It’s the final February edition of our Big Ten power rankings, and the past week in the conference definitely led to a shake-up in how the teams are positioned. Michigan State had a massive week, taking down Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio St., while the Hoosiers and Gophers have some soul-searching to do after a rough week. The Big Ten Tournament starts in less than two weeks in Indianapolis. How do the teams shape up at this point?
February 26, 2021 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings
No. 14 Nebraska (5-17, 1-14 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last: Loss against Purdue 75-58, Loss against Penn State 86-83, Loss at No. 5 Illinois 70-86
Three more losses for Fred Hoiberg’s bunch, and after Northwestern’s win, the Huskers are all but guaranteed another last-place finish in the league. One bright spot all season has been Teddy Allen, who had a mind-boggling 41 points, eight rebounds, and six assists against Penn St. on Tuesday. The only other power conference guys to put up those numbers in the last decade? Ben Simmons, Buddy Hield, and Trae Young. His 28 first-half points were also a school record.
No. 13 Northwestern (7-14, 4-13 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last: Loss against No. 21 Wisconsin 68-51, Win at Minnesota 67-59
The Wildcats won! The Wildcats won! Thanks to 25 points from Boo Buie, Northwestern ended a 13-game losing streak on Thursday night, getting their first win of 2021. They basically extinguished Minnesota’s tournament hopes, and the Wildcats could put a dent in Maryland’s on Wednesday.
No. 12 Minnesota (13-11, 6-11 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last: Loss against No. 5 Illinois 94-63, Loss against Northwestern 59-67
Minnesota had arguably one of the worst losses of the season with a loss to Northwestern who were on a 10+ loss streak. Minnesota need to win a few more to stand a chance to make the postseason.
No. 11 Penn State (8-12, 5-11 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last: Loss at No. 11 Iowa 74-68, Win at Nebraska 86-83
Penn St. avenged their earlier loss to Nebraska on Tuesday, getting a career-high 29 points from Myreon Jones. The Nittany Lions are still on the outside looking in as far as March Madness is concerned. However, they are actually ranked one spot higher than Indiana in the KenPom ratings.
No. 10 Indiana (12-11, 7-9 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last: Loss against Michigan State 78-71, Loss at Rutgers 74-63
Indiana continues its downward trajectory as the regular season draws to a close. After defeating Minnesota by 10 points, IU let two first half leads slip away against Michigan State and Rutgers resulting in back-to-back losses. As of Thursday night, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Hoosiers on the bubble as one of the last four into the tournament. Indiana hosts Michigan on Saturday for Senior Day and then travel to Michigan State and Purdue to finish the regular season schedule. If the Hoosiers lose their remaining games, it will most likely be the fifth-straight season IU will not be in the NCAA Tournament. That has not happened at Indiana since the span of 1968-1972.
No. 9 Rutgers (13-9, 9-9 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last: Loss against Maryland 68-59, Win against Indiana 74-63
Rutgers had somewhat of a successfully week as they were able to defeat the Hoosiers on senior night but could not defeat Maryland. Ron Harper Jr. ad Geo Baker continue to cause problems for opposing defenses. 1-1 on the week with important games coming up against Nebraska and Minnesota to close out their season.
No. 8 Maryland (14-10, 8-9 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last: Win at Rutgers 68-59
Maryland pulled off a unique achievement on Sunday. Their win over Rutgers represented their fourth win in a seven-day span. Only Michigan has a longer winning streak in the league. Don’t look now, but Maryland will almost certainly be favorites in their final three games as well.
No. 7 Michigan State (13-9, 7-9 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last: Win at Indiana 78-71, Win against No. 5 Illinois 81-72, Win against No. 4 Ohio State 71-67
We have officially entered Izzo season. Michigan State is now poised to make the Tournament and have beaten both Illinois and Ohio State this week leaving little doubt they deserve a Tournament berth.
No. 6 Purdue (15-8, 10-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last: Win at Nebraska 75-58
Purdue continues to dominate the bottom half of the Big Ten, taking down Nebraska this week. The Boilermakers pulled away in the second half, largely thanks to a 15 point performance by star freshman Jaden Ivey. Matt Painter’s team continues to be ranked in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Next up, Purdue faces Penn State and Wisconsin.
No. 5 Wisconsin (16-8, 10-7 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last: Win at Northwestern 68-51
Wisconsin got a temporary reprieve from their downward spiral with a desperately needed victory this week against Northwestern, handing the Wildcats their 13th straight loss. After an abysmal performance against Michigan last week, Micah Potter seems to have regained his confidence, posting 19 points, eight rebounds, and three assists against Northwestern. Unfortunately, there is no rest for the weary Badgers as they have to finish the season with games against Illinois, Purdue, and Iowa.
No. 4 Iowa (17-7, 11-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 4; Last: Win against Penn State 74-68, Loss at No. 3 Michigan 57-79
Iowa snapped its four game winning streak after falling to Michigan 79-57 on Thursday night. The Hawkeyes are now fourth in the conference standings and with three games remaining, it will be difficult for them to try for a regular championship. However, with the offensive firepower Iowa is capable of, the Hawkeyes will be a formidable foe in postseason play.
No. 3 Illinois (16-6, 12-4 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last: Win at Minnesota 94-63, Loss at Michigan State 81-72, Win against Nebraska 86-70
Illinois went 2-3 this past week with its lone loss being on the road against Michigan State. The loss was the Fighting Illini’s first in eight games. The final stretch will not be easy for Illinois as it will travel to Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State to finish the regular season. Each game will have a crucial role in determining who wins the regular season Big Ten title.
No. 2 Ohio State (18-6, 12-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last: Loss against No. 3 Michigan 92-87, Loss at Michigan State 67-71
For the first time all season, the Buckeyes have dropped consecutive games. The bad news for Chris Holtmann is that the slump may continue, with Iowa and Illinois looming to wrap up the regular season.
No. 1 Michigan (17-1, 12-1 B1G)
Previous: No. 2; Last: Win at No. 4 Ohio State 92-87, Win against No. 9 Iowa 79-57
Michigan has proved time and time again they are the best team in the conference. The biggest concern on the season was their prolonged absence from play, but they have returned and beat Ohio State and Iowa reasonably comfortably as well. Hunter Dickenson is the obvious front runner for Freshman of the Year in the conference. The big question is whether they can make a deep Tournament run at this point.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