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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Northwestern now 1-12 in last 13 games decided by 10 points or less. Pete Nance who I said pregame needed to be impactful for NU to win goes 1-for-9 from the field. https://t.co/bMcHO1ARyf— Ryan Lindley (@RLins12) January 9, 2020
Nebraska will test the ‘Cats on Saturday, followed by Iowa and Illinois the next week.