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Big Ten men’s basketball power rankings, fourth edition

Parity is cool.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Two weeks into January, it’s safe to say that the Big Ten makes no sense this year. Purdue is definitely good…. and that’s about all we know. Every team in the league has at least one conference win, and, other than the Boilermakers, at least two losses. The race for tournament bids as we move closer to March promises to be electric, but let’s take a look at where each team stands right now:

1. No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers

Record: 17-1 (6-1 B1G)

Next Game: at Minnesota

Last Ranking: 1

There’s no need to overthink this one; the record tells the story. Although Michigan State played them close yesterday, Purdue is the unquestioned best team in the Big Ten. They can knock down shots, they have Zach Edey and they allow the third least points per game in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers are going to make noise this year not just in the Big Ten, but in all of college basketball. A national championship could be within reach.

2. No. 23 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Record: 13-5 (5-2 B1G)

Next Game: at Michigan State

Last Ranking: 4

Rutgers is also very good. Coming off a week in which it beat both Northwestern and Ohio State in tightly contested games, Rutgers looks like a threat to separate itself from the rest of the tightly congested conference. Cam Spencer is one of the more impactful transfers in college basketball this season and has been shooting the lights out. Meanwhile, Clifford Omoruyi is a matchup nightmare and averaging a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds).

3. Illinois Fighting Illini

Record: 13-5 (4-3 B1G)

Next Game: vs Indiana

Last Ranking: 6

This is where things have really shaken up this week. Third may seem way too high for an Illinois team that, at times this season, has looked like it’s just trying to keep its head above water. But despite internal turmoil and a putrid start to conference play, the Illini have quietly strung together three straight wins since losing to Northwestern. All three were in convincing fashion and one was against the No. 14 team in the nation at the time, Wisconsin. Terrance Shannon Jr. and Dain Dainja have both stepped up their play in the past couple weeks, vaulting the Illini ahead of other teams that have slipped.

4. Wisconsin Badgers

Record: 11-5 (3-3 B1G)

Next Game: vs Penn State

Last Ranking: 2

The Badgers are a weird team to rank. They lost twice this week, and one of them was an absolute embarrassment on the road against Indiana, but they were also ranked No. 18 in the country just last week. Wisconsin is a team that could find itself as high as three or as low as 12 in these rankings all season. They certainly aren’t playing well right now, though, and need to rebound from a tough week if they want to avoid slipping even further.

5. Iowa Hawkeyes 12-6 (4-3 B1G)

Record: 12-6 (4-3 B1G)

Next Game: vs Northwestern

Last Ranking: 12

Iowa has come storming back from an 0-3 start to conference play and now finds itself sitting pretty tied for the fourth-best conference record in the Big Ten. Kris Murray may not be quite as good as his brother, but man, those one-on-one matchups when they were kids must’ve been fun. Murray is averaging 21.2 points per game for a Hawkeyes team that has won by a nine point or larger margin in its past three games.

6. Michigan State Spartans

Record: 12-6 (4-3 B1G)

Next Game: vs Rutgers

Last Ranking: 7

We had the Spartans at seventh last week, and then they lost twice. One might argue it’s crazy to move them up a spot. However, Michigan State is still 4-3 in the conference and managed to hang with Purdue for the entire game Monday, eventually losing in a 64-63 thriller in East Lansing. The Spartans’ other loss came on the road against a streaking Illinois team. It’s hard to pan them for either loss in a conference with as much parity as this one.

7. Northwestern Wildcats

Record: 12-5 (3-3 B1G)

Next Game: at Iowa

Last Ranking: 5

Northwestern had a tough week, losing to Rutgers at home and Michigan on the road. It isn’t curtains on the Wildcat’s March hopes just yet, but the team cannot afford to string together any losses. Overall, the ‘Cats play really good defense, but they can’t score the basketball with any modicum of consistency, and it has hurt them.

8. Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 10-7 (2-4 B1G)

Next Game: at Nebraska

Last Ranking: 3

Ohio State had a horrendous week. First, they lost to a terrible Minnesota team at home. Then, they went to Rutgers and got beat there too. The Buckeyes are hard to figure out. They’re probably better than eighth in the conference, but the results have not been there since conference play started.

9. Michigan Wolverines

Record: 10-7 (4-2 B1G)

Next Game: at Maryland

Last Ranking: 10

The Wolverines lost to Iowa on Thursday, but rebounded on Sunday with an 85-78 victory over Northwestern. This isn’t a dominant Michigan team by any stretch of the margin, but it’s good enough to be relevant in the conference. Hunter Dickinson is still really good, and Jett Howard has been putting on a show as of late. The firepower is there.

10. Indiana Hoosiers

Record: 11-6 (2-4 B1G)

Next Game: at Illinois

Last Ranking: 9

Ahh, the Hoosiers. What in the world is going on? First, they lose to Northwestern. Then, they go on the road to Penn State, where they get humiliated by almost 20 points. Then, they beat a ranked Wisconsin team by 18? Indiana is the definition of impossible to rank. We should learn something this week, though, as they match up against Illinois and Michigan State.

11. Maryland Terrapins

Record: 11-6 (2-4 B1G)

Next Game: vs Michigan

Last Ranking: 8

This week was kind of a push for the Terps. Iowa did beat them on Sunday, but Iowa has been a tough matchup as of late. Compared to the rest of the conference, Maryland is a middling team on both ends of the floor. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Maryland could beat a lot of teams and also lose to a lot. It’s the Big Ten, anything can happen.

12. Penn State Nittany Lions

Record: 12-5 (3-3 B1G)

Next Game: at Wisconsin

Last Ranking: 11

Penn State only played once this week, but the Nittany Lions did all that they could in that one matchup to prove they’re better than people think. An 85-66 throttling of Indiana will help with that. Whether or not Indiana is actually a good team is up for debate, but regardless, this was an impressive upset by Penn State.

13. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Record: 9-9 (2-5 B1G)

Next Game: vs Ohio State

Last Ranking: 13

Only at the 13 position do we find the first truly bad team in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers just aren’t good. They’re the second-worst offensive team in the conference and they didn’t score more than 55 points in either game they played this week. It’s going to be a long season in Lincoln.

14. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Record: 7-9 (1-5 B1G)

Next Game: vs Purdue

Last Ranking: 14

The Gophers are also bad, but get the nod as the worst team in the conference due to a head to head loss against Nebraska. Minnesota is the worst offensive team in the conference and 11th in defense. That just about tells the whole story. Despite its inspired victory against Ohio State, this is the worst team in the conference.