This week’s conference matchups provided another batch of close finishes and surprising upsets. The Big Ten is as competitive as it’s ever been, as each team is within just four games of the top spot.
Here’s where every team falls after yet another highly chaotic series of games:
1. Michigan State (13-4, 5-1 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 1
The Spartans started the week hot with a convincing win against Minnesota, led by a 27 point night from senior Cassius Winston. However, a blowout loss to Purdue, in which Michigan State was held to 12.5% shooting from beyond the three-point arc, ended their eight game win streak. If the other top Big Ten teams hadn’t been handed bad losses as well, Michigan State surely would have dropped in the rankings.
With upcoming games against Wisconsin and Indiana, the Spartans have a chance to fully restore their status as conference favorites.
2. Wisconsin (11-6, 4-2 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 8
Wisconsin, shockingly, surges in the rankings after beating two ranked teams this week. First, the Badgers took care of Penn State, preventing the Nittany Lions from scoring in the first 8:36 of the game. Next, they defeated an athletic Maryland team thanks to a game-winning three-pointer from guard Brad Davison.
The Badgers’ superior defense will be crucial as they try to take things to the next level, facing off against Michigan State over the weekend.
3. Rutgers (13-4, 4-2 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 4
Perhaps the most surprising team in the conference, Rutgers suffered its first home loss in a low-scoring slugfest against Illinois, despite a strong performance off the bench from Jacob Young. The Scarlet Knights redeemed themselves with a tough win on the road against Indiana and now find themselves tied for second place in the Big Ten.
Rutgers has two manageable contests against Minnesota and Iowa upcoming, although both games will provide a challenge for the relatively young, inexperienced team.
4. Maryland (13-4, 3-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 2
Coming off a strong performance against Ohio State, Maryland fell twice this week to unranked opponents. On the road against Iowa, the Terps shot just 32.7% from the field and found themselves down by more than 20 in the second half. Then in Madison, they dropped a nail biter to Wisconsin.
The Terps will attempt to get back on the right track with very winnable games against Purdue and Northwestern coming up.
5. Iowa (12-5, 3-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 9
After an 0-3 start to conference play, Iowa seems to be back on track. The Hawkeyes easily defeated Maryland behind a 45-point combined effort from guard Joe Wieskamp and center Luka Garza, the Big Ten’s leading scorer. They also beat Northwestern on the road by shooting 47.3% from the field and 45.5% from three.
The Hawkeyes will try to assert themselves as a top team in the conference when they host Michigan and Rutgers in the coming days.
6. Illinois (12-5, 4-2 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 7
The Fighting Illini had just one game this week, but they took care of business, edging Rutgers for their fourth conference victory. Freshman star Kofi Cockburn put up 11 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, once again dominating in the paint.
7. Michigan (11-5, 2-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 6
Michigan continues to see vastly different results at home and on the road. The Wolverines secured a double overtime victory in Ann Arbor against Purdue, with senior point guard Zavier Simpson contributing 22 points and nine assists in 49 minutes. However, untimely turnovers cost Michigan its next game at Minnesota.
With an upcoming game against Penn State in State College, the Wolverines have the opportunity to secure a much-needed road win.
8. Ohio State (12-5, 2-4 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 3
Ohio State falls five spots in the rankings after losing their fourth straight game to Indiana last Saturday. The Buckeyes’ starters were held to just 36 points, and as a team, Ohio State failed to reach 60 points for the fourth straight game. Luckily, the Buckeyes grabbed a vital win against floundering Nebraska on Tuesday to snap their losing streak.
9. Purdue (10-7, 3-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 11
Purdue suffered a deflating double overtime loss to Michigan last Thursday despite an outstanding 36 point, 20 rebound performance from Trevion Williams. However, the Boilermakers responded with a dominant 29 point victory over Michigan State three days later, outplaying the Spartans in nearly every statistical category.
The Boilermakers will need similar performances if they want to defeat Maryland and Illinois and rise further in the power rankings.
10. Minnesota (10-7, 4-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 12
The outstanding play from center Daniel Oturu is finally translating to wins for the Golden Gophers. Oturu is averaging 20.3 PPG and 12.1 RPG, which is second and first in the conference, respectively. As a result, Minnesota picked up two massive victories against Michigan and Penn State this past week, and they are just a few great performances away from rocketing up this list.
11. Penn State (12-5, 2-4 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 5
Penn State drops six spots in the rankings, due to two losses this past week to Wisconsin and Minnesota. That marks three straight losses to unranked Big Ten opponents, which is extremely damaging in such a competitive conference. The Nittany Lions have seemingly lost the explosive scoring that carried them to wins over Maryland and Iowa earlier in the season, and Pat Chambers’ bunch has a long way to go to regain their swagger.
12. Indiana (13-4, 3-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 13
Indiana secured an impressive home win against Ohio State last Saturday thanks to a strong bench performance by guard Devonte Green. Yet the Hoosiers immediately dropped a crucial game against Rutgers, shooting an abysmal 31.7% from the field and 10.5% from distance.
If Indiana can become more consistent on the offensive end, they’re bound to shoot up the rankings. A win against Nebraska on Saturday will be important before they take on Michigan State next Thursday.
13. Northwestern (6-10, 1-5 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 14
Northwestern finally won its first conference game by beating Nebraska, maintaining a 10+ point lead for the majority of the game. The ‘Cats were humbled when they faced Iowa a few days later, yet they remained competitive until midway through the second half.
Northwestern remains at the bottom of the Big Ten, and its next four games are against ranked opponents, beginning with Illinois and and Maryland.
14. Nebraska (7-10, 2-4 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 10
Nebraska’s road trip ended in two losses, and as a result they drop to last in the power rankings. Poor performances against Northwestern, in which no Cornhusker player eclipsed more than 11 points, and Ohio State, who shot a whopping 54.5% from the field, contributed to the downward spiral of Fred Hoiberg’s squad.