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Big Ten women’s basketball power rankings: Fifth Edition

Nebraska climbs the ranks.

Northwestern University

This week showed that the rankings will be changing constantly, both at the top and bottom. This conference is so deep, and with the added element of COVID, anyone can beat anyone this year.

1. No. 15 Michigan (9-0, 4-0 B1G)

Last Week: 1

It’s hard to find a flaw in this Michigan team. Naz Hillmon is a phenomenal post player; they shoot the three well, and they have experienced veterans. They only beat Nebraska by two, but that’s better than Northwestern did. And speaking of Northwestern, the Wolverines’ demolition of the ‘Cats in Evanston tells you everything you need to know about this team: they’re a legitimate competitor on a national level.

2. No. 12 Maryland (9-1, 5-0 B1G)

Last Week: 2

Even without highly touted recruit Angel Reese, the Terps are getting it done. A 3-0 week with wins over Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue solidified just how good this Maryland team is. The Terps combine speed, length and elite scoring to beat teams, but with only a seven-deep rotation, depth could pose a challenge down the stretch. Indiana outscored them by 10 in the fourth quarter to almost steal a win while Michigan State beat them 54-45 in the second half. Brenda Frese doesn’t have as much depth as normal on her roster to give her starters significant rest, and that could open the Terps up to blowing games late.

3. No. 19 Indiana (7-3, 5-1 B1G)

Last Week: 6

After a first quarter in which they were outscored 23-9 by the Terrapins, Indiana stormed back in the fourth to make it a close game. While their late push wasn’t enough, the Hoosiers showed a resolve that will do them a lot of good in a tough Big Ten season. Mackenzie Holmes, Grace Berger and Ali Patberg are all averaging double figures. Teri Moren will need her stars to keep their scoring high, as senior Jaelynn Penn exited the Maryland game on crutches and will likely miss considerable time with an ankle injury. They ended the week by beating Wisconsin, as they should have.

4. No. 22 Northwestern (6-2, 4-2 B1G)

Last Week: 2

Northwestern has been hot and cold over the past few weeks. The Wildcats took full advantage of their opportunity to dominate the Badgers at the Kohl Center. In a prime time game against the Hawkeyes, they came out strong on offense and held freshman phenom Caitlin Clark to just eight points. But their losses to Nebraska and Michigan the week before were worrisome, and NU’s overall performance still leaves questions about its ability in the post.

5. No. 16 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 B1G)

Last Week: 3

The postponements have reached a worrisome point for the Buckeyes. After having three Big Ten games postponed due to COVID within their programs, Ohio State will now not get to play Sunday due to a positive case in the Rutgers program. Even if OSU is able to get all of its games in at the end of the season, the teams they will have to face are Maryland, Iowa, Michigan State and Rutgers. That’s a tough schedule over the course of a few weeks, but trying to play and win those games in a matter of days is an even taller task.

6. No. 23 Michigan State (8-2, 4-1 B1G)

Last Week: 5

The Spartans have a ton of energy on both ends of the floor. They came out hot against Purdue, leading by 12 at the half. After a mediocre start against Maryland, they kept it close, riding Nia Clouden’s 32 points, and almost came back to win. After falling behind to Nebraska in the first half, the Spartans upped their intensity for much of the second half, but let things slip away at the end. Michigan State is a good team, but it’s still working to prove it can compete with some of the conference giants.

7. Nebraska (6-4, 4-3 B1G)

Last Week: 12

This Nebraska squad might just make the tournament. It followed up its win against Northwestern by downing Rutgers, holding Arella Guirantes to eight points in 40 minutes. The Huskers then played a phenomenal game against Michigan State, beating them on the road. Sam Haiby is a bonafide star, and Isabelle Bourne is emerging into one as well. Nebraska has now beaten two ranked teams and took Michigan down to the wire. If the Huskers keep it up, they could add a major wrinkle to this Big Ten season.

8. Iowa (8-2, 4-2 B1G)

Last Week: 7

Any Big Ten win is respectable, but the Hawkeyes downed two conference bottom feeders in Minnesota and Illinois before falling to Northwestern in the second half. If not for a dominant performance from Monika Czinano, Iowa would’ve been blown out by the Wildcats, who limited Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes’ three-point shooting. With that said, few teams will be able to stifle the freshman star the way NU did, and Iowa will usually shoot better than 5-for-19 from beyond the arc. All in all, this team has the star power and shooters to be ranked nationally sooner than later.

9. Rutgers (5-3, 1-3 B1G)

Last Week: 8

Rutgers has star power, but that might be all they have. Tekia Mack, Arella Guirantes and Diamond Johnson are all players who have been or will be on All-Big Ten teams in their careers. All three of them are scoring at a high rate, but the Scarlet Knights need to get it together on the defensive end. They held Nebraska to 53, but Maryland and Iowa both put up 91 and 90, respectively. After a positive test within the program, the games against Purdue and Ohio State have been postponed.

10. Purdue (5-4, 2-3 B1G)

Last Week: 9

The Boilermakers simply don’t have the talent to compete with the elite teams in the Big Ten. They came out with a ton of energy against Michigan State, but in the end, the talent gap was too much for them to overcome. They were then thoroughly whooped by Maryland, only scoring six points in the first quarter, and losing by almost 40.

11. Penn State (4-5, 0-5 B1G)

Last Week: 11

Penn State is in the middle of a tough stretch of their schedule. After keeping the game close against Syracuse, it blew a late lead to Purdue before facing three losses to Maryland, Ohio State and Indiana and a postponement against Michigan. The Nittany Lions won the easy one against Minnesota, but they now face Northwestern at home before traveling to Rutgers.

12. Minnesota (2-6, 1-5 B1G)

Last Week: 14

The Gophers had five players score in double figures against Wisconsin, including 24 from redshirt senior Gadiva Hubbard. They carried the momentum into Iowa, pulling ahead to a 10-point lead at the half before collapsing in the second half and getting outscored by 17 in the third quarter. They played Penn State close, despite shooting 31% from the floor. Frankly, this team has a lot of work to do in order to climb the ranks.

13. Wisconsin (3-6, 0-6 B1G)

Last Week: 12

Wisconsin had its chance at a Big Ten win, coming back against Minnesota to then lose in overtime. The Badgers stuck with Northwestern in the first quarter, but that was mostly due to the Wildcats missing their shots. As bad as the loss to the ‘Cats was, the most notable storyline was the injury of Sydney Hilliard. Fortunately, she was able to return and play in Sunday’s game in Bloomington although she couldn’t carry the Badgers past Indiana.

14. Illinois (2-6, 0-5 B1G)

Last Week: 13

Illinois has lost their five Big Ten games by a combined 111 points. They gave up 107 to Iowa. Yikes.