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Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings, sixth edition: Shakeup at the top

Things are heating up.

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

As conference play continues, the Big Ten continues to prove its depth and talent. Let’s take a look at where the conference stands after an opening round of Big Ten games to kick off 2020:

1. Michigan State (12-3, 4-0 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 2

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

The Spartans have yet to lose a conference game and are currently on a seven-game winning streak after they passed the test that was Michigan this past Sunday. They should be able to continue this streak as they take on Minnesota and Purdue later this week.

2. Maryland (13-2, 3-1 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 5

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Terps move up in the rankings after they handled Ohio State on Tuesday, not long after beating Indiana by almost 20 points over the weekend. An impressive defensive performance secured the win for Maryland, who didn’t score for the first six minutes of the game yet held the Buckeyes to 31 percent from the field.

Maryland shouldn’t see any trouble in its next two contests against Iowa and Wisconsin.

3. Ohio State (11-4, 1-3 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 1

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes lose their place at the top with back-to-back losses against Wisconsin and Maryland. Despite starting off the season strong, they have since struggled to produce offensively, especially without power forward Kyle Young.

Upcoming games against Indiana and Nebraska will give Ohio State a chance to bounce back and regain momentum, but unless the shots start falling, it may be easier said than done for the Buckeyes.

4. Rutgers (12-3, 3-1 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 12

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

The Scarlet Knights shot up in the rankings with a huge double-digit upset over Penn State Tuesday. For a team that hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1991, this win is huge. This marks the sixth win in a row for Rutgers, and they did it without leading scorer Geo Baker.

Steve Pikiell’s team will have a chance to prove itself once again when it takes on Illinois on the road Saturday.

5. Penn State (12-3, 2-2 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 3

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

The Nittany Lions ended their five-game win streak with a loss to Rutgers on the road. Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins once again combined for almost 30 points, and sophomore Myreon Jones added 21, but it was not enough to top the Scarlet Knights.

Penn State faces Wisconsin and Minnesota next in Big Ten play, both of which should be relatively easy matchups, but the real test comes next weekend with Ohio State.

6. Michigan (10-4, 1-2 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 4

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

The Wolverines have seen some ups and downs this season, most of which seem to depend on whether they are on the road or not. They are 7-1 at home, 3-0 at neutral sites, and 0-3 away. They fell in a double-digit loss to MSU this past Sunday, but should be able to bounce back when they return home to face Purdue.

7. Illinois (9-6, 2-2 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 10

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

This Illinois team continues to go back and forth with a loss to Michigan State that was quickly followed by a nearly 30-point win over Purdue and a narrow win over Wisconsin. Against Purdue, sophomore Alan Griffin stood out with 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, while freshman Kofi Cockburn continued to impress with 12 points.

In the one-point win over Wisconsin, the Fighting Illini were led by Ayo Dosunmu and Cockburn, once again proving the strength of their inside game.

8. Wisconsin (9-5, 2-1 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 11

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Since Ohio State transfer Micah Potter became eligible to play, Wisconsin went on a roll, winning four games in a row, the most recent of which a road win against none other than the Buckeyes themselves.

But this streak was put to an end when Illinois came out on top Wednesday, ending a 15-game losing streak against the Badgers (which was dated to 2011). Looking forward, Wisconsin will have a tough time facing Penn State on Saturday.

9. Iowa (10-5, 1-3 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 6

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Penn State Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The now unranked Hawkeyes fell to Nebraska in what was a rough shooting performance. They shot 12.1 percent from the 3-point-line, compared to Nebraska’s 38.5 percent, and only made two free throws the whole game.

This loss comes after Iowa fell to Penn State to re-enter conference play. And it doesn’t look like the Hawkeyes’ luck is going to get any better as they take on Maryland Friday.

10. Nebraska (7-8, 2-2 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 13

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska bounced back from a loss to Rutgers with a win over Iowa behind a double-double from Cam Mack, his fourth of the season. The Cornhuskers went up by double digits in the first half and were able to carry this momentum through the game to get the win.

Saturday’s matchup between Nebraska and Northwestern will give the Cornhuskers a chance to replicate their success against Iowa.

11. Purdue (9-6, 2-2 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 8

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The crushing 63-37 loss to Illinois pushed the Boilermakers down a few spots in the rankings even after they topped Minnesota in double overtime the week before. Purdue made only two of their last 20 shots of the game and totaled the lowest shooting percentage (25 percent) allowed in Illinois program history. This lack of production on offense leaves this team in a tough spot as they prepare to take for a road test against Michigan.

12. Minnesota (8-6, 2-2 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 9

NCAA Basketball: Florida International at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

After the upset over Ohio State, Minnesota failed to redeliver when they fell to Purdue on the road. The win over Northwestern was expected, but the real test for the Gophers (who are now 0-4 on the road) will come when they travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State.

13. Indiana (12-3, 2-2 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 7

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana barely pulled out a win over Northwestern after losing back-to-back games against Arkansas and Maryland, which is worrying as they head into a matchup against Ohio State on Saturday. You wouldn’t know it from the 12-3 record, but the hot seat is starting to warm up for Archie Miller as the Hoosiers’ offensive struggles continue.

14. Northwestern (5-9, 0-4 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 14

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After leading for almost all of the second half, Northwestern fell to Indiana in their fifth-straight loss. The Wildcats, who were led by guards Pat Spencer and Miller Kopp, have lost their past five games by less than 9 points. In case you missed it last night, here’s a remarkably depressing stat.

Nebraska will test the ‘Cats on Saturday, followed by Iowa and Illinois the next week.