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Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings, eighth edition: Consistency prevails

The hierarchy of the conference is establishing itself.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

In this week’s conference slate, a bit of consistency was established as better teams prevailed in addition to home teams asserting their dominance.

Here’s where every team falls after yet another series of games:

1. MIchigan State (14-4, 6-1)

Last week’s ranking: 1

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Sparty rebounded from a shellacking at the hands of Purdue to find a nice win over Wisconsin in East Lansing. Though Tom Izzo’s team is the cream of the Big Ten right now, it isn’t running away from the pack.

Michigan State will have another road test in Bloomington tomorrow, where it will try to avoid the same fate that it endured in West Lafayette.

2. Rutgers (14-4, 5-2)

Last week’s ranking: 3

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but Rutgers is slowly becoming a top-six seed type of tournament team. The Scarlet Knights continue to win, this time taking down Minnesota, and they’re displaying the talent and shooting that is required to make a tourney run.

3. Maryland (15-4, 5-3)

Last week’s ranking: 4

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Northwestern Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland came out of the gates hot against Purdue, where it was able to maintain its lead throughout the contest, but it was a different kind of game trajectory that got the job done for the ‘Terps on Tuesday.

Down 14 at the half, Mark Turgeon’s squad responded with a dominant second half which featured a 25-point edge. It’s the type of win that will show his team what it is capable of, as the Terrapins had struggled to come back throughout the year.

4. Wisconsin (12-7, 5-3)

Last week’s ranking: 2

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Badgers’ week went according to the script, as Wisconsin fell to Michigan State in East Lansing before returning to the Kohl Center and picking up a win against a lowly Nebraska team.

With a rematch against MSU upcoming and a test against Iowa ahead of it, we’ll quickly get an understanding of what this team really is.

5. Iowa (13-5, 4-3)

Last week’s ranking: 5

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawkeyes prevailed in a shootout with Michigan, and the squad is continuing to progress nicely, despite the injury bug taking its toll on Iowa. While those injuries are a concern, the team’s depth is taking center stage, as bench players and role players are stepping up and helping earn victories.

6. Illinois (14-5, 6-2)

Last week’s ranking: 6

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

When the Illini can shoot the ball, they are a force to be reckoned with. An inside-out team that controls the paint with excellent big play, Illinois is slowly beginning to expand its range and find the deep ball. If the trend continues, this team will not only approach the top of the conference, but it will be a serious threat in March.

7. Penn State (13-5, 3-4)

Last week’s ranking: 11

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Facing an Ohio State team that struggles on the road, it was imperative that the Nittany Lions picked up a win. Shooting the lights out, PSU romped en route to an easy but crucial victory. The squad faces a tough test on the road in Ann Arbor tonight, but it is a very winnable game.

8. Indiana (14-4, 4-3)

Last week’s ranking: 12

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Beating Nebraska is the easy part, though necessary, and the Hoosiers took care of that. Now comes the hard part, in which Michigan State, Maryland and Penn State are the next three matchups for Indiana. The stretch will be a defining period in the Hoosiers’ postseason prospects.

9. Michigan (11-6, 2-4)

Last week’s ranking: 7

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

This Michigan team does not win on the road, this time falling to Iowa in a high-scoring affair. A team that cracked the top five at one point in the season, Michigan is at risk of not making the tournament if it can not pick up some wins in the near future.

10. Ohio State (12-6, 2-5)

Last week’s ranking: 8

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Another squad that had an electric start to the season before struggling mightily in conference, Ohio State went from a tournament favorite to 2-5 in the conference within weeks. Its loss to Penn State compounded the issues, and like Michigan, if the Buckeyes can’t pull it together, they are at serious risk of missing out on dancing.

11. Purdue (10-9, 3-5)

Last week’s ranking: 9

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After picking up a dominant win against MSU that could have sparked the Boilermakers’ season, they responded by dropping two consecutive contests in which they never had a shot. Purdue is now at risk of falling to .500 and suffering a very disappointing season.

12. Minnesota (10-8, 4-4)

Last week’s ranking: 10

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Though big man Daniel Oturu is one of the best at his craft in the country, he can’t do it all on his own, as Sunday’s contest with Rutgers showed. Though the Gophers have dug themselves out of a deep hole that defined its start to the season, it will have to surround Oturu with better execution if it wants to threaten the tournament bubble.

13. Northwestern (6-12, 1-7)

Last week’s ranking: 13

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Northwestern Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

For twenty minutes, it seemed as though Boo Buie’s return meant a revitalized Northwestern team would pick up its second conference win. But those hopes were quickly dashed when Maryland had a scorching second half that thwarted Northwestern’s offense. On to the next one.

14. Nebraska (7-12, 2-6)

Last week’s ranking: 14

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Rounding out the rankings is Nebraska, another squad that can’t buy a win. It’ll likely be an underdog in each of its contests the rest of the way, unless Vegas decides that roadwestern isn’t to be favored against the ‘Huskers.