The Big Ten had plenty of action this week, highlighted by a rivalry meeting in Mackey Arena and some drama surrounding Wisconsin.
So, let’s jump into this week’s Power Rankings.
Big Ten Week 14 Power Rankings
#1 - Purdue Boilermakers (—)
The Boilermakers only had one game this week, but scored a 20-point win in it, blowing out arch-rival Indiana at home on Saturday night. The win pushed Purdue to 22-2 overall and 11-2 in Big Ten play. It marked the team’s eighth straight win. Notably, the Boilers have now won 15 of the team’s last 16 games dating back to early December. It’s hard to think of many teams as hot as Purdue right now.
Purdue enters this week with just seven regular season games remaining and all eyes focused on the Big Ten regular season title. After the weekend’s results, the team now finds itself up two full games in the standings. It’s a significant, but not insurmountable margin. The primary goal for the Boilermakers has to be taking care of the “easier” games. As long as Purdue does that, it’s probably going to win the title.
That effort will continue this week with Minnesota at home on Thursday and Ohio State on the road on Sunday. The Boilermakers are big favorites in both games. Anything less than two wins would be a disappointment.
#2 - Michigan State Spartans (+2)
The Spartans split the team’s games last week, falling on the road against Minnesota on Tuesday but rebounding against Illinois at home on Saturday. The win against Illinois kept Michigan State on the right side of the bubble at a vital point in the year.
With last week’s results, Michigan State now finds itself sitting at 15-9 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play. The Spartans still aren’t an NCAA “lock”, but they’re certainly closing in. Even three more wins very well might get the team there. And with a manageable closing slate, it shouldn’t take too long to get there.
The team will hope to add two wins this week with Penn State on the road on Wednesday and arch-rival Michigan on the road on Saturday. The Spartans are solid favorites in both games, at least according to the advanced stats.
#3 - Illinois Fighting Illini (-1)
Illinois lost its only game last week, falling on the road to Michigan State on Saturday. The game was highly competitive and in reach for the team in the second half. Unfortunately for Illinois fans, the Spartans had just a bit too much down the stretch. Illinois now finds itself sitting at 17-6 overall and 8-4 in Big Ten play following the loss.
While it’s disappointing to say, Saturday’s loss was probably the end of Illinois’ pursuit of a Big Ten title. Crazy things could still happen, but the team now finds itself two full games behind Purdue with just a few weeks remaining. Picking up one game would be well within reach, particularly with the Boilermakers coming to Champaign on March 5th. However, trying to pick up two games with the current slates will be quite a challenge. For perspective, KenPom projects Illinois and Purdue to finish four games apart, so both teams would have to drastically depart from expectations for Illinois to grab a share.
Illinois will hope to get back on track this week with Michigan at home on Tuesday and Maryland on the road on Saturday. KenPom favors Illinois in both games, but the game against the Terps is just a tad above a tossup.
#4 - Northwestern Wildcats (+1)
The Wildcats scored two pivotal wins last week, beating Nebraska at home on Wednesday and Penn State at home on Sunday. The wins pushed Northwestern to 17-7 overall, 8-5 in Big Ten play, and right on the brink of locking up an NCAA bid. Even two or three more wins would remove any doubt about the team’s postseason hopes.
Northwestern will get two solid chances to add wins this week with Rutgers on the road on Thursday and Indiana on the road on Sunday. They’re both projected as tossups by KenPom. If the Wildcats can find a way to at least split, it would be huge for the team’s bubble hopes.
#5 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (+1)
The Huskers had mixed results this week, falling on the road to Northwestern on Wednesday, but rebounding with a blowout win over Michigan at home on Saturday. The split left Nebraska sitting at 17-8 overall and 7-7 in Big Ten play.
Like Michigan State and Northwestern above, Nebraska enters this week closing in on an NCAA bid. It’s not there yet, but it’s in sight if the team can take care of business in the coming days. The key is avoiding any upsets, especially at home.
Nebraska gets a few days off this week before returning to action on Saturday at home against Penn State. It’s a game the Huskers should win. However, in the world of college basketball, projections don’t mean much.
#6 - Wisconsin Badgers (-3)
The Badgers had a horrid week, falling on the road to Michigan on Wednesday and Rutgers on the road on Saturday in blowout fashion. The losses dropped Wisconsin to 16-8 overall and 8-5 in Big Ten play. The team entered in serious Big Ten title contention and now finds itself reeling to preserve its NCAA status. Fans are certainly getting some whiplash right now.
The good news is Wisconsin gets a manageable closing slate. Most of the team’s remaining games come at home and two of the road games (Iowa and Indiana) look winnable. If the Badgers can bounce back, the team should be a safe NCAA unit and has a great shot at getting a top four seed for the Big Ten Tournament.
