The story continues to be eleven Big Ten conference teams featured in this year’s big dance — with the exceptions coming from Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern. Among teams in the Big Ten, Purdue and Indiana are the ones squarely on the bubble, with Indiana being on the right side and Purdue now falling off on the wrong side.
Wisconsin and Michigan are two teams trending up in the league. Along with Maryland and Iowa, they were the only teams to win both of their games this week. Michigan’s high power offense took down the Scarlet Knights on the road, a place where no other team has won this season. Perhaps the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis will be one of the best postseason conference tournaments in recent Division I memory.
February 21, 2020 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings
No. 14 Northwestern (6-19, 1-14 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last Week: Loss at #13 Penn St. 61-77, Loss at #7 Maryland 67-76
Northwestern dropped their 10th straight game after falling to Penn State and Maryland. The Wildcats have winnable games remaining, but they are going to need the entire team playing at their highest level to pull off upsets against the league.
No. 13 Nebraska (7-19, 2-13 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last Week: Loss vs. Wisconsin 64-81, Loss vs. Indiana 56-68
Nebraska continues to fall hard after losing by double digits to both Wisconsin and Michigan State. The Cornhuskers go on the road to Illinois and then return home to play No.25 Ohio State for their next two matchups. Fred Hoiberg’s team sits second to last in the conference and would play on the first day of the conference tournament. They can use their remaining games to get out of the bottom and salvage the remaining season.
No. 12 Minnesota (12-13, 6-9 B1G)
Previous: No. 12; Last Week: Loss vs. #21 Iowa 55-58, Loss vs. Indiana 56-68
After their double digit loss to the Hoosiers, Minnesota has now dropped three straight games. They currentyl sit 12th in the conference standings but still have a chance to get out of the bottom four spots. This week the Golden Gophers travel to Northwestern and host No.7 Maryland. Leading scorers, Daniel Oturu and Marcus Carr need some help if Minnesota plans to pick up these two wins. .
No. 11 Purdue (14-13, 7-9 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last Week: Loss at Ohio St. 52-68, Loss at Wisconsin 65-69
Since winning at Indiana on Feb. 8, Purdue has not only dropped three straight, but also has led for just 16 seconds combined over those three games. Matt Painter has changed the starting lineup, swapping in Matt Haarms and Jahaad Proctor in for Sasha Stefanovic and Trevion Williams. A big week awaits the Boilermakers, who are on the bubble and have home contests against Michigan and Indiana.
No. 10 Indiana (17-9, 7-8 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last Week: Loss at Michigan 65-89, Win at Minnesota 68-56
Fighting to make its way into the field, Indiana will continue to fight another day in their upcoming game at home against Penn State. The victory at Minnesota was not the prettiest and Minnesota did more to lose the game than Indiana did to win it at times, but the Hoosiers, especially Trayce Jackson-Davis, made the later part of the game difficult for the Golden Gophers. Indiana needs to win out at home and they should be in.
No. 9 Ohio State (17-9, 7-8 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last Week: Win vs. Purdue 68-52, Loss at #20 Iowa 76-85
The magic number for the Buckeyes is 75. This season, Ohio State has not won a game when they’ve given up at least that amount. On Thursday night, Iowa scored 85 in their win over Chris Holtmann’s crew. Role players C.J. Walker, E.J. Liddell, and Duane Washington Jr. each had impressive games in Iowa City. The only Top 25 matchup in the Big Ten this weekend is #7 Maryland at #25 OSU, at 4 p.m. ET, on Sunday, on CBS.
No. 8 Rutgers (18-9, 9-7 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last Week: Win vs. #22 Illinois 72-57, Loss vs. Michigan 52-60
The Scarlet Knights are finally vulnerable at home. After an impressive undefeated season in the RAC, Rutgers gets their first loss at home to Juwan Howard’s Michigan team that is trending way up within the conference. Rutgers needs to be careful because their road record is going to be questioned going into Selection Sunday.
No. 6 (Tie) Wisconsin (16-10, 9-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last Week: Win at Nebraska 81-64, Win vs. Purdue 69-65
Wisconsin earns yet another Quadrant I victory, which means they currently sit at 7-8 in Quadrant I games. The Badgers do not have any bad losses as their early season losses have moved to Quadrant I or Quadrant II. The Badgers have a very impressive resume on paper and they are also one of the teams trending up in the conference.
No. 6 (Tie) Michigan State (18-9, 10-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: Loss vs. #9 Maryland 60-67, Win at Nebraska 86-65
After winning a nail-biter in Illinois, MSU had a critical home matchup against the surging Terrapins. If the Spartans defeated Maryland, it would be safe to say that they’re easily back in the race for the Big Ten title. Unfortunately, the Spartans lost, allowing the Terrapins to separate themselves even further from the pack. The Spartans still have a chance to win the Big Ten title; however, they face four tough teams in their remaining schedule: vs Iowa, @ Maryland, @ Penn State, and vs Ohio State. If MSU wins three of these next four games, specifically the game at College Park, they have a chance winning the title.
No. 5 Michigan (17-9, 8-7 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last Week: Win vs. Indiana 89-65, Win at Rutgers 60-52
Finally someone defeated Rutgers in the RAC and unexpectedly, it was Michigan. Prior to upsetting the Scarlet Knights, the Wolverines came off of an inspirational shooting performance against an abysmal Indiana defense. Michigan ended up shooting above 50% from deep against the Hoosiers. Although Michigan’s three point shooting was miserable against Rutgers, they still found a way to win. In order for the Wolverines to make some noise, they still need Isaiah Livers back, however.
No. 4 Iowa (19-8, 10-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last Week: Win at Minnesota 58-55, Win vs. #25 Ohio St. 85-76
Solid week for the Hawkeyes who were taking a recent skid. Luka Garza is the obvious front-runner for Big Ten POY, and we will see if a single-person team will be enough for the Hawkeyes to remain in contention for the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. They close out the year with four tough games against teams that are in or on the bubble of making the Tournament.
No. 3 Illinois (17-9, 9-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last Week: Loss at Rutgers 57-72, Win at #9 Penn St. 62-56
Illinois lost 4 of their last 5 and had a great win at Penn State to salvage this skid. A game against Nebraska and Northwestern will help elongate this win streak out to 3, but they have another 3 tough games at the end of the season in hopes to boost their resume before the Tournament.
No. 2 Penn State (19-5, 9-4 B1G)
Previous: No. 2; Last Week: Win vs. Northwestern 77-61, Loss vs. Illinois 56-62
After recording an 8th straight win last Saturday, reaching 20 victories in the process, Penn State dropped a physical home contest to Illinois. In the defeat, PSU shot 4-for-19 beyond the arc. The Nittany Lions bring a 4-game road winning streak (at MICH, at NEB, at MSU, and at PUR) to Bloomington on Sunday.
No. 1 Maryland (22-4, 12-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last Week: Win at Michigan St. 67-60, Win vs. Northwestern 76-67
There’s no question Maryland is the best team in the Big Ten at the moment. The Terrapins also won at MSU, who prior to facing the Terrapins won an intense game at Illinois. But MSU’s momentum didn’t affect Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan Jr., who are clearly two stars who have NCAA championship goals in sight. This team can definitely make a final four run.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