The Big Ten had plenty of action this week, highlighted by an upset of Wisconsin and some twists and turns for another top contender. It all led to a serious shakeup in this list.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 11 Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (+1)
The Boilermakers had an incredible week, blowing out arch-rival Indiana on the road on Tuesday and following it up with a win on the road against Iowa on Saturday. Even if the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes are down from recent years, scoring two conference road wins like that in a few days isn’t an easy task. Purdue improved to 17-2 overall and 6-2 in Big Ten play with the wins.
Like Wisconsin, Purdue’s sole focus right now has to be on the Big Ten regular season title. The Boilermakers are now a half game behind the Badgers in the standings, but many of the analytic sites currently favor Purdue to grab the crown. The key (as always) is controlling the “winnable” games and protecting home court.
Purdue will get two of those “winnable” games this week, with Michigan at home on Tuesday and Rutgers on the road on Sunday. KenPom has the Boilermakers as massive favorites in both games.
#2 - Illinois Fighting Illini (+1)
The Illini had a productive week on the court, beating Michigan on the road by double-digits on Thursday and following it up with a win over Rutgers on Sunday. The wins pushed Illinois to 14-4 overall and 5-2 in Big Ten play.
Perhaps the biggest news (again) focused on star guard Terrence Shannon, who returned to action after a recent court victory. As noted in my post last week, we will not be dealing with the specifics of his accuser’s legal claims. It is a complex situation and we don’t have the resources/time here to accurately assess the facts. There are groups far more equipped to address those allegations. However, from a purely on-court perspective, Shannon’s return is massive. He’s the team’s best player and rejoins a roster that has learned to win without him. That’s a dangerous combination.
Illinois will have a great chance to add two more wins this week with rival Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and Indiana at home on Saturday. KenPom favors the Illini by decent margins in both games. If Illinois is getting to get back into this Big Ten title race, both probably need to be wins.
#3 - Wisconsin Badgers (-2)
The Badgers had a mixed week, falling on the road to Penn State on Tuesday, but rebounding with a win over Indiana at home on Friday. The split left Wisconsin sitting at 14-4 overall and 6-1 in Big Ten play. The team is 7-1 over its last eight games and 13-2 over its last 15 games. Impressive marks, particularly given its strength of schedule.
Through nearly half the conference slate, Wisconsin remains alone atop the Big Ten standings and a legitimate threat to win an outright league crown. However, last week’s loss to Penn State was a big hit. It’s one thing to drop a game, but another to drop one to an opponent like the Nittany Lions. That was a game Wisconsin should have won. Letting it slip away is a missed opportunity, especially with Purdue right behind the Badgers in the standings. There’s now even more pressure to close out the upcoming games this week.
Wisconsin will now get two tricky games with arch-rival Minnesota on the road on Tuesday and Michigan State at home on Friday. KenPom favors the Badgers in both games, but neither looks like a sure thing. Two wins would be a huge boost to the team’s conference title hopes.
#4 - Michigan State Spartans (+1)
The Spartans added two nice wins last week, beating Minnesota at home on Thursday and Maryland on the road on Sunday. The wins pushed the team to 12-7 overall and 4-4 in Big Ten play. Michigan State has quietly now won three straight and six straight at home.
The team only has one game this week, but it’s a big one in Madison on Friday. The Spartans are serious underdogs to the Badgers and lost the first meeting between the two teams. However, upsets happen in college hoops and Spartan fans will be hoping for one here.
#5 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)
The Huskers went 1-1 in the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Rutgers on Wednesday, but rebounding with a win over Northwestern at home on Saturday. The mixed results left Nebraska sitting at 14-5 overall and 4-4 in Big Ten play.
Like a few other teams on this list, Nebraska finds itself deep in the NCAA bubble watch through this portion of the season. And that sounds about right. Nebraska has some major wins (Michigan State and Purdue), but more than enough missteps (Minnesota, Iowa, and Rutgers) to prevent the team from moving off the bubble. The team will now get 13-15 games to earn the program a spot in this year’s NCAA Tournament. It should be exciting.
Those efforts will start this week with Ohio State at home on Tuesday and Maryland on the road on Saturday. The Huskers need to find a way to at least split, particularly against these two, since the Buckeyes are also a bubble team and Maryland still has a sliver of life for an at-large bid. Two wins would be massive for the team’s hopes.
#6 - Ohio State Buckeyes (—)
The Buckeyes had a relatively disappointing week. The team went 1-1, but did it against what projected as a manageable slate. Ohio State dropped its first game on the road against a struggling Michigan squad before beating Penn State at home on Saturday. The results left the Buckeyes sitting at 13-5 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play.
