The Big Ten had plenty of action last week. Conference play continued roaring and fans got to enjoy a litany of exciting matchups, highlighted by a huge upset for Nebraska over Purdue early in the week. Teams like Maryland and Michigan State also showed some encouraging signs.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 10 Power Rankings
#1 - Wisconsin Badgers (+2)
The Badgers had another fantastic week, beating Ohio State on the road on Wednesday and Northwestern at home on Saturday. The two wins pushed Wisconsin to 13-3 overall and 5-0 in Big Ten play. Wisconsin has now won six straight and 12 of the team’s last 13 games.
While Wisconsin had a manageable opening to Big Ten play, it’s hard to complain about the results so far. The Badgers are a perfect 5-0 and four of the five wins have come by double-digits, including the road wins at Michigan State and Ohio State. By every measure, this looks like a top 10 squad that’s good enough for a great seed in March. The team’s much more than just a threat to win the conference title — it’s probably the favorite.
Wisconsin will hope to add two more wins this week against Penn State on the road on Tuesday and Indiana at home on Friday. KenPom has the Badgers as big favorites in both games.
#2 - Purdue Boilermakers (-1)
The Boilermakers split the team’s games last week, falling on the road to Nebraska on Tuesday and rebounding with a win over Penn State at home on Saturday. The week left Purdue sitting at 15-2 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play.
Despite last week’s loss, Purdue remains in great position for March. The team’s overall resume remains strong and one loss won’t move the needle much. However, these missteps have been costly in the Big Ten race. The Boilermakers are now two full games back from Wisconsin with a litany of challenging games remaining. There’s plenty of time to close the gap, but it’s hard to see the Boilers winning the league at this point without some help from the Badgers and that’s not a great spot to be in this early.
Purdue will get two chances to build its resume further this week with arch-rival Indiana on the road on Tuesday and Iowa on the road on Saturday. KenPom has the Boilermakers as solid favorites in both games, but winning on the road in January isn’t easy. Purdue really needs a sweep to keep pace with the Badgers.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
The Illini split the team’s games last week, beating Michigan State at home on Thursday and falling to Maryland at home on Sunday. The loss to the Terps was particularly rough, as Maryland entered with an underwhelming resume. The week left Illinois sitting at 12-4 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Illinois’ roster, it’s hard to make too many proclamations about this squad. It’s a good team. The question is whether it’s great with Terrence Shannon sidelined. The early returns have been mixed. However, the roster still seems more than good enough to get the team to the NCAA Tournament comfortably.
Illinois will return to action this week on the road against Michigan on Thursday and against Rutgers at home on Sunday. KenPom favors the team in both games.
#4 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers split the team’s games last week, knocking off top ranked Purdue at home on Tuesday but falling to Iowa on the road on Friday. The mixed results left Nebraska sitting at 13-4 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play.
Even with the loss to Iowa, Husker fans have to be feeling pretty good about the team through the first two weeks of January. Nebraska already has three marquee wins (Purdue, MSU, and KSU) and is certainly on the right side of the NCAA bubble right now. For a program with as little history as Nebraska, that’s great news.
The only frustrating part about the last month or so are the missteps against Minnesota and Iowa. Both were winnable road games that Nebraska missed on. In a vacuum, neither loss is terrible. However, those kind of losses add up and if you’ve followed college basketball long enough, you know they’re frequently the games that keep teams out of the Tourney. The “big games” are important, but it’s the manageable ones that decide things. Nebraska needs to start closing on some of these games if it’s going to deliver.
Nebraska will get two intriguing games this week with Rutgers on the road on Wednesday and Northwestern at home on Saturday. KenPom favors the Huskers in both games, but only modestly. It’s a great chance for Nebraska to prove it’s taken the next step.
#5 - Michigan State Spartans (+1)
The Spartans fell on the road against Illinois on Thursday, but rebounded with a blowout win over Rutgers at home on Sunday. Those games left Michigan State sitting at 10-7 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play.
Michigan State will hope to add two more wins this week with Minnesota at home on Thursday and Maryland on the road on Sunday. KenPom has the Spartans favored in both games, but the second is closer to a tossup. It’s a chance for Michigan State to start proving it belongs among the Big Ten’s higher tiers.
#6 - Ohio State Buckeyes (-2)
The Buckeyes lost the team’s only game last week, falling at home to Wisconsin on Wednesday. It was a relatively competitive game, but Ohio State didn’t have quite enough to hang with the Badgers down the stretch. The loss dropped the team to 12-4 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play.
