No win will be a given this year in the Big Ten. Nebraska proved that this week, as a huge upset shook up our rankings.
1. No. 14 Maryland (5-1, 1-0 B1G)
Last Week: 1
Maryland didn’t play particularly well against Penn State, but they still beat them by 14. Diamond Miller is an elite star, combining length and speed that are unmatched in the Big Ten, and Ashley Owusu dropped a whopping 34 points on the Lady Lions. The Terps are legit and a strong favorite to win the Big Ten again this year.
2. Michigan (6-0, 2-0 B1G)
Last Week: 3
The Wisconsin matchup provided a fantastic opportunity for Michigan to get their feet set before a huge game in Evanston. Despite having to wait 22 days to play, Michigan smothered the Badgers, with 10 Wolverines scoring in double figures, including 22 from Hilmon and 26 from Brown. Heading into the matchup with the Wildcats, the Wolverines outsize the ‘Cats down low and will rely on their phenomenal shooting from deep.
3. Ohio State (4-0)
Last Week: 4
Not much to report on for the Buckeyes. Thursday’s game against MSU was postponed, and Ohio State will hopefully play its first game since December 10 on Monday when the Buckeyes are set to host Penn State.
4. Northwestern (4-1), 2-1 B1G)
Last Week: 2
The ‘Cats came alive in the fourth quarter against Nebraska after a disastrous third, only to see Sam Haiby deal the final blow with half a second left on the clock. The 63-65 loss to the Huskers wasn’t what Northwestern wanted to see this early on in the season, but it isn’t the end of the world. Northwestern still has everything to play for in front of it. We saw Pulliam begin to turn things around, and NU knows that rebounding and free throws are problems that can be fixed in practice. The loss drops Northwestern this week, but a win against Michigan could propel them to the top once again.
5. Michigan State (7-0, 2-0 B1G)
Last Week: 5
Michigan State didn’t get to play this week, but the Spartans have looked good in the games they have played this season. They haven’t shown enough to be ranked over Northwestern yet, but a win at Purdue and a Northwestern loss to Michigan would do the trick.
6. Indiana (5-2, 3-0 B1G)
Last Week: 6
Indiana beat Illinois by 23 points, and held the Illini to 20 points in the first half and just 2-of-12 shooting from behind the arc. Illinois is the second-worst team in the Big Ten, though, so Indiana still has plenty to prove.
7. Iowa (6-1, 2-1 B1G)
Last Week: 8
Caitlin Clark might be the best freshman in the country. She led the Hawkeyes with 28 points while adding six assists and six rebounds, propelling her squad over Rutgers 90-84. As high octane as the Iowa offense is, its defense needs to improve and do so quickly. The Hawkeyes have given up over 75 points in six of their seven games this year, and their Big Ten opponents have averaged just under 83.
8. Rutgers (5-1, 1-1 B1G)
Last Week: 7
The Iowa loss hurts, but coming back from a 16 point first-quarter deficit against the Hawkeyes showed grit that few teams have. Tekia Mack returning will be huge for this team going forwards, and will help take some of the pressure off of Arella Guirantes, who scored 34 to keep the Scarlet Knights in the game. As Diamond Johnson gets rolling, Rutgers has the potential to emerge as a top 25 team.
9. Purdue (5-2, 2-1 B1G)
Last Week: 9
Purdue hasn’t played a game since our last ranking, but its talent is enough to keep it over Nebraska for now. The Boilermakers’ home matchup against Sparty should clue us into how good (or not) they are.
10. Nebraska (4-3, 2-2 B1G)
Last Week: 12
Sam Haiby is the real deal. The guard scored 19 against Northwestern, including a buzzer-beating layup. Izzy Bourne also played an impressive game, finishing with 11 points and 10 boards, five of which were offensive. With that said, a lot of what Nebraska did to beat Northwestern was capitalizing on sloppy play from the ‘Cats. Northwestern missed a lot of shots that they shouldn’t have, Nebraska fouled a lot and UNL made their money on easy second-chance points and wide-open threes. The Huskers looked good, but it’s unclear how good they will be when their opponents box out and eliminate wide-open looks from downtown.
11. Penn State (3-3, 0-2 B1G)
Last Week: 11
Penn State showed a lot of energy against Maryland, hanging with the Terps for much of the first half. But the Nittany Lions’ inexperience showed, as they turned the ball over 19 times in addition to the 20 fouls committed. It’s going to take some time for this young team to grow, but if they get hot, they can beat some teams from beyond the arc, especially if they can keep shooting 35% from deep.
12. Wisconsin (3-3, 0-3 B1G)
Last Week: 12
Michigan annihilated the Badgers, winning by over 40 points. Wisconsin is incredibly dependent on Imani Lewis and Sam Hillard, so if opponents can limit those two, which they have (the pair combined for 18 points against Michigan), Wisconsin will struggle.
13. Illinois (2-3, 0-2 B1G)
Last Week: 13
Kennedi Myles had 15 against Indiana, which is pretty impressive. What’s not impressive is scoring 31 points through three quarters, which the Illini did. It’s going to be a tough season for the other team in Illinois, and at this point, you have to feel bad for Nancy Fahey, who just doesn’t have the talent on her roster to compete with upper-echelon Big Ten teams.
14. Minnesota (1-4, 0-3 B1G)
Last Week: 14
Minnesota has one of it’s best chances to pick up a Big Ten win against Wisconsin, and needs to capitalize before the season gets out of hand.