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Big Ten men’s basketball power rankings, Edition XII

The ‘Cats are moving up and the Illini are number one. Basketball in the state of Illinois may just be ~back~.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the final week of the Big Ten regular season before the conference tournament takes place next week. The top half of the conference is loaded while the bottom half remains largely intact from last week. Come read our final regular season edition of Big Ten basketball rankings.

1. #4 Illinois (19-6, 15-4 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 3

Illinois may just be the hottest team in the country. The Fighting Illini have won 10 of their past 11 games, but Brad Underwood’s squad’s most recent victory has to be the most impressive one yet. Playing without star Ayo Dosunmu, the Illini clobbered Michigan by 23 points. That win in itself has earned the Illini the number one spot in our ranks.

2. #2 Michigan (19-2, 14-2 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 1

As previously mentioned, Michigan’s loss to Illinois bumped the Wolverines down to the number two spot. The Wolverines are still very, very good and just beat up on crosstown foe Michigan State by 19 points on Thursday night. Whether or not Juwan Howard’s club can reclaim the number one spot will be determined next week in Indy.

3. #5 Iowa (19-7, 13-6 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 4

Since last week’s rankings, Iowa beat top-10 Ohio State, which gives it an edge over OSU. Beyond beating the Buckeyes, Iowa just dropped 100 points in an inappropriate demolition of Nebraska on Thursday night. We all know Iowa has the offense to go deep into March, but the team’s defensive chops (much improved of late) will ultimately determine just how long it plays.

4. #7 Ohio State (18-7, 12-7 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 2

After notching more quadrant one wins than any other Big Ten team earlier in the season, Ohio State has dropped games to the Big Ten’s elites in Iowa and Michigan. The Buckeyes have three point shooting and play solid defense, but the jury remains out on just how good OSU can be as the season progresses through March.

5. No. 23 Purdue (17-8, 12-6 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 5

The Boilermakers beat Wisconsin in the past week, and that win solidifies their spot at number five. The top four of the Big Ten are pretty obvious, and with a matchup against in-state rival Indiana looming on Saturday, Purdue has an opportunity to firmly stamp its ticket as the Big Ten’s fifth-best team.

6. No. 25 Wisconsin (16-10, 10-9 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 6

The squad in Madison makes little sense. Brad Davison, D’Mitrik Trice, Micah Potter, Nate Reuvers and Aleem Ford are all seniors with tons of experience and talent. Yet, for whatever reason, Wisconsin hasn’t clicked. The Badgers have underperformed offensively, but thir experience can’t be discounted in March.

7. Michigan State (14-11, 8-11 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 7

MSU has started to play some of its best basketball at the right team. The Spartans beat Indiana earlier in the week before falling to Michigan on Thursday. MSU may not be the traditional conference powerhouse that it normally is, but its late-season emergence should strike fear into all opponents. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi currently has MSU among his last four in, and the Spartans’ performance in the Big Ten Tournament next week should determine whether or not the team gets in the field of 68.

8. Rutgers (13-10, 9-10 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 8

Rutgers is lucky to not be sliding down in the rankings after losing by 21 points to Nebraska. Still, Steve Pikiell’s team has had an impressive season nonetheless. Rutgers is a gritty squad, and not one that opponents would look forward to facing in a do-or-die game.

9. Maryland (15-11, 9-10 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 9

Maryland handled Michigan State by 18 points last Sunday but just lost to bottom feeder Northwestern. The Terps are difficult team to assess, but Joe Lunardi projects them to be playing safely in the Big Dance after their five-game win streak.

10. Indiana (12-11, 7-9 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 10

Yikes, Archie. The Hoosiers lost to Rutgers by 11 this week, all but cementing their spot to be watching the Big Dance from home this year.

11. Penn State (9-13, 6-12 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 12

A dominant win over Minnesota this week is enough to move PSU up in our rankings. The Nittany Lions should win their first round matchup in the Big Ten tournament. After that, well, Penn State’s season will probably conclude.

12. Northwestern (8-14, 5-13 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 13

With two consecutive wins over Maryland and Minnesota, Northwestern jumped the Golden Gophers in the standings and has become entrenched in the number twelve spot. Chris Collins’ late-season run has temporarily cooled his hot seat, and a victory over Nebraska plus a win in the Big Ten tournament to finish the season would supply some optimism for the Wildcats heading into the offseason.

13. Minnesota (13-13, 6-13 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 11

Richard Pitino may have the hottest seat in the Big Ten, and despite not losing thirteen consecutive games, Minnesota may be the coldest team in the conference. The Gophers are catching a ton of heat from local media. Remember when they were headed for a top-five seed in the NCAA Tournament?

14. Nebraska (7-18, 3-15 B1G)

Last week’s ranking: 14

To anyone who watched the Chicago Bulls from 2015-2018, this ranking should not come as a surprise. Even with a five-star recruit joining Nebraska next season, the Cornhuskers still face an uphill battle to relevance in the Big Ten. Fred Hoiberg has had success at the collegiate level with Iowa State before, but Nebraska is a whole new challenge. A challenge that may even surpass the difficulties of coaching a roster constructed by GarPax.