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Week 24 Big Ten power rankings: Michigan begins to climb, Iowa stays put

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Michigan is on a four-game win streak, boasting victories over Michigan State and Rutgers in that span.

Iowa v Indiana
Connor McCaffery and Luka Garza are a big reason why Iowa still remains in the top five of the Big Ten.

There is no such thing as certainty in the Big Ten this season. Whatever preseason rankings or predictions were made, most of them could be scrapped by now.

For instance, I doubt anyone had Rutgers losing its first home game this late in the season or Michigan taking this long to finally emerge above .500 in Big Ten play.

Here is which teams moved the most in this week’s rankings:

Biggest jump: Michigan (+2 spots)

Biggest fall: Purdue (-2 spots)

Anyway, let’s get to this week’s Big Ten power rankings.

No. 14 — Nebraska

7-18, 2-12 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Nebraska got steamrolled by Wisconsin 81-64 on Feb. 15. It wasn’t pretty. The Huskers trailed by just one point at halftime, but the Badgers took care of business in the second, where it wasn’t even close.

Reason for the ranking: Nebraska hasn’t done anything to move up in the rankings, and I don’t expect them to in the next three games against Michigan State, Illinois, and Ohio State.

No. 13 — Northwestern

6-19, 1-14 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Northwestern lost a pair of games to the Big Ten’s best two programs in Maryland and Penn State.

Reason for the ranking: While the Wildcats didn’t beat the Terrapins, they did give them somewhat of a scare, losing by just nine points.

No. 12 — Minnesota

12-13, 6-9 in the Big Ten, -1 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Minnesota lost back-to-back home games, falling to Iowa on Feb. 16 and Indiana on Wednesday — both very winnable games. The Gophers lost by 12 to the Hoosiers, but it was a four-point game with just 2:16 left.

Reason for the ranking: Minnesota has now lost five of its last six games. The Gophers play Northwestern next on Sunday, so there’s any opportunity to right the ship before facing Maryland on Feb. 26.

No. 11 — Indiana

17-9, 7-8 in the Big Ten, +1 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Indiana took down Minnesota on Wednesday, pulling away late. The Hoosiers also lost to Michigan on Feb. 16.

Reason for the ranking: Indiana is one of those Big Ten teams flirting on the bubble for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The win over Minnesota was a step in the right direction.

No. 10 — Purdue

14-13, 7-9 in the Big Ten, -2 spots from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Purdue has lost its last three games, falling to Penn State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. The loss to the Badgers was close (four points), but the Ohio State game (16 points) was not.

Reason for the ranking: It’s beginning to creep toward do-or-die time for the Boilermakers, and they’re trending in the wrong direction.

No. 9 — Ohio State

17-8, 7-7 in the Big Ten, no change from last weeks rankings

What’s new? Ohio State beat a sliding Purdue team 68-52 on Feb. 15. The Buckeyes have enjoyed a slight break in the action before taking on Iowa in Iowa City tonight.

Reason for the ranking: The win over Purdue doesn’t warrant any movement, especially considering how Michigan has been on a tear as of late.

No. 8 — Michigan

17-9, 8-7 in the Big Ten, +2 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Michigan topped Indiana and Rutgers to move above .500 in Big Ten play for the first time since it was 1-0 after beating Iowa back in December.

Reason for the ranking? The Wolverines leapfrog the Buckeyes in this week’s rankings thanks to handing Rutgers its first loss at home this season. Michigan is heating up at the right time.

No. 7 — Wisconsin

16-10, 9-6 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Don’t look now, but Wisconsin (somehow) owns the same Big Ten record as Michigan State. The Badgers took down Nebraska and Purdue in the past week.

Reason for the ranking: While wins are wins, neither victories good enough to elevate Wisconsin above the six teams ahead of it.

No. 6 — Rutgers

17-8, 9-7 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Rutgers (finally) lost its first home game of the year, falling to Michigan on Wednesday. Before that, however, Rutgers beat Illinois by 15 points on Feb. 15.

Reason for the ranking: Rutgers was thiiiiiiis close to sneaking into the top five this week, but I can’t put it ahead of Illinois, which just knocked off one of the hottest teams in the country.

No. 5 — Illinois

17-9, 9-6 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Illinois finished a gauntlet of a five-game slate, losing to Rutgers and beating a scalding-hot Penn State team.

Reason for the ranking: The win over Penn State was great. But considering how Illinois lost to Rutgers, Michigan State, Maryland, and Iowa in the four games leading up to its matchup with the Nittany Lions. Illinois is a good team, but not one of the four best in the conference at this point.

No. 4 — Michigan State

17-9, 9-6 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Michigan State played one game since last week’s power rankings, losing 67-60 at home against Maryland.

Reason for the ranking: Michigan State has the pieces. This team isn’t terrible. But it also isn’t the preseason world-beater most expected. The Spartans might make a run come postseason play, but as of now, they’re battling for a bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

No. 3 — Iowa

18-8, 9-6 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Well, the Hawkeyes lost sharpshooter CJ Fredrick to injury in the loss to Indiana, but they responded with a resilient late-game surge to beat Minnesota.

Reason for the ranking: Things are only going to get tougher for Iowa. Coach Fran McCaffery said Fredrick’s status was day-to-day, but unless he’s on the court, the Hawkeyes have a major 3-point hole to fill before facing the likes of Ohio State and Michigan State.

No. 2 — Penn State

20-6, 10-5 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? After taking down Northwestern on Feb. 15, Penn State lost to Illinois on Tuesday, snapping an eight-game winning streak.

Reason for the ranking: Despite the loss, Penn State still remains the second-best team in the conference. The Nittany Lions have just two games left on their schedule in which they should have a legitimate test: a road contest against Iowa and a home game against Michigan State. Also of note, Penn State is the only team in the Big Ten with an away record better than .500.

No. 1 — Maryland

22-4, 12-3 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Maryland took down Michigan State and Northwestern in the week following the previous power rankings. The Terrapins have now won their last nine games.

Reason for the ranking: In a chaotic conference, Maryland proved itself to be the most consistent team in the Big Ten.