Big Ten women’s basketball is in the thick of conference play, with a few teams proving themselves to not only be legitimate threats in the B1G, but nationally as well. Preseason underdogs have risen to the occasion, while some early favorites have fallen off quickly.
However, with just about two months of regular season play left, the title is still anyone’s game in what has quickly established itself as the most wide-open, entertaining conference throughout all of women’s college basketball, and the middle of the pack continues to be as tangled up as ever.
Without further ado, our second edition of these power rankings:
#1: #19 Iowa (16-3, 7-1 B1G)
Last Week: 1
Not only are the Hawkeyes still the hottest team in the Big Ten, they’re winners of seven straight and have solidified themselves as a legitimate threat come March. In terms of Big Ten placement, they currently hold a share of first place with Northwestern.
Iowa played in two games this week, as they waltzed into Madison last Sunday and snuck out with an 85-78 victory over the Badgers before squeaking out a 77-68 win at home over Ohio State on Thursday. In this past Monday’s edition of the AP Poll, the Hawkeyes improved on their previous No. 22 placement and jumped to the No. 19 spot.
While the wins this week weren’t blowouts, Iowa has continued to impress, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Hawkeyes remain in great position to continue their win streak, beginning Sunday with a home game against Michigan State. Until Iowa cools off, they’ll remain the top team in the Big Ten, and will have plenty of eyes on them as conference play continues.
#2: #22 Northwestern (17-2, 7-1 B1G)
Last Week: 2
After their thrilling overtime road victory at Indiana, there were some who thought Northwestern would sleepwalk into this past Sunday’s home game vs. Penn State.
Instead, the ‘Cats did exactly the opposite by outscoring the Nittany Lions 24-7 in the first quarter and never looking back.
To add to their impressive week, NU earned their first AP Top 25 placement of the season (it was long overdue) on Monday, coming in at No. 22. Then, topping it all off, Northwestern marched into East Lansing last night to face a Michigan State team that was previously undefeated at home this season.
The ‘Cats won by 26, forced 24 turnovers and held the Spartans to 18/51 shooting.
While the week Northwestern had was truly extraordinary, it wasn’t quite enough to dethrone the Hawkeyes (the ‘Cats’ only conference loss — a 26 point home loss to that very team — still looms large). NU will get another golden shot to prove they’re the team to beat in the Big Ten when they face No. 20 Maryland in College Park this Sunday.
#3: #20 Maryland (15-4, 6-2 B1G)
Last Week: 3
Maryland had a strange start to conference play, as they opened up with a 28 point win at then-#24 Michigan and followed that with a 23-point loss at Northwestern. Since then, however, the Terrapins have gone 5-1 in conference play, winning two games this week vs. No. 17 Indiana and at Illinois.
This past Monday, Maryland earned the No. 20 spot in the AP Top 25, becoming the third-highest ranked team in the Big Ten. The Terps are hot as of late, but face a huge test when No. 22 Northwestern comes to town on Sunday. As mentioned previously, this will be a huge matchup for both the ‘Cats and the Terrapins, and is certainly one to keep an eye on this weekend.
#4: #17 Indiana (15-5, 5-3 B1G)
Last Week: 5
While the Hoosiers had an extremely strong start to the season, they’ve fallen a bit flat in conference play. Indiana received the No. 17 spot in this week’s AP Poll, but they’ve dropped three of their last four games in losses to Iowa, Northwestern and Maryland. Somehow, they remain the highest ranked team in the Big Ten, thanks largely to their impressive non-conference resumé.
The Hoosiers did bounce back a bit from those three losses, as they secured a 76-60 victory at Penn State last night. Indiana’s schedule will ease up this week, with the Hoosiers facing Minnesota and Wisconsin. If Indiana can rattle off a couple of wins against those inferior opponents, they may be able to regain some of their early-season momentum.
#5: Rutgers (15-3, 5-2 B1G)
Last Week: 5
Rutgers currently sits fourth in the Big Ten, yet remains unranked. Prior to this week, their only conference loss came against Indiana, but the Scarlet Knights had yet to secure a signature win. That second part is yet to change, and it seems some of Rutgers’ momentum may be starting to fade.
Last Thursday, the Scarlet Knights travelled to face Penn State, where they eked out a 62-57 win against a team that is, statistically, the worst team in the Big Ten in multiple categories. On Monday, Rutgers hosted Michigan State. They led late before letting the Spartans go on a 9-0 run to close the game out. The Knights lost 66-55 after putting up just six points in the fourth quarter.
Rutgers will look to get back on track when they face Michigan on Sunday.
