The Big Ten currently has three teams tied for first place with Maryland, Wisconsin, and Michigan State all having 13-6 records at the very top of the league. Illinois trails shortly behind them with a 12-7 conference record.
In the next tier, seven teams have 9 to 11 wins in the season. The three headliners in the next tier include Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa. All of these teams are currently in the conversation for NCAA tournament consideration. Purdue is currently the only team on the outside looking in; however, their recent performances are giving them a much needed boost entering Selection Sunday.
At this point, the bottom three teams of Minnesota, Northwestern, and Nebraska can only advance to the dance by winning the Big Ten Tournament. Even Minnesota mathematically has no real option of getting an at-large bid. That being said, with a tough Big Ten conference, these three are still dangerous teams as the league travels to Indianapolis for the 2020 Big Ten Tournament.
March 6, 2020 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings
No. 14 Nebraska (7-23, 2-17 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last Week: Loss vs Northwestern 76-81(OT), Loss at Indiana 67-72
The losing streak extends to 15 for Nebraska after falling to Northwestern and No. 25 Michigan. It has been nearly two months since the Cornhuskers last won a game and they have just one more opportunity to get one in the regular season when they travel to Minnesota on Sunday.
No. 13 Northwestern (7-22, 2-17 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last Week: Win at Nebraska 81-76 (OT), Loss at #24 Wisconsin 63-48
The losing skid finally ended for Northwestern with their win against Nebraska on Sunday. However, they were unable to keep things close against Wisconsin and lost for the 22nd time this season. The Wildcats host No. 20 Penn State on Saturday for senior night with a chance to pull off a big upset heading to the conference tournament.
No. 12 Minnesota (13-16, 7-12 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last Week: Loss at Wisconsin 71-69, Loss at Indiana 67-72
Minnesota has now lost three-straight games after falling to Indiana on Wednesday. All three of those games could have gone the Gophers way, but they were unable to pull through in crunch time. They host Nebraska for their regular season finale on Sunday with a chance to find some momentum to make a push in the conference tournament.
No. 11 Indiana (19-11, 9-10 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last Week: Loss at Illinois 66-67, Win vs Minnesota 72-67
All things considered, Indiana did not have a bad week and played as expected, which is what they needed to do to keep their Tournament hopes alive. Brunk and TJD appear to be in full force again and will be a crucial duo to keep their push into March alive. Fortunately, their destiny is in their hands to make the Tournament and a win this Saturday will likely cement their place in the Tournament.
No. 10 Rutgers (19-11, 10-9 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last Week: Win vs #9 Maryland 78-67
Rutgers are still hanging on to their NCAA Tournament lives, but a win over Maryland was an important resume and confidence booster at this point in the season. Rutgers has one final match up on the road against Purdue, which has not been friendly to opposing teams.
No. 9 Purdue (16-14, 9-10 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last Week: Win at #18 Iowa 77-68
Don’t let the nine-point margin fool you. The Boilermakers dominated Iowa from the tip once again, this time in Iowa City. Sophomore guard Eric Hunter Jr. has developed into a nice player for Matt Painter; Hunter’s scored 18 PPG over his last two games. With a win on Saturday, Purdue would get to 10-10 in conference play, avoid playing on day 1 of the Big Ten Tournament, and bolster their NCAA Tournament case.
No. 8 Iowa (20-10, 11-8 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last Week: Win vs #16 Penn State 77-68, Win vs #16 Penn State 77-68, Loss vs Purdue 68-77
Iowa’s lack of consistency as of late is a concern, especially this time in the year. They can beat the best teams in the Big Ten, but then all of a sudden lose big to lower teams in the conference. For example, they have lost to Indiana, Nebraska and Purdue (2x) this season, but have beaten Wisconsin, Ohio State, Maryland and more. This may be more due to the Big Ten as a whole, but will be important to keep an eye on them as they can get overrun by lower teams.
No. 7 Penn State (21-9, 11-8 B1G)
Previous: No. 4; Last Week: Loss at #18 Iowa 68-77, Loss vs #16 Michigan State 79-71
While two single-digit losses to top-25 teams shouldn’t fire off alarms, Penn State was manhandled in the second half in Iowa City before blowing a 19-point lead in a home loss to MSU. They’ve become the streakiest team in the conference, as they also came back from a big deficit before losing at IU and gave up a 20+ point lead at home to Rutgers before winning. How will the Big Ten Tournament treat the volatile Nittany Lions?
No. 5 (Tie) Illinois (20-10, 12-7 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last Week: Win vs Indiana 67-66, Loss at #19 Ohio State 63-71
Illinois won as expected against Indiana and lost against Ohio State, but they have not appeared as dominant as in previous weeks. They need to tweak a few things before the Big Ten Tournament and push to get a share of the regular season title. Cockburn may be giving TJD a run for his Big Ten FOY award after his impact on the Illini.
No. 5 (Tie) Michigan (19-11, 10-9 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last Week: Loss at #23 Ohio State 63-77, Win vs Nebraska 82-58
Michigan is coming off of a tough loss at OSU but a solid home victory against Nebraska which guarantees that they won’t play day one of the Big Ten Tournament. Their next game is at College Park against a Maryland team who is definitely looking to seal the Big Ten regular season championship. If Michigan wins at Maryland, they would be heading into the Big Ten Tournament with another fantastic win under their belt. Michigan is also historically successful in the Big Ten Tournament. A win at Maryland could vault Michigan into the 4-7 seed conversation.
No. 4 Ohio State (21-9, 11-8 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last Week: Win vs #19 Michigan 77-63, Win vs #23 Illinois 71-63
It wasn’t even six weeks ago when Ohio State was going through a prolonged slump, saw highly-touted freshman D.J. Carton take a leave of absence, and suspended two key players. Now OSU has won nine of 11, and Chris Holtmann has his team playing great basketball into March. How about this matchup on Sunday: the #19 Buckeyes hit the road to take on #16 Michigan St.
No. 3 Maryland (23-7, 13-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Loss vs #24 Michigan State 66-78, Loss at Rutgers 67-78
Maryland most likely has to win at home against the Wolverines in order to secure the Big Ten regular season championship after hitting two speed bumps in MSU and Rutgers. Both teams shot above 40% from three against the Terrapins, and if Maryland does not close out quickly, Michigan will surely take advantage like we saw in their home game against the Hoosiers.
No. 2 Wisconsin (20-10, 13-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 2; Last Week: Win vs Minnesota 71-69, Win vs Northwestern 63-48
The Badgers are tied for first place with one more game to go in Bloomington. Since the departure of Kobe King, Wisconsin has turned around their season to become one of the best teams in the league. King was a major part of Wisconsin’s early victory over Indiana, so the match up will be very interesting for the Hoosiers’ senior day.
No. 1 Michigan State (21-9, 13-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: Win at #9 Maryland 78-66, Win at #20 Penn State 79-71
Michigan State is back, and they are on a roll at the perfect time. The Spartans got sweet revenge at Maryland, handing them their only home loss of the season so far. Furthermore, they then proceeded to win at Penn State, which is also highly difficult. This is why Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches in the country. Also, take a look at freshman Rocket Watts. He has significantly improved the last week, averaging 17.3 points per game the last 3 games, which were all against ranked opponents.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