Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings: Week 11 edition
After an eventful Week 10 of Big Ten basketball filled with upsets, here are the Week 11 conference power rankings.
Another week has come and passed and there’s a new No. 1 in the Big Ten basketball power rankings. Purdue was the top team in the conference, in my opinion, until the Iowa Hawkeyes took the Boilermakers down last week.
However, they could still make a case to be the conference’s best team in the coming weeks but for now, there’s a new top dog in town.
Where does Michigan State stand in all of this? The Spartans opened the week with an impressive 18-point victory over Minnesota but it concluded with a loss at winless Ohio State. The Buckeyes were 0-4 in conference play and eked out a victory over the Spartans.
Let’s take a look at who tops this week’s power rankings and where the Spartans rank.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Last week: (11-8, 0-6 Big Ten)
Last rank: 14th
Rutgers has been the opposite of good this season. Therefore, they’ve been bad. I mean, really bad. The Scarlet Knights have, however, surpassed last year’s win total of just seven games. It took the Scarlet Knights all season long to win a conference game, but did so in the finale against Minnesota to avoid an 0-18 Big Ten record. Will they be able to avoid that this season? The jury is still out. They lost to Indiana and Northwestern last week to fall to 0-6 in conference play.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Last week: (11-7, 1-4 Big Ten)
Last rank: 13th
Ohio State hasn’t been much better than Rutgers in conference action. The Buckeyes did record their first Big Ten win of the season, avoiding their worst start in 19 years by beating Michigan State in Columbus on Sunday. Why do they remain at No. 13 in the power rankings then? The 23-point loss early in the week against Wisconsin was just that poor of a showing. Ohio State needs to figure out how to win with basically no depth.
Last week: (12-6, 2-3 Big Ten)
Last rank: 10th
Michigan had one of those uninspiring losses against Illinois on Wednesday, losing to the Fighting Illini by 16 points on the road. What became evident is that not even Moritz Wagner or D.J. Wilson are aggressive enough in the post to create issues for opposing offenses. No teams fear the Wolverines as a defensive team and that’s why mediocre squads like Illinois and Nebraska are scoring 85. The Wolverines did hold off the Cornhuskers at home on Saturday, but it took a 91-point showing to do so. This team is struggling to match up.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Last week: (12-6, 2-3 Big Ten)
Last rank: 12th
The victory over Michigan on Wednesday was one of Illinois’ best performances under John Groce, and that’s saying a lot about how underwhelming the Fighting Illini have been in recent years. However, they got hot early against Michigan and kept it up, running away with a 16-point win in Champaign thanks to 64 percent shooting from the field as well as from the perimeter. Unfortunately, they took a step back over the weekend with a six-point loss against Maryland at home and Tracy Abrams didn’t score a single point — not ideal.
Last week: (11-8, 3-3 Big Ten)
Last rank: 11th
It’s kind of surprising to see Iowa struggle as much as they have since Fran McCaffery has done such a great job with the Hawkeyes since taking over the program. However, when you lose so much from arguably the best team in years, there’s bound to be a step back taken. In fact, the Hawkeyes are in danger of missing out on the tournament if they don’t stay above .500, at the very least, in conference play. Iowa beat Purdue at home to gain some confidence and then followed that up with a 35-point loss at Northwestern. Confusing week, to say the least.
