1. Michigan (10-0, 5-0)
The Maize & Blue’s best two wins have come in their past two games, with decisive victories over #19 Northwestern and #16 Minnesota. Hunter Dickinson is playing like one of the top freshmen in the country, and he’ll need to live up to that billing and more when Michigan takes on the 9th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers tonight.
(Last Week: 1)
2. Iowa (11-2, 5-1)
Michigan deserves the top spot on the basis of their spotless record, but the Hawkeyes are nipping at their heels after a strong week which saw them blow out Maryland on the road and avenge their Christmas Day loss to Minnesota at home. Iowa’s big three of Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon, and Joe Wieskamp all put up monstrous performances against the Gophers, and it’s tough to imagine this team losing if all three of them can consistently play at that level going forward.
(Last Week: 2)
3. Wisconsin (10-2, 4-1)
Wisconsin’s last game against Indiana was far closer than most Badger fans hoped, but a huge performance from D’Mitrik Trice was enough to earn them the W. Greg Gard’s team has two tough road challenges this week with trips to Michigan and Rutgers on the schedule, but winning both of those contests would put the Badgers in a much better position to challenge for the regular season conference title.
(Last Week: 4)
4. Illinois (9-4, 5-2)
Almost as surprising as Brad Underwood & Co.’s loss to Maryland on Sunday was the way they lost. The high-powered Illini offense was held to only 63 points against a Terrapin team that was missing one of its best players in Eric Ayala, and every Illinois player not named Kofi Cockburn or Ayo Dosunmu was either virtually invisible or a net minus for most of the game. Their 81-56 win over Northwestern is a much better representation of what this team can do, but it’s difficult to rank them any higher than 4th in the conference with their current record.
(Last Week: 3)
5. Ohio State (9-3, 3-3)
The Buckeyes have won four of their last six games, including an impressive 79-68 win against Rutgers at the RAC. However, they have to run the Illinois gauntlet this week with upcoming matches against both the Illini and Wildcats, which could threaten to bring this team back down to earth a bit. However, if the Buckeyes can continue to play high-level defense (they have not allowed an opponent to score 80+ points on them since their December 8th victory over Notre Dame), they can continue to be a tough out for any Big Ten team.
(Last Week: 8)
6. Purdue (8-5, 3-3)
The Boilermakers’ 55-54 win against Michigan State was not pretty, but it did give Matt Painter’s crew a nice resume-boosting victory over an AP Top 25 team on the road. Purdue fans likely hope their team doesn’t have to claw back from many 17-point deficits this year, but it’s good to know that Trevion Williams and his teammates have what it takes to accomplish that. When the junior big man plays the way he did during the second half of this win, the Boilermakers are going to be awfully difficult to beat.
(Last Week: 9)
7. Minnesota (10-4, 3-4)
Two brutal losses to Michigan and Iowa have removed some of the shine from this Gopher program, but Richard Pitino’s squad remains a dangerous team and will look for a spot of revenge against the Wolverines on December 16th. Minnesota continues to be as on-or-off a program as there is in college basketball this year. All of their losses have come by double-digits, and the usually potent Gopher offense has not scored above 71 points in any of their defeats.
(Last Week: 6)
8. Northwestern (6-4, 3-3)
Has the clock struck midnight for the Big Ten’s early-season Cinderella team? It’s too early to say. The Wildcats have lost three straight and looked completely lost in the second half of last week’s game against Illinois, but each of these defeats came at the hand of one of the conference’s elite teams. Northwestern will have two opportunities to right the ship this week— first against an Ohio State team they defeated on the road, and second against a Hawkeye squad that beat them by 15 points at Carver.
(Last Week: 7)
9. Indiana (8-5, 3-3)
The Hoosiers may have started to figure things out last week. Indiana notched wins against Maryland and Nebraska, and it’s lone defeat was a tightly-contested game against Wisconsin which went into double overtime. Trayce Jackson-Davis is as good as any player in the Big Ten not named Luka Garza, and Archie Miller’s team plays exceptionally well on defense. The Hoosiers have winnable games against Purdue and MSU this week and could improve their spot on this list with a sweep.
(Last Week: 12)
10. Rutgers (7-4, 3-4)
The Scarlet Knights are in a tailspin right now. Three straight defeats have Rutgers at a lowly 3-4 in conference play, and their 68-45 loss to Michigan State was about as sorry a performance as any decent Big Ten team has mustered up this season. The Scarlet Knights offense that dropped a cool 91 on Illinois is looking more and more like an aberration, and things won’t get any easier in their upcoming game against Wisconsin. If Steve Pikiell’s team has any aspirations of contending for a conference championship, the turnaround needs to start immediately.
(Last Week: 5)
11. Michigan State (8-4, 2-4)
Just when the Spartans appeared to have found the winning formula with their big home win against Rutgers, they squandered a 17-point lead against Purdue in a game where they could only muster up 54 points. The Spartans will have an opportunity to play giant killer in Thursday’s road trip to Iowa City, but despite their team’s immense talent, it’s tough to give them much of a chance given how inconsistent they’ve looked against conference opponents.
(Last Week: 10)
12. Maryland (7-6, 2-5)
As streaky as the Spartans have been this year, the Terrapins might be even more eclectic. Mark Turgeon’s team came out blazing against Iowa last Thursday before being absolutely buried in the final 35 minutes of the game. After letting the Hawkeyes scorch the nets to the tune of 89 points, they proceed to play lockdown defense on the road against the Illini and pull a 66-63 upset with Eric Ayala on the bench. Maryland’s next two games are against Nebraska and Michigan, and this point I’m half expecting them to lose to the Huskers before beating the Wolverines by double digits.
(Last week: 11)
13. Penn State (3-4, 0-3)
Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse, the Nittany Lions were struck with the coronavirus. Here’s hoping they can get back on the court soon to try to turn around a season that’s been very disappointing so far.
(Last Week: 13)
14. Nebraska (4-8, 0-5)
The Huskers haven’t beaten a D1 basketball team since December 1. Need I say more?
(Last Week: 14)