasn’t been as obvious lately. In fact, over the last month or so of the season, Michigan ranks 11 spots higher on TRank than Purdue. Even if it’s just one measure, it has to give Wolverine fans some reason for hope.
#12 - Wisconsin Badgers (—)
The Badgers split the team’s games last week, falling against Purdue at home on Thursday, but rebounding with a win at Minnesota on Sunday. The mixed results left Wisconsin sitting at 17-13 overall and 9-11 in Big Ten play.
Like a few others on this list, Wisconsin enters the Big Ten Tournament firmly on the NCAA bubble, needing a win or two to firm things up. The Badgers will open things up against Ohio State on Wednesday evening. A win there and a matchup with Iowa awaits. Wisconsin figures to be an underdog in both games.
Of any of the bubble teams, Wisconsin has the trickiest slate. To start, the matchup with Ohio State figures to be a “no win” situation. While the Buckeyes are favored against Wisconsin heading into tip, Ohio State’s resume is significantly underwhelming, meaning an “upset” over the Buckeyes would boost Wisconsin’s resume little, if at all. A loss would also be devastating. In short, Wisconsin probably needs to win a game to even get to the point where it can start building its resume. Then, Wisconsin would get a really dangerous Iowa team that will be out for revenge. That’s a tall task and the Badgers will have their work cut out.
#13 - Ohio State Buckeyes (—)
The Buckeyes scored a huge win early in the week over Maryland at home on Wednesday. It was Ohio State’s second straight win after a disastrous February and had many Buckeye fans hoping for a strong close to the regular season. Unfortunately, that didn’t hold as Ohio State followed it with a loss on the road to Michigan State on Saturday. The loss dropped the Buckeyes to 13-18 overall and 5-15 in Big Ten play.
Ohio State will now enter the Big Ten Tournament as the 13 seed. That means the Buckeyes will open things up on Wednesday against Wisconsin. The odds favor Ohio State in the matchup, but only narrowly. With a win, Ohio State would move on to face Iowa on Thursday. Ohio State needs to run the table to keep its season going.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers had a relatively good final week of the regular season, at least based on the team’s expectations. Minnesota knocked off Rutgers at home on Thursday and narrowly fell against arch-rival Wisconsin on Sunday at home. The split left Minnesota sitting at 8-21 overall and 2-17 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota now gets the unfortunate task of entering this week’s Big Ten Tournament as the lowest seeded team. The Gophers will open up things on Wednesday night against a relatively hot Nebraska squad. Should Minnesota pull off the upset, it will face Maryland on Thursday night. Minnesota needs to run the table to keep its season going.