A few former mid-ranked teams made notable jumps in this week’s standings. Here’s our most up-to-date rankings:
1. No. 4 Michigan (13-1, 8-1 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 1
Michigan did not play this week due to COVID-19 complications, but the Wolverines remain the best team in the Big Ten. Hunter Dickinson cannot be stopped. Isaiah Livers is shooting over 40% from three. Franz Wagner is taking after his brother and playing the best basketball of his life. Michigan’s next game is not until February 11, where it faces off against a tough Illinois squad in Ann Arbor.
2. No. 19 Illinois (11-5, 7-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 4
The Fighting Illini played a tough, gritty and strong game in a home win against the Hawkeyes. Kofi Cockburn, Andre Curbelo and Ayo Dosunmu all played quite well against Iowa and pioneer one of the best offenses in the country, let alone the Big Ten. Illinois’ AP rankings should continue to climb with a road tilt against Indiana and a home game versus Wisconsin in the upcoming week.
3. No. 7 Iowa (12-4, 6-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 2
Iowa dropped a tough game against Illinois in Champaign on Friday, but there were many redeeming qualities. Firstly, Luka Garza is still the best player in the Big Ten and was able to score 18 points against Kofi Cockburn. Secondly, the Hawkeyes’ shooting is still consistent, as they made 40% of their threes against the Fighting Illini. Look for Iowa to redeem themselves at home versus Michigan State and Ohio State.
4. No. 13 Ohio State (13-4, 7-4 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 3
Ohio State beat a strong Penn State team at home this week and cemented themselves as a top team in the Big Ten. With E.J. Liddell dropping 15 points a game on over 50% from the field, the Buckeyes seem unstoppable. It feels like anyone on Ohio State could go for 20 points in a given game, making the Buckeyes road to a nice seeding in the NCAA tournament even easier.
5. No. 10 Wisconsin (13-4, 7-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 5
There is a significant drop-off between the top four teams in the league and the rest, as evidenced by Wisconsin’s sporadic play. The Badgers almost choked an 18 point lead to the Terrapins before dropping the ball against Penn State on the road. D’mitrik Trice and Micah Potter need to step it up if they want to gain a top seed in the NCAA tournament and stunt their recent slipping in performance.
6. Rutgers (9-6, 5-6 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 11
Rutgers returned to previous form this week thanks to a 30 point victory over Michigan State and a tight win over Indiana. Both Gio Baker and Ron Harper Jr., catalysts to the Scarlet Knights’ early success, are playing strong basketball and are in contention for the best guard pairing in the Big Ten. Rutgers has a chance to jump into the top five of these rankings if they continue their hot streak and snag wins over Northwestern and Minnesota in the coming week.
7. Indiana (9-7, 4-5 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 6
Indiana barely lost to Rutgers and could easily be sixth on the list if a few baskets go their way. Trayce Jackson-Davis’ tear has not stopped, and when his supporting cast of Armaan Franklin and Al Durham show up, the opposing team is in trouble. The Hoosiers play a tough next two games against Illinois and Iowa, but Indiana is strong enough to pull off an upset in either of these two games.
8. No. 21 Minnesota (11-5, 7-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 7
Minnesota did not play a game this week, failing to clarify any questions about their inconsistency. As long as Marcus Carr plays his best basketball, and Liam Robbins can be successful in stopping the many top big men in this conference, then Minnesota’s wins were no fluke.
9. Penn State (6-7, 3-6 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 12
Penn State has only gotten better, going 2-1 for the week and knocking off Wisconsin at home. Their single loss to Ohio State was a four-point loss that was close throughout, further proving the Nittany Lions’ consistency. If Penn State’s hot streak continues, they should be looking at a decent seed in the NCAA tournament and solidify their status as a solid Big Ten team.
10. Purdue (11-6, 6-4 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 8
The Boilermakers, back from a brief COVID-19 absence, are making noise in the Big Ten. They did drop a tough game against Michigan, but the continued consistency of Ohio State, Penn State and Indiana — all teams they beat in their four-game win streak — makes the Boilermakers look legitimate. If they can get over their newfound shooting woes that were apparent against Michigan (shooting a horrid 30% from the field), Purdue will be a tough test for any team in the NCAA tournament.
11. Maryland (9-8, 3-7 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 9
While Maryland only played one game this week, their volatility and lack of consistency shone brightly. The Terrapins came out slow in the first half against Wisconsin before closing the gap and only losing by six points. Before, it was “What Maryland will you get for every game;” now, it is “What Maryland will you get for every half?” At least Aaron Wiggins is coming back to form.
12. Michigan State (8-5, 2-5 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 10
Tom Izzo’s team is not doing Tom Izzo things. The Spartans have the second least Big Ten wins in the conference and show no signs of letting up after a blowout loss on the road at Rutgers. Star Aaron Henry is not playing to his standards and he will need to pick it up if Michigan State wants to go to the big dance in 2021.
13. Northwestern (6-8, 3-7 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 13
Northwestern did not play its best basketball in an 81-78 road loss to the Nittany Lions. Miller Kopp finally emerged in a late-game scenario and shot 50% from three, but the successful five-out offense that drove the Wildcats to a 3-0 B1G start is not being run with the same consistency as earlier in the season. Chris Collins will have to make myriad adjustments if the ‘Cats want to make an NCAA push ahead of their matchups against Rutgers and Purdue next week.
14. Nebraska (4-8, 0-5 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 14
Nebraska has not played a game in nearly three weeks, and based on their previous performances and lack of a Big Ten win, the last rank in the Big Ten suits them perfectly. Hopefully, they can bounce back from their layoff and win a few games to rejuvenate their season.