1. Michigan (16-1, 11-1)
Juwan Howard and the Wolverines accomplished Sunday what Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan football team have only been able to dream of: notching a big win over Ohio State. In beating the 4th-ranked Buckeyes, Michigan is now on the verge of clinching its first Big Ten regular season title since 2014. The Wolverines and their star freshman center Hunter Dickerson, who absolutely shined against Ohio State, have matchups against two of the conference’s best bigs this week in Iowa’s Luka Garza and Indiana’s Trace Jackson-Davis.
(Last Week: 1)
2. Illinois (16-5, 12-3)
THIS is the Illinois team Illini fans and basketball pundits thought they would see this year. Illinois has won seven straight games, and while they looked somewhat flat in recent showings against Nebraska and Northwestern, their 31-point victory over Minnesota, which featured yet another triple-double from Ayo Dosunmu, proved why this team will be exceptionally dangerous come March. The Illini will look to stretch their winning streak to ten games with matchups against Michigan State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin this week.
(Last Week: 3)
3. Ohio State (18-5, 12-5)
The Buckeyes held on to beat Penn State 92-82 in a high scoring affair before falling to Michigan on Sunday in one of the most entertaining conference games thus far in the Big Ten. The loss to the Wolverines may bump the Buckeyes off the #1 seed line in some mock brackets, but Ohio State still has plenty of opportunities remaining to make its case for consideration as one of the top four teams in the country, including this week’s road game at Michigan State and home contest against Iowa.
(Last Week: 2)
4. Iowa (17-6, 11-5)
Iowa winning four straight games is hardly surprising given the team’s tremendous talent. What has been surprising, however, is that this streak has been sparked by the team’s recent improvement on the defensive end. Iowa has held each of its past five opponents under 70 points, and its current adjusted defensive efficiency ranking is its best since the 2016 season. Iowa remains the type of team that could get hot and run teams out of the building in the NCAA Tournament, and this week’s heavyweight matchups against both Michigan and OSU on the road will provide excellent prep for the type of games the team will play if it can make it past the first weekend of the tournament. If Iowa’s defense still appears improved after these two games, it will be a very encouraging sign.
(Last Week: 4)
5. Purdue (15-8, 10-6)
The Boilermakers notched two double-digit wins last week, beating Michigan State at home and Nebraska on the road. Purdue’s remaining matchups against Penn State, Wisconsin, and Indiana are all winnable games, and Boilermaker fans should be optimistic about their team’s prospects for entering the Big Ten tournament as one of the conference’s hotter teams.
(Last Week: 7)
6. Wisconsin (16-8, 10-7)
The Badgers posted their worst home loss to the Hawkeyes since 1988 last week, but the team got some of its mojo back in a 17-point win over Northwestern. The Badger offense continues to be the team’s Achilles’ heel, and the team hasn’t scored 70 points since its win over Penn State on February 2nd. This week provides the Badgers with an opportunity to notch their only real signature win in conference play so far when they play host to the Illini this Saturday.
(Last Week: 5)
7. Maryland (14-10, 8-9)
They say that slow and steady wins the race, and Tetsudo and the Terrapin basketball team really seem to have taken this principle to heart. Maryland is well past the point of contending in the race for the regular season conference crown, but with four straight wins under their belt including three victories in the past week, they have decidedly played their way onto the tournament bubble. With very winnable games against Michigan State, Northwestern, and Penn State remaining on their schedule, Maryland could potentially enter the Big Ten Tournament riding a seven-game winning streak if it can sustain its current level of play.
(Last Week: 10)
8. Rutgers (12-9, 8-9)
The Scarlet Knights were one of the hottest teams in the conference coming into February, but they have now lost three of their last four games, including contests last week against Michigan and Maryland. Rutgers was competitive in both of those games, but poor shooting ultimately doomed them in each instance. The Scarlet Knights play Indiana on Wednesday in a game that will have major implications for both teams’ NCAA Tournament resumes.
(Last Week: 6)
9. Indiana (12-10, 7-8)
Hoosier fans should be salivating for another chance to play Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament, as it appears Indiana saves another level of intensity for its games against the Hawkeyes that it is hesitant to display against other opponents. The Hoosiers beat the spiraling Golden Gophers last week but dropped a frustrating game against Michigan State which could complicate their case as a bubble team. Upcoming games against Michigan and Rutgers will provide the Hoosiers with important opportunities to bolster their credentials if they are able to pull out a “W” in either matchup.
(Last Week: 9)
10. Minnesota (13-10, 6-10)
Road games are never easy, but Richard Pitino’s team has been absolutely befuddled each time it has been forced to play outside the friendly confines of Williams Arena this season. Minnesota is 0-8 in road games and continued this unfortunate streak by losing 82-72 to Indiana last week. This proved to be the less embarrassing of the Gophers’ two most recent defeats, however, as Minnesota was obliterated by the Illini at home in a 94-63 beatdown over the weekend. Minnesota’s wins against Michigan, Ohio State, and Iowa are as impressive as any three victories a team has posted in college basketball this season, but losses like last week’s really complicate their NCAA Tournament case.
(Last Week: 8)
11. Michigan State (11-9, 5-9)
Michigan State kept their infinitesimally small hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament alive with its road win against Indiana last week, though its loss to Purdue may ultimately prove to be the nail in Sparty’s coffin. However, all bets are off if Michigan State manages to pull home upsets against Illinois and Ohio State this week.
(Last Week: 11)
12. Penn State (7-12, 4-11)
Penn State is a bad basketball team, but they sure are playing hard. The Nittany Lions gave Ohio State and Iowa all they could handle last week, and there’s something commendable about going out and really competing when your season is already circling the drain.
(Last Week: 12)
13. Northwestern (4-16, 3-13)
The Wildcats have now lost 13 straight games.
(Last Week: 14)
14. Nebraska (5-15, 1-12)
Would Fred Hoiberg bolt from Nebraska if Iowa State fires Steve Prohm at the end of the season?
(Last Week: 13)