Conference play is in full swing, and things have gotten insane.
It was quite the week in the Big Ten as the conference’s top-two ranked teams suffered defeats. No. 1 Purdue fell to then-No. 9 Illinois 83-78, but Nebraska upset Purdue 88-72. These losses have certainly shaken up the current landscape of the Big Ten, so let’s explore where the conference’s power rankings currently stand.
1. No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers
Record: 14-2 (3-2 B1G)
Next Game: vs. Penn State
After an impressive 83-78 win against Illinois on Friday, Purdue followed that up with a disappointing outing on Tuesday night, losing 88-72 to Nebraska. Purdue was incredibly sloppy with the basketball against the Cornhuskers, committing a season-high 17 turnovers. Despite the loss, the Boilermakers still appear to be the team to beat in the conference, as it doesn’t appear that anyone in the Big Ten has found a way to contain the reigning John R. Wooden Award winner Zach Edey. The All-American has been masterful all season, averaging 22.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
2. No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers
Record: 11-3 (3-0 B1G)
Next Game: at Ohio State
Wisconsin stands as the lone undefeated team in conference play. mainly due to their offense, The Badgers have scored 80 or more points in three straight games, bringing back memories of the Bo Ryan era, The Badgers’ most recent 88-72 win on Saturday against Nebraska showcased the depth of Greg Gard’s squad, with the bench adding 36 points. The Badgers’ win over the Cornhuskers adds to their resume of quality wins this year, which features victories against Virginia, Michigan State, and Marquette. They will face another major test as they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State on Wednesday.
3. No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini
Record: 11-3 (2-1 B1G)
Next Game: vs. Michigan State
Even as All-American candidate Terrence Shannon Jr. remains away from the team, Illinois continues to demonstrate that it is one of the most talented teams in the country. With Shannon out of the lineup, Marcus Domask has taken a significant step forward. In the last two games, Domask is averaging 29 points per contest. Illinois will need other players on their roster to step up because it is unclear whether Shannon will step onto the court again this season.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
Record: 12-3 (2-2 B1G)
Next Game: vs Wisconsin
After a challenging 2022-23 season, the Buckeyes have rebounded strongly this year and appear to be one of the most formidable teams in the conference. Ohio State will continue to look to prove that it deserves a tournament bid on Wednesday night when they host Wisconsin at The Schottenstein Center. If the Buckeyes can secure a win over the Badgers, it would be a significant boost for their resume.
5. Northwestern Wildcats
Record: 11-3 (2-1 B1G)
Next Game: at Penn State
Northwestern boasts one of the most peculiar resumes in the country. The ‘Cats currently have wins over Purdue, Dayton, Arizona State, and Michigan State but also have one of the nation’s worst losses to Chicago State. While Northwestern is vying for its first-ever back-to-back March Madness appearances this year, it will be a tall task to overcome the Big Ten gauntlet that remains on its schedule. NU can continue to push its tournament hopes in the right direction on Saturday when it travels to Madison to take on Wisconsin in a massive conference showdown.
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Record: 13-3 (3-2)
Next Game: At Iowa
The one thing missing from Nebraska’s resume was a true quality win, and it finally secured it on Tuesday night when they knocked off No. 1 Purdue 88-72. The Cornhuskers’ performance against Purdue was an excellent follow-up to their 88-72 loss to Wisconsin, in which Fred Hoiberg’s squad came out flat. Hoiberg will now look to have his team ready to play a challenging road game against Iowa on Friday
7. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Record: 12-3 (3-1 B1G)
Next Game: At Indiana
After posting a 9-22 record last year, Minnesota has revitalized its program this season, already securing 12 wins with over two months remaining in the regular season. The Golden Gophers have one quality win this season, defeating Nebraska 76-65, and they face another significant opportunity on Friday when they visit Bloomington to take on Indiana. Minnesota will rely on a strong performance from its leading scorer Dawson Garcia, who is averaging 16.7 points per game, against the Hoosiers.
