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Big Ten women’s basketball power rankings, seventh edition

A clash of the titans awaits.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Championship-Iowa vs Indiana Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

As the calendar has turned to February, we are starting to see some clarity in the Big Ten women’s basketball hierarchy. Teams are starting to assert themselves as contenders or pretenders, and teams are gearing up for their push towards March. There is sure to be some chaos in the next couple weeks as the conference’s powerhouses face off, starting with a clash between number one and number two in these rankings Thursday in Iowa City. Now onto the rankings, which saw consistency at the top and bottom but some reshuffling in the middle of the pack.

1. No. 4 Indiana Hoosiers

Record: 22-1 (12-1 B1G)

Next Game: at No. 6 Iowa

Last Ranking: 1

The Hoosiers continued to steamroll their way through their Big Ten schedule last week, knocking off Minnesota and Purdue by 23 points apiece. They have won seven consecutive games by at least nine points, and ten in a row overall since their lone slip up against Michigan State on Dec. 29. Their end of season schedule is brutal however, with four out of their last five contests coming against teams ranked in the top 20. Therefore, the Hoosiers still have a long way to go in their quest for the program’s first ever outright Big Ten regular season title.

2. No. 6 Iowa Hawkeyes

Record: 19-4 (11-1 B1G)

Next Game: at No. 4 Indiana

Last Ranking: 2

Caitlin Clark is on another planet right now. The Hawkeyes’ guard posted an insane 42 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in a 96-82 win over Maryland, and followed that up with her ninth career triple double in Iowa’s romp against Penn State on Sunday. There simply are not many teams that can come close to keeping up with the Hawkeyes offensively, who lead the country with a whopping 88 points per game. Their offense will be put to the test on Thursday, though, against an Indiana team which leads the Big Ten in scoring defense.

3. No. 8 Maryland Terrapins

Record: 19-5 (10-3 B1G)

Next Game: at Northwestern

Last Ranking: 3

The Terps fell to Iowa on Thursday, but had a phenomenal bounce back performance on Sunday against Ohio State. Maryland beat the Buckeyes by 36 points, buoyed by 29 points and 10 rebounds from standout guard Diamond Miller. Miller’s scoring output is up almost six points a game from last season, and her performance is a big reason why the Terps are sitting comfortably in the top tier of the conference.

4. No. 18 Michigan Wolverines

Record: 19-5 (9-4 B1G)

Next Game: vs Nebraska

Last Ranking: 5

Michigan moves up a spot this week after taking care of business against Illinois and Michigan State. The Wolverines have been very good this season about beating the teams they are supposed to beat, as they have lost only one game to an unranked opponent all year. Senior guard Leigha Brown has exploded in recent games for Michigan with three consecutive 20+ point performances.

5. No. 10 Ohio State

Record: 20-4 (9-4 B1G)

Next Game: vs Minnesota

Last Ranking: 4

It is very much time to panic in Columbus. The Buckeyes continue their fall down the rankings this week after getting absolutely annihilated in a 36-point loss to Maryland on Sunday. Ohio State has lost four out of five games dating back to January 29, including all three against ranked opponents. Up until the beginning of February, the Buckeyes looked like definitive title contenders, but they have looked a step slower than teams at the top of the conference in recent weeks.

6. Purdue Boilermakers

Record: 15-7 (6-6 B1G)

Next Game: at Rutgers

Last Ranking: 7

Purdue had a three-game winning streak snapped on Sunday against Indiana, but losing to the Hoosiers is nothing to be ashamed of. This three-game roll included wins over Illinois and Ohio State, so the Boilermakers are proving they belong in the top half of the conference. Purdue has some good opportunities to pick up some more victories coming up, as each of its next three games are against unranked opponents.

7. Illinois Fighting Illini

Record: 18-6 (8-5 B1G)

Next Game: at Nebraska

Last Ranking: 6

Despite a loss to Michigan on Thursday, Illinois still finds itself in a good position to make the NCAA Tournament, which would be a remarkable accomplishment for first-year head coach Shauna Green. The Illini’s resurgence has been due in large part to some stellar three point shooting, as they lead the conference with a 38% shooting clip from beyond the arc. However, relying on the three can backfire when the shots are not falling, as they found out in that loss to Michigan in which they shot just 6-of-24 from outside.

8. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Record: 13-9 (5-6 B1G)

Next Game: vs. Northwestern

Last Ranking: 8

Nebraska played just once this week, knocking off Michigan State by four. The Cornhuskers have proved they can play with the top teams in the conference, beating Maryland, taking Indiana to overtime and only losing to Iowa by four, but have not demonstrated enough consistency to vault themselves into the top half of the standings. However, a favorable schedule in the coming weeks should give them an opportunity to make the jump.

9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Record: 10-14 (4-8 B1G)

Next Game: vs. Purdue

Last Ranking: 11

Rutgers takes the title of “top of the bottom” this week. The Scarlet Knights have won two of their past three games, including a six-point win over Wisconsin on Sunday. Rutgers has been a streaky team this season, sandwiching stretches of good play between numerous blowout losses. The schedule is relatively favorable to close the year, so it will look to finish the season on a high note.

10. Penn State Nittany Lions

Record: 13-11 (4-9 B1G)

Next Game: at Michigan State

Last Ranking: 9

The Nittany Lions had a very up and down week last week. The knocked off Northwestern on Thursday, but followed that up by getting thoroughly obliterated by Iowa. The Nittany Lions shot just 27.4% from the field and gave up 95 points in the loss to the Hawkeyes, so they will need to do all they can to erase that game from their memory. A game against Michigan State next Sunday should provide a good opportunity for Penn State to bounce back.

11. Michigan State Spartans

Record: 11-12 (3-9 B1G)

Next Game: vs Wisconsin

Last Ranking: 10

Not much has gone right for the Spartans in recent weeks. Michigan State has lost six of its past seven games, including defeats last week at the hands of Nebraska and Michigan. A bright spot for Michigan State has been sophomore guard Matilda Ekh, who scored in double digits in both games last week and ranks third in the Big Ten with a 40.4% three-point percentage.

12. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Record: 9-14 (2-10 B1G)

Next Game: at Ohio State

Last Ranking: 12

Minnesota has lost four games in a row, and has only won one game since Dec. 30. The biggest issue for the Gophers recently has been their offense, as they have failed to score more than 62 points in any game during this recent skid. Minnesota needs to get their offense back to the level it was at during the beginning of conference play in order to finish the season strong.

13. Wisconsin Badgers

Record: 7-17 (2-10 B1G)

Next Game: vs. Michigan State

Last Ranking: 13

With the resurgence of Illinois, the Badgers are now the token mainstay at the bottom of the Big Ten. They have not had a winning season since 2010, and this season is no different. Wisconsin has not won a conference game since Jan. 11, including losses against fellow bottom dwellers Northwestern and Rutgers. However, four out of their last five games are against teams in the bottom five of the conference, so there is still an opportunity for the Badgers to match their total of five conference wins from 2021-22.

14. Northwestern Wildcats

Record: 8-14 (1-10 B1G)

Next Game: vs. Nebraska

Last Ranking: 14

Northwestern remains at the bottom of the Big Ten, falling in its only game this week against Penn State. However, a bright spot in this down season for the ‘Cats has been the emergence of junior forward Paige Mott. She had 12 points against Penn State, and has scored in double digits in five consecutive games. The Wildcats play only one ranked team the rest of the year, so there is a great opportunity to make a jump in the standings before the regular season ends.