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Big Ten women’s basketball power rankings: 10th Edition

The good get better and the bad get worse.

With only a few games left in the season, teams are falling in order. The title could still be shared, and many teams remain contenders, especially with the Big Ten tournament just around the corner.

1. No. 8 Maryland (18-2, 14-1 Big Ten)

Last Week: 1

The Terrapins have picked up three wins since last Saturday against Minnesota, Iowa and Purdue, bringing their win streak to seven. Including the win against Illinois last Wednesday, Brenda Frese’s squad has had an average margin of victory of 31 points in their past four games. This team is a scoring machine and leads the Big Ten in offense with 93.4 points per game. The Terps look to clinch back-to-back Big Ten titles in their game against Northwestern on Sunday as they prepare to make a deep run in the postseason come March.

2. No. 11 Indiana (15-4, 13-2)

Last Week: 2

The top two teams in this week’s power rankings remain steady, as the Hoosiers picked up their fifth and sixth wins in a row against No. 11 Michigan and Wisconsin. Ali Patberg led the team with 21 points in both games. Being one game back of Maryland, Indiana would need some magic from Northwestern and wins against Ohio State and Iowa next week in order to share the Big Ten regular-season title.

3. No. 25 Rutgers (11-3, 7-3)

Last Week: 8

Rutgers makes the biggest jump of the week. The Scarlet Knights have ripped off six wins in a row dating back to February 7 (after a month-long COVID hiatus), with three of them coming in the past week and a half against Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan State. The team boasts the best defense in the conference (55.8 points allowed per game) and the largest average margin of victory with 22.4. Rutgers is a dangerous and hot team right now and is battling with Northwestern for a top-four spot in the tournament seeding to earn a double-bye. The Scarlet Knights finish their season up against Penn State and Ohio State next week.

4. No. 12 Michigan (13-3, 8-3)

Last Week: 3

The Wolverines have dropped a spot since last Power Rankings with some up-and-down play since last Thursday’s 70-65 loss to Indiana. They followed that up with a good nine-point victory against a solid Ohio State team last Sunday. However, the Wolverines then fell to Iowa 89-67 on Thursday. Naz Hillmon, the second most prolific scorer in the Big Ten, has been leading the way with an average of 25.9 points per game. Having lost two of their last three, Michigan will aim to bounce back and finish strong this week against Minnesota Northwestern.

5. Northwestern (13-5, 11-5)

Last Week: 4

The ‘Cats dropped one spot since our last rankings, though not due to anything they have or have done. After dropping back-to-back losses to Rutgers and Nebraska, Northwestern came back with two solid wins against Wisconsin and Illinois. However, with its toughest matchup of the year this weekend against No. 8 Maryland, Northwestern has an opportunity to finish the regular season with some serious confidence. With a Big Ten-best 10.6 turnover margin, the stellar Wildcat defense will have its hands full with one of the best offenses in the nation.

6. Iowa (13-7, 9-7)

Last Week: 6

Last week, the Hawkeyes suffered a predictable loss to Maryland but came back on Thursday to crush Michigan. Lisa Bluder’s squad averages 88.2 points per game (second in the Big Ten) with the conference’s scoring leader Caitlin Clark commanding the way averaging 27.3 points per game. Forward Monika Czinano backs her guard with an incredible 68.6% field goal percentage, also leading the Big Ten. While the Hawkeyes’ offense has been unstoppable lately, their defense ranks last in the conference with 82.2 points allowed per game. Iowa finishes its season with games against Wisconsin and Indiana next week.

7. No. 15 Ohio State (13-5, 9-5)

Last Week: 5

The Buckeyes’ stock is trending downward. Consecutive losses last week against Michigan and a shoddy Penn State team mean Ohio State has lost three of their last four. This team had impressive wins last month, so their next two games against Indiana and Rutgers could possibly help them end on a higher note.

8. Nebraska (11-10, 9-9)

Last Week: 9

The Cornhuskers broke a four-game skid against Northwestern last Wednesday and continued with another win against Penn State. They then fell to Minnesota later in the week. Nebraska is a competitive team, with almost all team stats in the middle of the pack, but it just doesn’t have the firepower to crack the top tier of Big Ten teams for now. The Huskers conclude their season against Michigan State on Saturday.

9. Michigan State (12-7, 7-7)

Last Week: 7

The Spartans have had quite a tough schedule, but without a significant number of wins against ranked opponents, this team falls to the ninth spot. Following a win against Purdue, MSU lost to Rutgers on Wednesday 63-53. Outside of Nia Clouden, there isn’t much happening with this program right now. However, the Spartans hung tight with Maryland, Northwestern and Michigan and could pull out an upset in the postseason. The green and white travel to Nebraska on Saturday to wrap up their season.

10. Penn State (9-11, 6-10)

Last Week: 9

If the Nittany Lions hadn’t lost four games in a row before their upset victory against Ohio State on Wednesday, they might have jumped a few spots. The win over the Buckeyes was a huge one, but this conference is too competitive for Penn State to crack the upper tier. The Nittany Lions have an opportunity to finish strong, however, against Rutgers on Sunday.

11. Minnesota (8-11, 7-10)

Last Week: 11

The Golden Gophers went 1-1 last week, losing to Maryland and beating Nebraska by 10. Going back to last Wednesday and their loss to Rutgers in New Brunswick, Minnesota has now dropped two of their last three. They will conclude their regular-season slate at home against Michigan on Sunday.

12. Purdue (6-14, 3-13)

Last Week: 12

The Boilermakers have now lost eight in a row and 12 of their last 13. Their only win of 2021 was a one-point victory over Wisconsin. This just isn’t their year.

13. Wisconsin (5-16, 2-16)

Last Week: 13

The Badgers still only have two conference wins, which keeps them at the bottom of these rankings. Last week, they had a tough two-game stretch against Northwestern and Indiana, in which they dropped both. UW plays Iowa on Sunday with the hope of avoiding last place possibly in the conference.

14. Illinois (3-16, 1-15)

Last Week: 14

Illinois is last in points per game, last in points margin per game, last in field goal percentage and therefore ranks last in the Big Ten. It’s been an exhausting season for Illinois. The Illini almost came away with a win over Northwestern thanks to dominant first and fourth quarters, but the Wildcats pulled away in the end. They finish their season against Purdue on Sunday.