Last week: (9-8, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last rank: 8th
Nebraska can beat any team in the conference, but the Cornhuskers are also inconsistent. Tim Miles has been a fantastic coach for this program over the past few years and he’s had some big-time talent come through such as Shavon Shields, Terran Petteway and Andrew White, but those names have come and gone and he’s left with a young roster. The Cornhuskers beat Indiana and Maryland to start conference play, along with Iowa, but they’ve lost two consecutive games, the most recent coming against Michigan Saturday.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Last week: (11-7, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last rank: 9th
Will Penn State make the NCAA Tournament? No one knows that answer right now, but we do know that the Nittany Lions are much better this season than in years past. Over the past couple of seasons, Penn State was considered an easy win, but now the Nittany Lions are beating teams like Michigan State and, last week, No. 24 Minnesota. There is athleticism and depth on this team and the scary part is that the Nittany Lions are relatively young. A couple of years from now, maybe even next season, they will be a force in the Big Ten.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Last week: (15-4, 3-3 Big Ten)
Last rank: 3rd
Richard Pitino’s young Golden Gophers took the biggest dive in this week’s power rankings. After making it all the way to No. 3 last week as the hottest team in the conference, Minnesota lost to Michigan State on Wednesday by 18 and then scored just 50 points in a two-point defeat against Penn State on Saturday. Amir Coffey and Nate Mason look to be two solid pieces to the conference race puzzle, but they need to find consistency. They have a chance to make up for those losses with a home win over Wisconsin this week.
Last week: (12-6, 2-3 Big Ten)
Last rank: 6th
If you’re shocked that Indiana has fallen off the radar this much in recent weeks, you’re not alone. The Hoosiers began the season 11-2 with wins over Kansas and North Carolina but a recent four-game losing streak, including three in Big Ten play, dropped them out of the rankings and to the NCAA Tournament bubble. Indiana opened the week with a loss to Maryland, but followed it up with a nice win over Rutgers. However, Tom Crean was not pleased (to say the least) as his guys attempted an alley-oop at the buzzer while up 19.
Michigan State Spartans
Last week: (12-7, 4-2 Big Ten)
Last rank: 5th
Michigan State remains at No. 5 despite losing to Ohio State on Sunday because the Spartans fared no worse than the Hoosiers last week. Also, Minnesota dropped and Northwestern jumped the Spartans, so it all evened out. What’s frustrating, though, is that this team can be so dominant, like they were against Minnesota on Wednesday, and then they can look like a roster full of freshmen in their first ever game, like they did on Sunday against the Buckeyes. It’s up to Tom Izzo to try and find a healthy medium so that the Spartans can make a deep run.
Last week: (15-4, 4-2 Big Ten)
Last rank: 7th
Northwestern is on fire lately. The Wildcats got off to a bumpy start in conference play, beating Penn State and then losing two straight to Michigan State and Minnesota. However, they have gotten back on track with three straight victories, including a 35-point thrashing of Iowa over the weekend and they now look like a serious contender to make the NCAA Tournament. Why is that such a big deal? Well, Northwestern has never made the tourney as a basketball program in school history. This could be the year.
Last week: (14-4, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last rank: 1st
Traveling to Iowa is never an easy task, and the No. 1 (in our power rankings) Boilermakers proved that last week by losing a tough five-point game to the struggling Hawkeyes. There’s only so much that Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas can do for this team that if they aren’t carrying the load, guys like Vince Edwards have a hard time making up for the lack of production. Purdue may just have the best post presence in the conference, but they need a more complete look.
Last week: (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten)
Last rank: 4th
Maryland has overtaken the role as the conference’s hottest team and the Terrapins just don’t get the love they deserve. Starting conference play out with a loss to Nebraska, the Terrapins have since hit their stride and look to be on track to finish the regular season in the top-three in the standings. Sure, we aren’t even halfway through the Big Ten season, but the Terrapins look like one of three or four teams to beat. Maryland took down Indiana and toughed out Illinois on the road to extend their overall record to 16-2 — the best mark in the conference.
Last week: (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten)
Last rank: 2nd
Wisconsin was the overwhelming favorite to win the Big Ten prior to the season essentially because the Badgers were bringing back just about everyone from last year’s team. Nigel Hayes decided to put off the NBA, Bronson Koenig was one of the team’s top scorers last year and Ethan Happ is the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year. This team has the talent to make a run at the national title, not just the Big Ten crown. The Badgers had just one game in Week 10, beating Ohio State by a solid 23 points at home.
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