As another week of Big Ten basketball comes to a conclusion, Big Ten tournament seeds are becoming much clearer to envision. While the middle of the Big Ten keeps beating on one another, the two top teams on the leaderboard even suffered defeats this past week...
1. Maryland (23-5, 13-4)
Last week’s ranking: 1
The Terps lost a tough road game at Ohio State on Sunday, but remain in the top spot due to an impressive comeback at Minnesota on Wednesday. Maryland plays a key game in College Park against Michigan State on Saturday night; the winner of this game should claim the top spot in next week’s rankings.
2. Penn State (21-7, 11-6)
Last week’s ranking: 2
Like Maryland, the Nittany Lions dropped a game against a lesser opponent last Sunday at Indiana. PSU got back on track with a win against Rutgers, though, and we will find out how good Pat Chambers’ squad really is after tomorrow morning’s contest at No. 18 Iowa.
3. Michigan State (19-9, 11-6)
Last week’s ranking: 8
I know, I know. I am higher on Sparty than most. But, here’s the truth: no one wants to play against a team led by Tom Izzo and Cassius Winston. The duo already has MSU back on track as the team has won three of its last four games. As I said with Maryland, we will find out a lot more about this Michigan State team tomorrow night.
4. Wisconsin (18-10, 11-6)
Last week’s ranking: 7
I am all in on the new-look Badgers. Immediately following Kobe King’s departure, the Badgers seemed poised to be watching the NCAA tournament from home. Instead, Greg Gard refocused his squad and the Badgers have won its last five of six games. Last night, the Badgers earned an impressive victory edging out Michigan in the Crisler Center.
5. Ohio State (19-9, 9-8)
Last week’s ranking: 9
Despite losing to Iowa since last week’s Big Ten power rankings, the Buckeyes climbed four spots in this week’s poll. OSU has won four of their last five, with wins most recently over Maryland and Nebraska. While I do not believe the Buckeyes are as good as Kenpom suggests (the #8 team in the country), I think OSU is a top five team in the Big Ten.
6. Illinois (19-9, 11-6)
Last week’s ranking: 4
You may be wondering why the Fighting Illini, who went 2-0 since last week’s ranking, fell two spots in this week’s ranking. Well, the answer is simple: U of I’s two victories came over Northwestern and Nebraska. Still, the Illini will be a dangerous team in March with many key contributors. Of course, as Brad Underwood highlighted after last night’s game, if Alan Griffin makes six three pointers a game, the Illini will be tough to stop.
7. Michigan (18-10, 9-8)
Last week’s ranking: 3
With an impressive road victory against Purdue last Saturday, the Wolverines were one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten winning their last five games. Last night, though, Michigan suffered a home loss at the hands of Wisconsin. If UM had beaten UW, Juwan Howard’s squad would be ranked much higher.
8. Iowa (19-9, 10-7)
Last week’s ranking: 5
After a crucial victory against Ohio State last Thursday, the Hawkeyes fell to Michigan State on Tuesday. In such a strong year for the Big Ten, being ranked eighth is no insult. While Luka Garza has played lights out this season, Fran McCaffery will need Joe Wieskamp and other role players to step up for Iowa to go deep in March.
9. Rutgers (18-11, 9-9)
Last week’s ranking: 6
Losers of their last three games, Steve Pikiell’s squad has come crashing back to earth. Still, Rutgers is a solid team that plays with a ton of heart. Hopefully, Northwestern can replicate its turnaround in the next few seasons.
10. Indiana (18-10, 8-9)
Last week’s ranking: 10
Ah, the life of Big Ten basketball: where everyone beats up on one another. After holding off Penn State in last Sunday’s victory, the Hoosiers fell to in-state rival Purdue yesterday. Still, the Hoosiers remain in contention for an NCAA tournament bid, firmly on the bubble.
11. Purdue (15-14, 8-10)
Last week’s ranking: 12
The Boilermakers are in jeopardy of missing the Big Dance for the first time since 2014. , Purdue will need to build on Thursday night’s victory over Indiana and beat Iowa and Rutgers to finish the season to have any chance of sneaking in.
12. Minnesota (13-14, 7-10)
Last week’s ranking: 11
Led by Daniel Oturu, the Golden Gophers dominated Northwestern last Sunday and seemed primed to go on a late season run. Richard Pitino’s squad looked even more impressive after leading Maryland by 16 points at halftime on Wednesday night, yet ended up losing the game on a last second three pointer by Darryl Morsell. Minnesota will need to go far in the Big Ten tournament to have any shot at a tournament bid.
13. Northwestern/Nebraska (6-21, 1-16) (7-21, 2-15)
Last week’s ranking: 13/14
Sunday. Pinnacle Bank Arena. 3:15. Northwestern. Nebraska. The battle for the last spot in the Big Ten.