Let’s give the Big Ten’s players, coaches, and staff credit. The conference completed its regular season on Sunday, playing a higher percentage of scheduled games than any other “Power Five” league.
March 8, 2021 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings
No. 14 Nebraska (7-19, 3-16 B1G)
Previous: No. 14; Last: Win against Minnesota 78-74, Win against Rutgers 72-51, Loss at No. 5 Iowa 102-64, Loss at Northwestern 79-78
After getting obliterated by nearly 40 points to No. 5 Iowa the Cornhuskers would then lose in heartbreaking fashion to Northwestern. Nebraska is the last seed in the B1G and is looking for a Cinderella story for the ages.
No. 13 Minnesota (13-14, 6-14 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last: Loss at Nebraska 78-74, Loss at Penn State 84-65, Loss against Rutgers 77-70 (OT)
This may be Pitino’s last season in Minneapolis as the Gophers have struggled immensely this half of the season to gain any momentum. There was a point the Gophers were highly ranked, but now they have lost seven in a row including games against Nebraska, Northwestern, and Penn State.
No. 12 Northwestern (9-14, 6-13 B1G)
Previous: No. 13; Last: Win against Maryland 60-55, Win against Nebraska 79-78
The Wildcats have now won 3 straight games and, although they are at the bottom of the conference, have started playing their best ball all year. Since it’s March anything can happen…right?
No. 11 Penn State (9-13, 6-12 B1G)
Previous: No. 11; Last: Loss against Purdue 73-52, Win against Minnesota 84-65, Win at Maryland 66-61
No one’s going to look at Penn State’s record and heap the Nittany Lions with a lot of praise, but interim coach Jim Ferry did a more than serviceable job with this team in Happy Valley. There might still be more to come. PSU came back from double digits to win at Maryland on Sunday, and, assuming a win over Nebraska, should feel like they have a decent chance to beat Wisconsin on Thursday.
No. 10 Indiana (12-14, 7-12 B1G)
Previous: No. 10; Last: Loss against No. 3 Michigan 73-57, Loss at Michigan State 64-58, Loss at No. 23 Purdue 67-58
Indiana is in an absolute state of disarray. Archie’s seat is hotter than ever and if his buyout was not as high as it is, he’d be out this year for sure. There still is a chance, but it is not guaranteed. The Hoosiers will need to come together for a strong final push in the conference tournament to stand a chance in getting an invite to the Big Dance, but at this rate, it does not look likely.
No. 9 Maryland (15-11, 9-10 B1G)
Previous: No. 8; Last: Win against Michigan State 73-55, Loss at Northwestern 60-55, Loss against Penn State 66-61
Really, Maryland? The Terps seemed to have locked up an NCAA Tourney bid, but choking away a 16-point lead on Senior Day to Penn State puts them on thinner ice going into the Big Ten Tournament. A loss to Michigan State on Thursday will make the days leading up to Selection Sunday feel like weeks or months.
No. 8 Rutgers (14-10, 10-10 B1G)
Previous: No. 9; Last: Loss at Nebraska 72-51, Win at Minnesota 77-70 (OT)
Rutgers was able to pick up their final win of the regular season as they defeated Minnesota in overtime. Throughout the course of the year they have looked both really good and really bad. Which version will show up on Thursday against Indiana?
No. 7 Michigan State (15-11, 9-11 B1G)
Previous: No. 7; Last: Loss at Maryland 73-55, Win against Indiana 64-58, Loss at No. 2 Michigan 69-50, Win against No. 2 Michigan 70-64
Michigan State proved once again they deserve to be in the Tournament as split the series with Michigan 1-1. Don’t bet against Tom Izzo and Co. come the NCAA Tournament as they are peaking at the right time this season.
No. 6 Wisconsin (16-11, 10-10 B1G)
Previous: No. 5; Last: Loss at No. 5 Illinois 74-69, Loss at No. 23 Purdue 73-69, Loss No. 5 Iowa 77-73
Wisconsin limped to the finish line of the regular-season, losing five of their last six games. The Badgers began the year red hot but seemed to hit a wall at the end of January and had an abysmal February. Despite UW’s struggles of the late, the Badgers are still ranked in the top 30 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Yet, a few victories in the Big Ten Tournament would go a long way in boosting Badger fans’ confidence.
No. 5 Purdue (18-8, 13-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 6; Last: Win at Penn State 73-52, Win against No. 25 Wisconsin 73-69, Win against Indiana 67-58
With a decisive victory over rival Indiana, Purdue finished their regular season in style. Having low expectations coming into the season, the Boilermakers were a pleasant surprise in the Big Ten this year and are clearly a difficult out. Slated as a projected #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten Conference Tournament is nothing more than a formality for Matt Painter’s crew.
No. 4 Iowa (20-7, 14-6 B1G)
Previous: No. 4; Last: Win at No. 4 Ohio State 73-57, Win against Nebraska 102-64, Win against No. 25 Wisconsin 77-73
The Hawkeyes have started to play better defense and it has shown. Now, they have won 7 of their last 8 games with their sole loss at No. 3 Michigan and look to be peaking at the right time this season too. They have a chance in pulling off a conference tournament victory and make a deep run in the Dance behind Luka Garza.
No. 3 Ohio State (18-8, 12-8 B1G)
Previous: No. 2; Last: Loss against No. 9 Iowa 73-57, Loss against No. 4 Illinois 73-68
The Buckeyes had lost just four games up to February 20. They’ve lost all four contests since. They’ve played the worst per possession defense in the Big Ten during that stretch, so they’ll have to get better at that end of the floor. The Buckeyes are still slated as a 2-seed and are 7th in KenPom.
No. 2 Michigan (19-3, 14-3 B1G)
Previous: No. 1; Last: Win at Indiana 73-57, Loss against No. 4 Illinois 76-53, Win against Michigan State 69-50, Loss at Michigan State 70-64
Michigan at the moment is a great team, but they are not playing to the level that Illinois is currently at and that was evident in the blow out loss to the Illini this week. They also split the games against Michigan State 1-1. Michigan needs to win the Big Ten Tournament to get a No. 1 seed most likely, at least make the finals.
No. 1 Illinois (20-6, 16-4 B1G)
Previous: No. 3; Last: Win at No. 23 Wisconsin 74-69, Win at No. 2 Michigan 76-53, Win at No. 7 Ohio State 73-68
Illinois is maybe the hottest team in the country. Winning 10 of their last 11 games and despite Ayo’s injury, they still beat Michigan by 23 points last week. They have the inside track towards a No. 1 Tournament seed.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