8. Indiana Hoosiers
Next Game: vs. Minnesota
It has been a mixed bag of results for the Hoosiers this season. Indiana does have a quality win over Ohio State but found itself on the wrong side of the scoreboard against a team lower on this list — Rutgers. Mike Woodson’s group lacks a strong nonconference win so having a strong conference performance is crucial if IU wants to reach the NCAA Tournament. However, Indiana cannot overlook Minnesota before welcoming Purdue to Assembly Hall next week.
9. Michigan State
Next Game: at Illinois
After an uncharacteristic opening game loss to James Madison, Tom Izzo’s team has struggled to bounce back and find success. The Spartans already suffered their third conference loss on Sunday, falling to Northwestern 88-74.
It’s hard to understand the lack of success Michigan State is experiencing, considering the rich talent on the roster, including Tyson Walker, who is averaging 20.6 points per game. Nevertheless, counting the legendary coach out would be foolish, as he always seems to pull things together once March rolls around.
10. Maryland Terrapins
Record: 9-6 (1-3 B1G)
Next Game: vs. Michigan
Maryland has already suffered a couple of brutal losses this year, falling to Davidson in its second game and losing its third contest to UAB. Since those early-season setbacks, the Terrapins have continued to be underwhelming but have managed to close out games against weaker opponents without any issues. While securing a tournament bid may seem like an uphill battle for Maryland, it’s hard to count them out. With an elite scorer in Jahmir Young, who can erupt at any moment, it will be interesting to see if Kevin Willard can find success with the Terrapins this year.
11. Iowa Hawkeyes
Record: 9-6 (1-3 B1G)
Next Game: vs. Nebraska
After a rough three-game losing streak that dropped Iowa to 5-5 earlier in the season, the Hawkeyes have bounced back robustly, winning four out of their last five games. The recent success of the Hawkeyes can largely be attributed to their offense, leading the Big Ten with 86.7 points per game.
However, despite Iowa’s potent scoring attack, its struggles this year are linked to its difficulty guarding opponents. The Hawkeyes rank second to last in the Big Ten, allowing 77.6 points per game. If Fran McCaffery doesn’t find a way for his team to stop Big Ten opponents, it could be a challenging stretch in conference play for the Hawkeyes.
12. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Record: 9-6 (1-3 B1G)
Next Game: at Michigan State
Rutgers has encountered immense challenges in scoring this year, ranking dead last in the Big Ten with an average of 68.5 points per game. However, on the flip side, it has proven to be an elite defensive team, anchored by Clifford Omoruyi, who ranks third in the country with 3.4 blocks per game. Omoruyi and Rutgers will have their work cut out on Sunday when the Scarlet Knights travel to East Lansing for a matchup with Michigan State. A victory against Tom Izzo’s squad could potentially be a season-changing moment for Rutgers.
13. Penn State Nittany Lions
Record: 8-7 (2-2 B1G)
Next Game: vs Northwestern
In his first season at Penn State, Mike Rhoades has struggled to find rhythm with the Nittany Lions. Rhoades has been getting strong play out of Kanye Clark, who leads the team with 18.4 points per game. However, the lack of depth surrounding Clark hinders the Nittany Lions’ success. Rhoades will have his work cut out for him as he looks to find the success that Micah Shrewsberry found in Happy Valley.
14. Michigan Wolverines
Record: 6-9 (1-3 B1G)
Next Game: at Maryland
Fortunately for Michigan fans, Jim Harbaugh secured the school’s first national championship since 1997. However, on the downside, the Wolverines’ basketball season is nearing rock bottom.
After starting the year with a 3-0 record, Juwan Howard’s team has slipped to 6-9 and is currently on a four-game losing streak, including a disappointing 87-76 loss to McNeese. The remainder of the season looks challenging for the Wolverines unless they address their defensive issues, as they currently rank last in the Big Ten, allowing an average of 78.7 points per game.