In this week’s edition of Big Ten power rankings, one thing is clear: the conference is brutal.
Don’t expect the Big Ten’s top six-seven teams to be in the same order once the regular season concludes. Every week, a new team is in consideration for the conference’s top spot. The top nine teams in the Big Ten all have conference records between 8-3 and 6-6.
Here’s how the conference shakes up in Week 22.
No. 14 — Nebraska
7-15, 2-9 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings
What’s new? Nebraska played just one game in between these power rankings and last week’s, losing to Penn State 76-64.
Reason for the ranking: The Huskers’ Big Ten slide now grows to seven straight losses — worst in the conference.
No. 13 — Northwestern
6-15, 1-10 in the Big Ten, no change
What’s new? The Wildcats suffered a three-point loss at home against Purdue on Feb. 1. Northwestern wasn’t great, but it didn’t look terrible in the loss. It was the Wildcats’s sixth loss of the season by six or fewer points.
Reason for the ranking: Give Northwestern credit, it almost notched its second Big Ten win of the season.
No. 12 — Indiana
15-7, 5-6 in the Big Ten, -5 spots
What’s new? Indiana has lost three straight games after beating Michigan State in Assembly Hall on Jan. 23. The latest loss didn’t look great at all; the Hoosiers fell 68-59 against Ohio State.
Reason for the ranking: Indiana won’t be in the mix for the conference’s top spot, but it will have a legitimate shot at gunning for the sixth/seventh spot in the Big Ten. It needs to snap out of this funk, though.
No. 11 — Michigan
13-9, 4-7 in the Big Ten, -1
What’s new? Michigan knocked off Rutgers in Ann Arbor on Feb. 1 and nearly notched three straight wins since November.
Reason for the ranking: No, the Wolverines aren’t one of the Big Ten’s top teams, but they’re slowly digging themselves out of the seemingly never-ending hole in the beginning of conference play.
No. 10 — Ohio State
15-7, 5-6 in the Big Ten, +2 spots
What’s new? After a 2-6 start to Big Ten play, Ohio State has won three straight games, taking down Northwestern, Indiana, and Michigan. The last win went down to the wire; Duane Washington Jr. canned a 3-pointer with 56 seconds left to put the Buckeyes ahead by one point. From there, free throws sealed the deal.
Reason for the ranking: The Buckeyes are dangerous when clicking, and they’re starting to find their groove. Ohio State received 19 votes in the latest Associated Press poll.
No. 9 — Wisconsin
13-10, 6-6 in the Big Ten, no change
What’s new? Wisconsin suffered an ugly loss on the road to Minnesota, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that this team took down Michigan State. Offense was nowhere to be found in the loss, however.
Reason for the ranking: See the reason for Minnesota’s ranking at No. 8.
No. 8 — Minnesota
12-10, 6-6 in the Big Ten, no change
What’s new? Minnesota took down Wisconsin by 18 on Wednesday in Minneapolis. The Gophers shot 41 percent and held the Badgers to just 28.4 percent from the field. Minnesota also lost to Illinois before the win on Wednesday.
Reason for the ranking: No. 8 and No. 9 are essentially interchangeable. Minnesota gets this spot because it just beat Wisconsin, plus Wisconsin’s win over Michigan State doesn’t look as great now that the Spartans are on a slide.
No. 7 — Purdue
13-10, 6-6 in the Big Ten, +4
What’s new? A 104-68 beat-down over No. 17 Iowa. The Boilermakers canned 19 (!!!!) 3-pointers and his 63.1 percent of their field goals in the win. It was an all-around smacking. Purdue also took down Northwestern by three points prior.
Reason for the ranking: That win over Iowa sure looked great. It’s all about consistency, though. So far, Purdue has obliterated Michigan State and Iowa in conference play. but it’s also lost to teams such as Nebraska and Michigan. The Boilermakers are yet another team with potential better than their record.
No. 6 — Rutgers
16-7, 7-5 in the Big Ten, -1 spot
What’s new? Rutgers lost its last two games to Michigan and Maryland. Both were close, but the Scarlet Knights’ play on the road is once again in question.
Reason for the ranking: The Scarlet Knights are still undefeated at home. Only problem? They haven’t played in Piscataway since Jan. 28. Rutgers is 1-5 in true road games this season, the worst mark out of the top seven teams in the Big Ten’s standings,
No. 5 — Penn State
17-5, 7-4 in the Big Ten, +1 spot
What’s new? Oh, not much except knocking off Michigan State in East Lansing. What a win for the Nittany Lions. On Tuesday, Penn State proved its ability to hang with ANY team in the Big Ten.
Reason for the ranking: Don’t look now, but Penn State is a dark horse to win the Big Ten. There’s plenty of basketball to be played and the conference is absolute chaos, but the Nittany Lions are playing with some incredible fight at the moment.
No. 4 — Illinois
16-6, 8-3 in the Big Ten, -1 spot
What’s new? Illinois toppled Minnesota in Champaign on Jan. 30 before losing to Iowa in Carver on Feb. 2. The Illini seemingly crumbled in the game’s final minutes against the Hawkeyes. Just two baskets in the last five minutes is not great.
Reason for the ranking: The loss to Iowa hurts Illinois’ case for a top-three spot in the conference. So far this season, Illinois does not have a win against a team currently ranked in the top 25.
No. 3 — Iowa
16-7, 7-5 in the Big Ten, -1
What’s new? Iowa lost on the road to Maryland, beat Illinois in Carver, and then suffered a disgusting loss on the road to Purdue. The loss to the Boilermakers featured atrocious defense that gave up 19 3-pointers.
Reason for the ranking? Iowa played Maryland close and took down one of the Big Ten’s best teams in Illinois. I originally had the Hawkeyes as the No. 2 team in the conference prior to the dud in West Lafayette. I don’t foresee that sort of an outcome becoming a regularity.
No. 2 — Michigan State
16-7, 8-4 in the Big Ten, -1
What’s new? Michigan State lost back-to-back games for the first time all season. The Spartans fell to Wisconsin on Feb. 1 and Penn State on Tuesday. The pair of losses came by a combined six points.
Reason for the ranking: The Spartans are on an unexpected slide. The Penn State loss isn’t terrible, but the Wisconsin one was a bit confusing. This, however, does not mean the sky is falling in East Lansing.
No. 1 — Maryland
18-4, 8-3 in the Big Ten, +3
What’s new? The Terrapins rattled off wins against Iowa and Rutgers, two contests in College Park. The win over the Hawkeyes was great. The duo of Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith keeps on rolling.
Reason for the ranking: Maryland keeps on winning, and against teams in the top half of the Big Ten. Knocking off Iowa definitely helps, too.