There are lots of shake-ups this week as teams battle on a nightly basis. Here’s our most up-to-date ranking:
1. No. 7 Ohio State (15-4, 9-4 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 4
Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten over the past month, winning seven out of eight including tilts with Rutgers, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa on the road last night. What makes the Buckeyes so deadly is their ability to find different ways to win games. While E.J. Liddell continues to make his presence felt inside, Duane Washington Jr., Justice Sueing and Seth Towns have all stepped up their game to put the Buckeyes over the top.
2. No. 4 Michigan (13-1, 9-1 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 1
Michigan’s one-spot drop is not a reflection of them, but rather the Buckeye’s strong play. The Wolverines have had an extended break due to COVID-19 but should find their way back on the court next week versus Illinois. UM is a consensus one-seed right now and will need to keep their hot play going to maintain that heading into March.
3. No. 12 Illinois (12-5, 8-3 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 2
After back-to-back losses, the Fighting Illini have won three straight behind elite shooting performances from Trent Frazier. Brad Underwood’s team showed a lot of toughness Wednesday night, finding a way to win after Ayo Dosunmu fouled out mid-way through the second half. A brutal week is on the horizon for the Illini, with games against Wisconsin and Michigan.
4. No. 8 Iowa (13-5, 7-4 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 3
Sound the alarms — the Hawkeyes have lost three of their past four games. Iowa’s defensive woes have consistently hurt them, proving that even the second-highest scoring team in the country needs to stop their opponents to win games. While Luka Garza is the team’s biggest weapon, CJ Frederick seems to be the glue holding Iowa together, as the Hawkeyes slump has coincided with Frederick’s decline in play.
5. Rutgers (11-6, 7-6 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 6
After a five-game skid, the once 11th-ranked Scarlet Knights have gotten back on track with four straight wins. Rutgers showed it could find a way to close games out in a back-and-forth 76-72 win over Minnesota Thursday night, a previous concern for Steve Pikiell’s team. Next, Rutgers will have a chance to avenge their two-point loss to Iowa from earlier in the season.
6. No. 19 Wisconsin (14-5, 8-4 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 5
The Badgers have lost two of their past four games, including a disappointing 10-point loss to lowly Penn State. Wisconsin remains one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country, turning the ball over only nine times per game. What continues to hold the Badgers back is their inability to get consistent play from their senior-laden squad. It remains to be seen which Wisconsin squad will take the court on a nightly basis.
7. No. 24 Purdue (12-7, 7-5 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 10
The Boilermakers finally received their first ranking of the season, coming in at 24th in the AP poll. Unfortunately for Matt Painter, that won’t last long after a loss to Maryland. The inconsistent Boilermakers still lack a real identity outside of giving Trevion Williams 15+ shots per game. As the season progresses, more will continue to be asked of this talented freshmen group.
8. Indiana (9-8, 4-6 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 7
After a season-defining win at Iowa, the Hoosiers have lost two straight games, each by four points. Week in and week out, Trayce Jackson-Davis continues to dominate the rest of the conference. With Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan left on the schedule, Archie Miller’s team has enough “prove-it” games to punch their ticket to March Madness.
9. Maryland (10-8, 4-7 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 11
Maryland remains in the mix for an at-large big solely due to the strength of their conference wins which includes road wins at Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. While the Terps’ defense has looked sharp as of late, the offense has not been able to get it done, averaging just 60.5 points over their last four games.
10. Minnesota (11-7, 4-7 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 8
Minnesota has flat out fallen apart. The Golden Gophers have lost six of their last eight including three straight. Marcus Carr continues to shoot well, but Pitino’s guys don't have the inside presence to compete. With March approaching fast, Minnesota is trending in the wrong direction.
11. Penn State (6-8, 3-7 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 9
After starting conference play with four straight losses, the Nittany Lions have bounced back, winning three out of five including a double-digit win versus Wisconsin. The biggest thing holding PSU back is their inefficient offense, which is shooting 42.8% from the field. That ranks them 246th in the country.
12. Michigan State (8-7, 2-7 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 10
The Spartans shot just 29% from the field versus Rutgers in their first game back from a three-week COVID-19 hiatus, including a second-half performance of just 17 points. After a tough game against Ohio State in which MSU never felt in it, the Spartans fought hard a six-point loss at Iowa. While it’s not impossible for Izzo’s team to go dancing, a turnaround needs to happen fast.
13. Northwestern (6-9, 3-8 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 13
Northwestern looked physically and mentally outmatched in their tilt versus Rutgers on Sunday night. While Miller Kopp and Chase Audige continue to score in volume, they have lacked the consistency needed to compete in the Big Ten. It doesn’t help that Boo Buie can’t seem to find the rhythm that led him to a Big Ten player of the week award earlier this season. The good news is that the ‘Cats lose almost nothing from their current squad and have a solid recruiting class to be a real threat next season.
14. Nebraska (4-8, 0-5 B1G)
Last week’s ranking: 14
It has been nearly a month since the Huskers stepped on the court, but Fred Hoiberg’s squad finally returned to practice this week. At this point, it makes sense for Nebraska to attempt to build through their youth for next season rather than attempt to push for anything the rest of this year.