Wisconsin will get two intriguing games this week with Ohio State at home on Tuesday and Iowa on the road on Saturday. KenPom has the Badgers favored in both games.
#7 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+3)
The Scarlet Knights scored two massive wins last week, beating Maryland on the road on Tuesday and blowing out Wisconsin at home on Saturday. The wins pushed Rutgers to 13-10 overall and 5-7 in Big Ten play. The team has now quietly won three straight and four of its last seven games. Both solid marks after a rough December and January.
After last week’s wins, many Rutgers fans are wondering if the team still has a shot at the postseason. The answer is a bit nuanced. From a general perspective, yes — Rutgers still has a shot at the postseason, particularly the NIT. The team already has 13 wins and is currently projected to finish the regular season at 16-15. If Rutgers can even slightly outperform that, it should be right on the edge of a bid.
However, there’s still a tall hill to climb. Rutgers may still have eight games remaining, but four of them are on the road and three of the home games are essentially projected as tossups. The Scarlet Knights can afford no slip ups. We’ll have to wait and see how that starts this week with Northwestern at home on Thursday and Minnesota on the road on Sunday.
#8 - Iowa Hawkeyes (—)
The Hawkeyes split the team’s games last week, falling on the road against Penn State on Thursday and bouncing back against Minnesota at home on Sunday. The win pushed Iowa to 14-10 overall and 6-7 in Big Ten play.
Iowa would still need a miracle to get into serious NCAA Tournament consideration, but has two opportunities to improve its resume with Maryland on the road on Wednesday and Wisconsin at home on Saturday. The team is an underdog in both games.
#9 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (+2)
The Gophers opened last week with a massive win over Michigan State at home on Tuesday. It was a win that turned heads nationally and had many fans dreaming about a hot finish and an NCAA bid. Unfortunately, the team fell flat afterward, falling on the road to Iowa on Sunday. The loss dropped Minnesota to 15-8 overall and 6-6 in Big Ten play.
With eight regular season games remaining, time is running short on Minnesota’s postseason hopes. The Gophers still have a chance to make some noise, but doing so will almost certainly require at least two marquee wins. Much of the uphill battle has to do with the team’s lackluster non-conference slate. If the Gophers had scheduled a bit better, the team very well might be on the bubble right now.
Minnesota will get two challenging games this week with Purdue on the road on Thursday and Rutgers at home on Sunday. KenPom expects a split.
#10 - Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)
The Nittany Lions went 1-1 in the team’s games last week, beating Iowa at home on Thursday and falling on the road at Northwestern on Sunday. The loss to the Wildcats snapped a three-game winning streak for the team. It dropped Penn State to 12-12 overall and 6-7 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will hope to get back on track this week with Michigan State at home on Wednesday and Nebraska on the road on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are projected as underdogs in both games.
#11 - Maryland Terrapins (-4)
The Terps lost both the team’s games last week, falling at home to Rutgers on Tuesday and following it up with a road loss to Ohio State on Saturday in double overtime. The losses dropped Maryland to 13-11 overall and 5-8 in Big Ten play. Any slim postseason hopes went up in flames with the losses.
Maryland will get two games at home this week with Iowa on Wednesday and Illinois on Saturday. Both games look relatively winnable if the Terps play well. However, consistency has been a significant issue for Maryland all season, so we’ll have to wait and see what version of the Terps show up.
#12 - Indiana Hoosiers (—)
The Hoosiers had a relatively disappointing week. Indiana opened with a win over Ohio State on the road on Tuesday, but followed it up with a blowout loss to arch-rival Purdue on the road on Saturday. The loss dropped Indiana to 14-10 overall and 6-7 in Big Ten play.
Indiana will get most of the next week off before returning to action on Sunday at home against Northwestern. KenPom has the Hoosiers as mild underdogs.
#13 - Ohio State Buckeyes (—)
The Buckeyes split the team’s games last week, falling at home to Indiana on Tuesday, but rebounding with a dramatic double overtime win over Maryland at home on Saturday. The win snapped a five-game skid for Ohio State. The team now sits at 14-10 overall and 4-9 in Big Ten play.
Ohio State will now prepare for a brutal week, with Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday and Purdue at home on Sunday. The Buckeyes are substantial underdogs in both games.
#14 - Michigan Wolverines (—)
The Wolverines were a lot like the Buckeyes this week. The team snapped a five-game skid against Wisconsin at home on Wednesday, but followed it up with a blowout loss to Nebraska on the road on Saturday. The split left Michigan sitting at 8-16 overall and 3-10 in Big Ten play.
Michigan will hope to grab another win this week, with Illinois on the road on Tuesday and rival Michigan State at home on Saturday. The Wolverines were underdogs in both games.