The race for the Big Ten title is still up for grabs, with top teams continuing to battle it out each night. The conference had a quiet week, with the postponement of six games due to COVID-19 and inauguration-induced travel worries. There’s still plenty of season to play, and that means that we’ll continue to see some major upsets week to week. With that said, this is how we stacked the teams this week.
1. No. 14 Ohio State (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten)
Last Week: 3
After a puzzling loss to Nebraska, the Buckeyes earned statement victories over both Maryland and Michigan this week. They defeated the Wolverines 81-77 despite Michigan forward Naz Hillmon’s 50 points and beat the Terps 88-86 in Columbus despite 33 points from Maryland guard Ashley Owusu. OSU will face a tough Indiana team Thursday night and follow that with a trip to Evanston on February 1. It’s a shame they are ineligible for the postseason (through no fault of their own).
2. No. 7 Maryland (11-2, 7-1)
Last Week: 1
Maryland committed the unforgivable sin of not playing enough this week, with its games against Iowa and Michigan both being postponed in very 2020-21 ways. The Terps’ one game was the aforementioned nail-biter loss to Ohio State, justifying their one-spot slide in the rankings. Guard Ashley Owusu continues to be a force and Maryland may very well remain the team to beat in the Big Ten. They’ll have a chance to get back on track with games this week versus Rutgers and Wisconsin.
3. No. 12 Michigan (10-2, 5-1)
Last Week: 2
Michigan, like Maryland, had three games postponed this week as the Michigan athletic department placed a two-week pause on all activity. Michigan has looked impressive so far this season, but its only ranked win came against Northwestern, and an 81-77 loss to Ohio State hurt its case for the top spot. The Wolverines have a true star in Naz Hillmon, who broke the school’s single-game scoring record against Ohio State with 50 points and 16 rebounds. It remains to be seen how the Michigan’s two-week long pause in activity will affect the women’s team.
4. No. 16 Indiana (9-3, 7-1)
Last Week: 4
Indiana put on an impressive performance in Evanston on Sunday, defeating Northwestern 74-61 after a week-and-a-half break due to postponements of games against Rutgers and Michigan State. Ali Patberg continues to struggle from the field, but sophomore guard Mackenzie Holmes impressed with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting against the Wildcats. IU has a chance to make a statement on Thursday when No. 14 Ohio State visits Bloomington.
5. No. 23 Northwestern (8-3, 6-3)
Last Week: 5
Northwestern blew out a weak Illinois squad behind Lindsay Pulliam’s 28 points but followed up that performance with a blown lead to Indiana. The weak finish was a grave indication of this team’s challenges compared to a year ago. So far, Joe McKeown’s squad has struggled to beat other quality Big Ten teams, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier going forward.
6. Michigan State (9-2, 5-1)
Last Week: 6
The Spartans played their first game in two weeks against Wisconsin, routing the Badgers by 32. MSU’s bench stepped up big, with Taiyier Parks adding 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Unfortunately, the Spartans continue to see games being postponed, and a scheduled back-to-back against the now-idle Wolverines doesn’t help. They hope to take the floor Sunday on the road against Indiana.
7. Iowa (9-3, 5-3)
Last Week: 8
Iowa hasn’t played a game in a week and a half. However, the offensive-minded Hawkeyes beat Purdue 87-81 behind Caitlin Clark’s 26 points and nine boards and fought Ohio State in an 84-82 overtime loss. We would’ve gotten to see Iowa compete with Maryland last Thursday, but that game was postponed due to DC security concerns surrounding the Inauguration. The Hawkeyes face NU on Thursday as they try to level the season series after the Wildcats’ 10-point win a couple of weeks ago.
8. Nebraska (8-5, 6-4)
Last Week: 7
UNL has scored big wins but also experienced letdowns. Following victories over Ohio State and Michigan State, the Huskers then lost to a middling Minnesota team and barely beat an Illinois squad that has lost each Big Ten game by an average of almost 22 points. Nebraska still has chances to build its March resume with games against Northwestern and Maryland looming, but it needs to take care of business against weaker teams first.
9. Purdue (6-6, 3-5)
Last Week: 10
Purdue has already played four of the five best teams in the conference. The Boilermakers’ next game is against Minnesota, and a win could help separate them from the bottom-tier of the conference.
10. Rutgers (5-3, 1-3)
Last Week: 9
Poor Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights still haven’t played since our last rankings, and they’ve squeaked by only lowly Wisconsin. They hope to next take the court Thursday at Maryland.
11. Minnesota (4-7, 3-6)
Last Week: 12
Lindsay Whalen’s squad continues to improve, with four starters scoring in double figures to beat Penn State by nine points just two weeks after losing to the Nittany Lions. The Gophers have another winnable game against Purdue in Minneapolis before running into Iowa on Sunday.
12. Penn State (4-7, 3-6)
Last Week: 11
PSU continues to struggle. Its only game this week was the aforementioned nine-point loss to Minnesota, but freshman Makenna Marisa continues to show why she is one of the most exciting young players in the conference. She scored 25 points in the loss. The Nittany Lions aren’t going to contend for much this year, but they will become more of a threat as young players like Marisa and Maddie Burke continue to see the floor.
13. Wisconsin (3-10, 0-10)
Last Week: 13
Ruh roh, Badgers. Sophomore Sydney Hilliard is a bright spot of the Badger’s dismal season, averaging 17.2 points per game. We can’t wait for Wisconsin-Illinois on Sunday to determine next week’s bottom feeder.
14. Illinois (2-8, 0-7)
Last Week: 14
Nothing happened this week to warrant the Illini moving up from the cellar. But they lost to a good Nebraska team by only four points!