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Week 23 Big Ten basketball power rankings: Penn State skyrockets

The Nittany Lions are on the rise after a fantastic week. Meanwhile, Iowa stays put.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa
The Hawkeyes stayed put in this week’s power rankings at No. 3.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, more chaos in the Big Ten. Tuesday was a prime example of that, as Maryland barely survived against Nebraska at home and Illinois almost toppled Michigan State in Champaign.

Meanwhile, Penn State keeps on winning. The Nittany Lions have now won their last seven games, and there’s no reason to think that streak is stopping this weekend, as Penn State hosts Northwestern.

Here’s a quick look at which teams had the biggest rise and fall in this week’s power rankings:

Biggest jump — Penn State (+3 spots)

Biggest drop — Minnesota (-3 spots)

Without further ado, here’s the Week 23 edition of the Big Ten basketball power rankings.

No. 14 — Nebraska

7-17, 2-11 in the Big Ten, no change in the rankings from last week

What’s new? Well, more losses. Nebraska lost by 24 to Iowa before giving Maryland a run for its money on Tuesday.

Reason for the ranking: Yes, the loss to Maryland was close, and Nebraska almost pulled it off. But I’m not moving the Huskers up for almost winning.

No. 13 — Northwestern

6-17, 1-12 in the Big Ten, no change

What’s new? Northwestern played two game since last week’s power rankings, losing to both Rutgers and Michigan.

Reason for the ranking: Maybe some day the Wildcats will get their second Big Ten win. Don’t hold your breath, though.

No. 12 — Indiana

15-8, 5-7 in the Big Ten, no change

What’s new? Bob Knight returned to Assembly Hall at halftime of Indiana’s game against Purdue on Feb. 8, so that was pretty cool. But the Hoosiers committed 14 turnovers and lost by 12. Not cool.

Reason for the ranking: Y’all couldn’t win with Bob Knight in the house? Shame on you, Indiana.

No. 11 — Minnesota

12-11, 6-7 in the Big Ten, -3 spots

What’s new? Minnesota lost to a hot Penn State team 83-77 on Feb. 8. The Gophers have nearly the entire week off, with their next game coming against Iowa on Feb. 16.

Reason for the ranking: Minnesota had four consecutive games against teams with conference records better than .500, and it lost all but one.

No. 10 — Michigan

15-9, 6-7 in the Big Ten, +1 spot

What’s new? Michigan beat cellar-dweller Northwestern Wednesday. Before that, the Wolverines took down Michigan State — a big time win for a team trying to find its identity.

Reason for the ranking: That win over Michigan State sure looked nice. The Wolverines, after a disastrous four-game losing stretch earlier this year, have won four of their last five.

No. 9— Ohio State

16-8, 6-7 in the Big Ten, +1

What’s new? The Buckeyes split their last two games since the latest power rankings. Ohio State lost to Wisconsin on Feb. 9, but bounced back, taking down Rutgers on Wednesday.

Reason for the ranking: Ohio State has won four of its last five games. The Buckeyes might mess around and make some noise to close out the season.

No. 8 — Purdue

14-11, 7-7 in the Big Ten, -1 spot

What’s new? Purdue beat Indiana 74-62 on Feb, 8 before falling to Penn State 88-76 on Tuesday. The Boilermakers went dry from 3-point range, making just four of their 17 attempts in the loss.

Reason for the ranking: Hit-or-miss Purdue was all miss against Penn State. Granted, the Nittany Lions are arguably the conference’s hottest group, but the Boilermakers squandered a three-game losing streak in the process. If Purdue can consistently put together performances like it did against Iowa on Feb. 5, this team is dangerous.

No. 7 — Wisconsin

14-10, 7-6 in the Big Ten, +2 spots

What’s new? Wisconsin beat Ohio State with ease, coming out on top 70-57. The Badgers held the Buckeyes to 36.7 percent shooting en route to holding their eighth opponent to fewer than 60 points this season.

Reason for the ranking: Ohio State was quietly making up ground in the Big Ten before Wisconsin took care of business. Not a bad win at all for the Badgers.

No. 6 — Rutgers

17-8, 8-6 in the Big Ten, no change

What’s new? Rutgers narrowly escaped Northwestern at home on Feb. 9 and lost to Ohio State in Columbus on Wednesday. The Scarlet Knights are 1-6 in true road contest this season.

Reason for the ranking: Rutgers is a decent team, but it’s not a top-five team in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights need to win a few conference games on the road to be in the consideration.

No. 5 — Illinois

16-8, 8-5 in the Big Ten, -1 spot

What’s new? Illinois lost to Maryland and Michigan State since the last power rankings. Ayo Dosunmu got hurt in the loss to the Spartans, but luckily an MRI revealed no structural damage in his knee.

Reason for the ranking: Losses to Iowa, Maryland, and Michgian State cemented Illinois in this spot. The Illini are solid, but in their games against the conference’s top teams, they just aren’t there.

No. 4 — Michigan State

17-8, 9-5 in the Big Ten, -2 spots

What’s new? Well, Michigan State fell in a baaad loss to Michigan on Feb. 8 before somehow pulling out a win against Illinois on Tuesday.

Reason for the ranking: The Michigan game was bad. So were the two losses before it. The Spartans bounced back against the Illini, but it’s clear Michigan State isn’t the world-beater many predicted to start the season. I also said a few weeks ago that there was a chance Michigan State might end up winning every remaining game on its regular season schedule, so here’s where I admit that I was wrong on that one.

No. 3 — Iowa

17-7, 8-5 in the Big Ten, no change

What’s new? Iowa flushed a disgusting loss to Purdue with a blowout win over Nebraska. The 24-point beatdown was a feel-good game for the Hawkeyes.

Reason for the ranking: The win over Nebraska was great... but it was Nebraska. If anything, Iowa showed great ability to completed wipe away any memories of that disastrous outing in West Lafayette.

No. 2 — Penn State

19-5, 9-4 in the Big Ten, +3 spots

What’s new? The Nittany Lions are on fire. Penn State took care of both Minnesota and Purdue, as it should have.

Reason for the ranking: Penn State doesn’t care who it plays — it just wins. The Nittany Lions looked sharp in their last two games, and only Maryland has won as many games in a row (seven).

No. 1 — Maryland

20-4, 10-3 in the Big Ten, no change

What’s new? The Terrapins had a bit of a scare, almost losing to the Huskers. But Maryland came out on top, one game removed from its win over Illinois on Feb. 7.

Reason for the ranking: Maryland is on a roll, but a contest against Michigan State on Saturday will be telling.