#6: Michigan State (11-8, 4-4 B1G)
Last Week: 7
After dropping a very winnable game to Penn State early on in conference play, Michigan State rattled off three straight wins against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Rutgers. Two of the three wins came by ten points or more, and the most a team scored vs. MSU over this three game stretch was a mere 65 points (scored by Ohio State).
It seemed the Spartans were on a roll coming into yesterday. They remained undefeated at home until Northwestern marched in and rolled to the aforementioned blowout win. Prior to the harsh loss, Michigan State had a decent amount of momentum, so it will be intriguing to see whether the Spartans can get back on their feet when they travel to face Iowa on Sunday.
#7: Purdue (13-7, 4-4 B1G)
Last Week: 10
Last Thursday, the Boilermakers picked up a much needed win over Illinois that snapped a three game skid. This past Sunday, however, they fell back into a funk, losing at home by 13 to Minnesota in a game in which Purdue trailed for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
That wasn’t the end to Purdue’s up and down week, however. They followed their 13-point loss up with an impressive eight-point victory at Nebraska. The Boilermakers have looked shaky all season, but have a chance to go on a win streak with an easier schedule ahead, beginning with a matchup at home against Penn State on Sunday.
#8: Ohio State (11-8, 4-4 B1G)
Last Week: 8
Ohio State has continued to play largely as expected in conference play after a rollercoaster of a week. The Buckeyes steamrolled Illinois on Sunday, winning by 30 in Champaign, before dropping a game at Iowa last night by just nine.
OSU’s loss to Purdue that came early on is what prevents them from moving up in the power rankings, and the Buckeyes won’t get another chance to make a move until next Thursday, when they host No. 20 Maryland.
#9: Nebraska (14-5, 4-4 B1G)
Last Week: 6
Much like Purdue, Nebraska had a strong start to conference play, but have lost three of their last four, including the previously mentioned loss to the Boilermakers. The Cornhuskers only win in their past four games came this past Sunday in a nailbiter over Michigan.
While Nebraska has struggled, a lighter schedule this week means we could see the Cornhuskers get back on track. UNL will face Wisconsin in Madison and Minnesota in Minneapolis in two pivotal matchups. The Cornhuskers will need to take both of those games if they want to remain in the postseason conversation.
#10: Michigan (12-6, 3-4 B1G)
Last Week: 9
Prior to conference play, Michigan looked like a potential consistent member of the AP Poll. Unfortunately, the beginning of conference play didn’t pan out the way the Wolverines would’ve liked, as they entered this week sitting at 3-3 in conferencey. Not bad by any means, but it could certainly be better.
The maize and blue played in just one game this past week, the aforementioned three point loss to Nebraska in Lincoln. While the schedule doesn’t ease up anytime soon — they’ll face Rutgers, Northwestern and Iowa in their next three games — the Wolverines will need to pick up a couple wins in these next few games if they want to get back in the postseason conversation.
#11: Wisconsin (10-9, 2-6 B1G)
Last Week: 13
Coming into Wednesday, Wisconsin’s only Big Ten win came against a measly Penn State squad and the Badgers had dropped four straight Big Ten games. Wednesday night, however, UW picked up a huge road win at Minnesota, defeating the Gophers 72-62 and showing that they can hang in the middle of the pack.
Next week, the Badgers will play host to Nebraska before traveling to Bloomington to take on No. 17 Indiana. The win over the Golden Gophers could be key for momentum, but the schedule doesn’t get any easier from here.
#12: Minnesota (12-7, 2-6 B1G)
Last Week: 12
After an impressive 11-1 start to the season, the Golden Gophers fell off the face of the Earth when conference play arrived. Minnesota has lost six out of their last seven ever since they were ranked 24th to close out 2019.
While it appeared the Gophers had found a groove following their 72-59 victory over Purdue earlier this week, they went back to their losing ways Wednesday night, dropping the previously mentioned game at home vs. Wisconsin. Minnesota will attempt to get back on track when they face No. 17 Indiana at Assembly Hall this Monday.
#13: Illinois (10-9, 1-7 B1G)
Last Week: 11
Illinois has dropped their last three games, with their only conference win coming in an “upset” victory over Minnesota (who was without both Bello sisters) at home. The Illini began this week with a blowout loss to Ohio State and followed it up with a 19 point loss vs. Maryland last night. Illinois will now have a week to regroup, as their next game doesn’t come until they face Rutgers in Piscataway next Thursday.
#14: Penn State (7-12, 1-7 B1G)
Last Week: 14
Penn State has struggled all season, and this past week was no different. After the blowout loss the Nittany Lions suffered against Northwestern on Sunday, Penn State hosted No. 17 Indiana, losing by 16 points. Unfortunately for PSU, the schedule doesn’t get any easier from this point on, as they’ll face Purdue and Iowa this upcoming week before playing host to Northwestern in early February.