Ohio State’s overall resume remains solid, particularly the non-conference success against teams like Alabama and Santa Clara. However, some of the “shine” for the Buckeyes is wearing off. For example, the wins over UCLA and West Virginia look less significant by the week and the losses to Penn State and Indiana are looking rougher. The team is also quietly just 1-3 against its last four opponents rated 115th or better on KenPom.
Fans will hope the Buckeyes can reverse the team’s recent trend this week with arch-rival Michigan on the road on Monday and Penn State at home on Saturday. KenPom favors Ohio State in both games.
#7 - Maryland Terrapins (+2)
The Terps had a tremendous week of play, beating Michigan at home on Thursday and Illinois on the road on Sunday. The win over the Illini was Maryland’s first win over a top 70 KenPom opponent this season and will provide a massive boost to the team’s resume. Maryland now sits at 11-6 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play.
Generally speaking, Maryland still has an uphill battle to make the NCAAs, even after last week’s wins. However, things aren’t looking quite as hopeless as they did a week or two ago. The key is going to be protecting home court and controlling the winnable games.
Maryland gets Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and Michigan State at home on Sunday. Both of those probably need to be wins if the Terps are hoping to make a serious push toward the NCAA Tournament.
#8 - Northwestern Wildcats (-1)
The Wildcats went 1-1 this week, beating Penn State on the road on Wednesday and falling on the road to Wisconsin on Saturday. The split left Northwestern sitting at 12-4 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play. Despite only going 2-2 in the team’s last four games, Northwestern is 5-0 in its last five games against opponents outside the top 10 on KenPom. Not exactly a bad mark for a squad hoping to make the NCAA Tournament.
Northwestern gets two more intriguing games this week with Maryland at home on Wednesday and Nebraska on the road on Saturday. KenPom expects a split. A sweep could do wonders for Northwestern’s at-large hopes.
#9 - Indiana Hoosiers (-1)
The Hoosiers had mixed results last week, falling to Rutgers on the road on Tuesday but rebounding with a win over Minnesota at home on Friday. The split left Indiana sitting at 12-5 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play.
Indiana gets two huge games this week with Purdue at home on Tuesday and Wisconsin on the road on Friday. If the Hoosiers are going to find a way to get into the Big Dance this season, the team needs to at least split these games, which will be a tall task.
#10 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+1)
The Hawkeyes scored a win in the team’s only game this week, besting rival Nebraska at home on Friday by double-digits. The win pushed Iowa to 10-6 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play. Iowa has now quietly won five of the team’s last six games.
Iowa will get two intriguing games this week, with Minnesota on the road on Monday and Purdue at home on Saturday. KenPom expects the Hawkeyes to go 1-1, but if the team can find a way to go 2-0, it’s entire season outlook changes. It’s up to Fran McCaffery and staff to find a way to get that done.
#11 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1)
The Scarlet Knights went 1-1 in the team’s games this week, beating Indiana at home on Tuesday but falling on the road to Michigan State on Sunday. The team is largely in free fall at this point of the season, having lost three of its last four games and four of its last six. Rutgers has still yet to beat a top 50 opponent on KenPom this season and enters this week at just 9-7 overall and 1-4 in Big Ten play.
Rutgers will hope to get back on track this week against Nebraska at home on Wednesday and Illinois on the road on Sunday. KenPom expects two more losses.
#12 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (—)
The Gophers lost the team’s only game last week on the road against Indiana on Friday. The game was relatively competitive, but Minnesota couldn’t get the job done. The loss dropped the team to 12-4 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play. It snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Gophers.
Minnesota gets two challenging games this week. The Gophers face rival Iowa at home on Monday and Michigan State on the road on Thursday. KenPom has Minnesota as an underdog in both games. The Gophers probably need to split to feel good about the team’s hopes moving forward.
#13 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)
The Nittany Lions lost both the team’s games last week, falling at home to Northwestern on Wednesday and Purdue on the road on Saturday. The losses dropped Penn State to 8-9 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will hope to get back on track this week with Wisconsin at home on Tuesday and Ohio State on the road on Saturday. KenPom projects the Nittany Lions as sizable underdogs in both games.
#14 - Michigan Wolverines (-1)
The Wolverines are in absolute free fall, having lost five straight and eight of the team’s last 10 games. The latest loss came last week on the road against Maryland on Thursday. Once again, Michigan appeared to be in decent position before falling apart in the second half. The loss dropped the team to 6-10 overall and 1-4 in Big Ten play.
Generally speaking, Michigan’s season was already over barring an unprecedented mid-season turnaround, even before the loss to Maryland. However, that one only cemented things even further. The Wolverines are now simply playing for a pride and a decent Big Ten Tournament seed in the hopes of leading a miraculous March run. That effort will continue this week against Ohio State at home on Monday and at home against Illinois on Thursday.