Howe: Big Ten Hoops Power Rankings 1-21

January 21, 2019

Written by Rob Howe


IOWA CITY, Iowa – And then there was one.

After another whacky week in the Big Ten, Michigan State emerged as the only team without a loss in conference play. Wisconsin knocked then-No. 2-ranked Michigan from the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday in Madison.

That game illustrated the unpredictability in this league. Minnesota won at Wisconsin but was pounded at Illinois, who was blown out Sunday at Iowa, a place where Wisconsin won. There have been plenty of other examples.

With that in mind, it’s time for my second week of Big Ten Power Rankings. I do some with much trepidation.

Here we go:


1. Michigan State (16-2, 7-0, No. 6 AP, No. 5 Coaches) – The Spartans move up a spot after having played just one game last week. They pulled out a 70-64 win at Nebraska. They own a few good wins in the league – Iowa and Purdue in East Lansing, and at Ohio State and Nebraska. They also claim wins against bottom-feeders Penn State, Rutgers and Northwestern.

Their top spot will be tested this week. They’re at Iowa on Thursday and then travel to Purdue Sunday. As of Monday morning, MSU sits fifth in the national NET rankings. It’s third in both Ken Pom and Sagarin ratings.

2. Michigan (17-1 overall, 6-1 Big Ten, No. 5, No. 6) – Like Michigan State, the Wolverines played just one game last week, the aforementioned contest at Wisconsin. It couldn’t be called a bad loss as the Kohl Center ranks as one of the tougher league environments and it was rocking on Saturday. They’ve captured solid home wins against Purdue and Indiana, but among their six league wins are a pair against Northwestern, and one each against Penn State and Illinois.

They play host to Minnesota Tuesday and travel to Indiana on Friday. They enter the week at 6th in the NET, Ken Pom and Sagarin rankings.


3. Purdue (12-6, 5-2, NR, NR) – I’ll probably be in the minority placing Purdue here, but I’m OK with that. I slotted it in this spot last week, and it picked up blowout home wins against Rutgers and Indiana. Not unexpected but still impressive in a league where most games are a dogfight. It also owns a dominating victory against Iowa, topped Maryland by two at home and won at Wisconsin. Its two conference losses came at Michigan and Michigan State.

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It’s a big week for the Boilermakers, who travel to Ohio State on Wednesday before playing host to MSU on Sunday. They’re currently 15th in the NET, ninth in Ken Pom and 12 in Sagarin.

4. Maryland (16-3, 7-1, No. 13, No. 16) – I wouldn’t have issue with anyone placing the Terrapins ahead of Purdue but I like the Boilers’ resume better so far, particularly in the league. Plus, Maryland lost in West Lafayette, albeit by two points. It’s captured solid road wins at Minnesota and Ohio State by an average of 14.5 points. It also beat Nebraska and Indiana at home by a combined five points.

The Terps can prove themselves tonight at Michigan State. They play host to Illinois Saturday. They’re 20 in the NET, 17 in Ken Pom and 19 in Sagarin.

5. Wisconsin (12-6, 4-3, NR, NR) – The gap between the Badgers and Iowa is razor thin. They get the edge based on winning at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and owning the best victory (Michigan) between the two teams. A home loss against Purdue isn’t horrible but falling to Minnesota at the Kohl Center looks bad. They lost by four at Maryland.

Wisconsin should push its conference record to 6-3 this week with a game at Illinois and one at home against Northwestern. It’s 20 in NET, 16 in Ken Pom and 18 in Sagarin.

6. Iowa (16-3, 5-3, No. 19, No. 21) – The Hawkeyes are surging with their current five-game winning streak only trailing Michigan State (11) and Maryland (7) in the league. It includes victories against struggling Penn State and Illinois this past week. They claim solid home wins against Nebraska and Ohio State as well, but were blown out at Michigan State and Purdue, and lost a home game against Wisconsin.

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Iowa can add significantly to its resume this week with a home game against Michigan State on Thursday before playing Sunday at Minnesota. It’s 24th in the NET, 25th in Ken Pom and 35th in Sagarin.

7. Nebraska (13-5, 3-4, NR, NR) – The Huskers move up a tier this week despite dropping a close game against Michigan State at home. It’s based on their 14-point win at Indiana, always a tough place to play. They lost by two at Maryland, seven at Minnesota and nine at Iowa. No shame there.

Nebraska should add a few wins this week with a road game at Rutgers and a home contest against Ohio State on Saturday. It begins action 13th in the Net, 12th in Ken Pom and 10th in Sagarin.


8. Minnesota (14-4, 4-3, NR, NR) – The Golden Gophers’ win at Wisconsin easily places them atop this tier. They also beat Nebraska at home but lost by 27 at Illinois and by 20 at Ohio State. Maryland beat them by 15 in Minneapolis.

Minnesota can leave an impression one way or the other this week with a road game at Michigan and a home contest against Iowa. It’s 65th in the NET, 66th in Ken Pom and 62nd in Sagarin.

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9. Indiana (12-6, 3-4, NR, NR) – The Hoosiers are in a free fall. Ranked 25th last week, they were worked at home by Nebraska before getting blown out at Purdue. They’ve dropped four games in a row and their three conference wins were against Northwestern, Penn State and Illinois.

Indiana travels to Northwestern Tuesday before playing host to Michigan on Friday. It’s 33rd in NET, 36th in Ken Pom and 25th in Sagarin.

10. Ohio State (12-5, 2-4, NR, NR) – Like Indiana, the Buckeyes are heading in the wrong direction. A Top 20 team two weeks ago, they’ve also lost four in a row, including a setback at Rutgers. Maryland won by 14 in Columbus on Friday.

Ohio State plays host to Purdue and at Nebraska this week, not an easy way to end the skid. It’s 39th in Net, and 37th in Ken Pom and Sagarin.


11. Northwestern (11-7, 2-5, NR, NR) – The Wildcats own wins against Illinois and Rutgers. That’s enough to place them at the top of the terrible tier. They’re 58 in NET, and 59 in Ken Pom and Sagarin.

12. Illinois (5-13, 1-6, NR, NR) – Illinois moves out of the basement with its blowout of Minnesota last week. It’s 108 in NET, 93 in Ken Pom and 90 in Sagarin.

13. Rutgers (8-9, 1-6, NR, NR) – The Knights have a win against Ohio State. Next. They’re 142 in NET, 125 in Ken Pom and 118 in Sagarin.

14. Penn State (7-12, 0-8, NR, NR) – See what being winless in the Big Ten gets you kids? Don’t be Penn State. It’s 75 in NET, 63 in Ken Pom and 71 in Sagarin.

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