Ohio State now prepares to enter the final portion of January in a precarious spot. TRank currently still projects the Buckeyes into the Field of 68, but only barely. And the schedule gets really tricky, with this coming up next — KenPom odds are noted alongside each game:
- 1/23 - at Nebraska (41%)
- 1/27 - at Northwestern (44%)
- 1/30 - Illinois (41%)
- 2/2 - at Iowa (39%)
That would be a tricky four-game slate for any team, let alone a squad like Ohio State that is just 1-3 over its last four games and seems to be trending down, having dropped over 20 spots on KenPom over the last month and a half. Add in the team’s tentative NCAA position and it becomes crucial to win at least two of those four games. Even a 1-3 performance would be a huge blow to the team’s postseason hopes. That makes this a huge upcoming week for the Buckeyes.
#7 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats had a decent week, beating Maryland at home on Wednesday and dropping on the road to Nebraska on Saturday. The split left Northwestern sitting at 13-5 overall and 4-3 in Big Ten play. The team is another that will enter the last eight weeks of the season on the NCAA bubble. TRank currently has the Wildcats as the last team in the field.
Northwestern will hope to capitalize on a huge week of games with Illinois at home on Wednesday and Ohio State at home on Saturday. KenPom projects the team for a split, but with a solid shot in both games. Score two wins and the team’s postseason hopes would improve drastically.
#8 - Iowa Hawkeyes (+2)
The Hawkeyes had a respectable week, splitting against Minnesota and Purdue. Iowa knocked off the Gophers on the road on Monday, but fell against the Boilermakers at home on Saturday. Iowa now sits at 11-7 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play as a result.
Iowa will prepare for two intriguing games this week, with Maryland at home on Wednesday and Michigan on the road on Saturday. KenPom favors the Hawkeyes in both games.
#9 - Maryland Terrapins (-2)
The Terps lost both the team’s games this week, falling on the road to Northwestern on Wednesday and to Michigan State at home on Sunday. The losses dropped Maryland to 11-8 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play. The team is just 2-4 over its last six games.
Unfortunately, last week’s losses derailed what looked like a bounce back from Maryland and will end any reasonable hope for an at-large bid. Realistically speaking, the hill is simply too big for this team to climb. KenPom is now projecting Maryland to finish the regular season at just 16-15, which would be nowhere close to the field in this year’s Big Ten. It’s been a disappointing run. Fans should just hope for a positive finish.
Maryland will return to action on Wednesday on the road against Iowa and then face Nebraska at home on Sunday. Fans should be hoping for at least a split.
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+1)
The Scarlet Knights split the team’s games last week, beating Nebraska at home in overtime on Wednesday before falling to Illinois on the road on Sunday. The results left Rutgers sitting at 10-8 overall and 2-5 in Big Ten play.
Rutgers only gets one game this week, which will come against Purdue at home on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights have been great against the Boilermakers in recent years. Fans will be hoping for another upset.
#11 - Indiana Hoosiers (-2)
The Hoosiers had a horrendous week. Indiana opened things up by getting blowout by Purdue at home on Tuesday and followed it up by face planting against Wisconsin on the road on Friday. Even considering the strength of the opponents, it was a putrid effort where Indiana was never in serious position to win. The losses dropped the Hoosiers to 12-7 overall and 4-4 in Big Ten play. The team has still yet to beat a top 40 KenPom opponent.
Indiana only gets one game this week, which will be on the road against Illinois on Saturday. Obviously, an upset there would be huge for the team’s already disappearing postseason hopes.
#12 - Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)
The Nittany Lions scored a major win this week, knocking off Wisconsin at home on Tuesday. It was Penn State’s second big upset of the season, after beating Ohio State in early December. Unfortunately, the team followed it up by dropping the rematch against the Buckeyes in Columbus on Saturday. Penn State now sits at 9-10 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play as a result.
Penn State only games one game this week, which is on Saturday at home against Minnesota. KenPom has the Nittany Lions favored, though only slightly.
#13 - Michigan Wolverines (+1)
The Wolverines finally snapped their five-game skid this week, by knocking off arch-rival Ohio State at home on Monday. It was a great team effort that fans hoped would roll over into the team’s next game. Unfortunately, it did not, as Michigan fell by double-digits to Illinois at home to drop to 7-11 overall and 2-5 in Big Ten play.
Michigan returns to action on Tuesday on the road against Purdue and will then get Iowa at home on Saturday. KenPom has the Wolverines as underdogs in both games.
#14 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)
The Gophers lost both of the team’s games this week, falling against rival Iowa at home on Monday and on the road against Michigan State on Thursday. The losses dropped Minnesota to 12-6 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play. The Gophers have now lost three straight and fell to 2-4 against top 70 KenPom opponents this season.
Minnesota will hope to get back on track this week against Wisconsin at home on Tuesday and Penn State on the road on Saturday. KenPom has the Gophers as underdogs in both games.