With the Big Ten tournament in Indy just three days away, teams are fighting to the finish to secure the best possible seed. Here’s how the final regular-season ranking shook out.
1. No. 8 Maryland (20-2, 16-1)
Last Week: 1
The number one team in the Big Ten and number eight in the nation, Maryland rolled through two games last week, beating Northwestern 62-50 on Sunday and crushing Michigan 88-63 on Thursday. The Terrapins are first in the Big Ten in points per game (91.5) and field goal percentage (42%). Freese’s squad looks to capture the Big Ten regular-season title this weekend against Penn State.
2. No. 10 Indiana (17-4, 15-2)
Last Week: 2
With wins against Ohio State and Iowa last week, the Hoosiers have strung together eight wins in a row and 13 out of their last 14. This team isn’t necessarily the top in any team stats categories but knows how to win. Indiana is in an ideal place to earn a share of the Big Ten title in Indy.
3. No. 24 Rutgers (14-3, 10-3)
Last Week: 3
Rutgers remains in the three spot, as this team also continues to find ways to win. Following a month-long COVID hiatus, the Scarlet Knights have won nine straight. New Jersey’s Big Ten team played Penn State twice this week, both wins. It was a 60-55 victory on Sunday and a more lopsided 74-56 win on Tuesday, as Rutgers showed off its impressive scoring defense, allowing just 55.8 points per game. Rutgers closed out its regular season with a dominant win over No. 22 Ohio State on Friday night and is poised to make a run in the tournament.
4. Northwestern (13-6, 11-6)
Last Week: 5
Northwestern, Michigan and Iowa are all over the place right now, but with an impressive fight against Maryland, holding the nation’s top offense to 62 points, Northwestern gets the nod and jumps up in the power rankings. It might sound monotonous, but this defense is elite. The ‘Cats have the best turnover margin in the Big Ten (+10.3) while only allowing 61.9 points per game. At the helm of this gritty and stingy defense are Veronica Burton (4.2 steals per game, best in B1G) and Sydney Wood (2.8 steals per game, third in B1G). Although they are 2-3 in their last five games, Northwestern can end its regular season with a statement win against Michigan this Saturday.
5. No. 12 Michigan (13-4, 8-4)
Last Week: 4
Another team that is 2-3 in their last five, Michigan did not look great this past week. The Wolverines were blown out of Lake Michigan by Iowa two weeks ago, and with a game against Minnesota getting canceled this past week, the Maize and Blue lost their second in a row against Maryland by 25. Naz Hillmon continues to lead the way with 25.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, offering up her case as a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate.
6. Iowa (14-8, 10-8)
Last Week: 6
If only this team could defend, they’d have all the pieces. Caitlin Clark is averaging 27.1 points per game. Monika Czinano leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage with 66.8% on the season. The team averages 87.6 points per game, and they have the most made threes in the Big Ten. However, no one in the conference gives up more points than Iowa, allowing 81.3 points per game, which contributed to their tough 89-80 loss to Indiana on Wednesday. The Hawkeyes take on Nebraska this Saturday before the tournament commences.
7. Nebraska (11-10, 9-9)
Last Week: 8
Nebraska had a light load this week, as they simply did not play (last Saturday’s game against Michigan State got postponed), but as long as Ohio State keeps losing, it will keep dropping. The Cornhuskers beat Penn State — a team that beat Ohio State last week — two weeks ago, so that contributes as well.
8. No. 22 Ohio State (13-7, 9-7)
Last Week: 7
The Buckeyes are cracking. having dropped five of their last six and three spots in the ranking in two weeks. The Buckeyes lost a difficult game to Indiana last weekend 87-75. This team can score the ball, seeing as it averages 81.1 points per game, but OSU ended its regular season on a down note after a very hot start and will not participate in the postseason due to a self-imposed postseason ban.
9. Michigan State (12-7, 7-7)
Last Week: 9
Another team that did not play last week, there isn’t much to say about the Spartans right now. They are the last team with a winning record and have competed with some of the conference’s best despite an incredibly competitive Big Ten. Nia Clouden is having herself a great season averaging 18.8 points per game and is looking to lead her team to a solid win this weekend against Wisconsin.
10. Minnesota (8-12, 7-11)
Last Week: 11
Minnesota is yet another team that did not play due to a Michigan game cancelation, but the Gophers jump a spot because Penn State is having a rough go currently. This team has simply not been able to get it done on either side of the floor, averaging 69.4 points per and 79.4 against. It also ended its season Friday night with a miserable loss to Illinois, the worst team in the Big Ten.
11. Penn State (9-13, 6-12)
Last Week: 10
Penn State had a difficult week this past week, as it had to play Rutgers twice, and since Rutgers hasn’t lost since January, that means the Nittany Lions went 0-2. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, the road ahead looks just as ominous with a game against Maryland on Saturday.
12. Purdue (7-14, 4-13)
Last Week: 12
Purdue managed to distance itself a little bit from the bottom two teams with a 70-66 win against Illinois last Saturday. The Boilermakers can finish their season with a season-high two-game win streak if they could upset Indiana this Saturday.
13. Wisconsin (5-17, 2-17)
Last Week: 13
The only other win that Wisconsin has besides an Ohio State upset is against Illinois. They’ve lost four in a row and six of their last seven. They can salvage themselves from the bottom if they stave off the Spartans this Saturday, but for now, the 13 spot seems appropriate for them.
14. Illinois (4-17, 2-16)
Last Week: 14
The Illini finally found their second Big Ten win in an upset over Minnesota. It may have been an incredibly challenging season for Nancy Fahey and her squad, but they ended it on a high note heading into their Big Ten tournament matchup on Tuesday.