Howe: Big Ten Hoops Power Rankings 1-28

January 28, 2019

Written by Rob Howe



IOWA CITY, Iowa – Let that be a lesson to you, kids. Don’t leave home unless necessary.

Maryland found that out the hard way this week. The Big Ten required it to play at first-place Michigan State on Monday. It chose meeting Illinois in New York on Saturday after the conference requested it. It cost the Terrapins a game in College Park.

They entered the week as one of the hottest teams in the league. They ended it with two losses, including an embarrassing setback to the lowly Illini (6-14 overall, 2-7 Big Ten).

The outcome would have been more shocking had this conference already not shown us its unpredictability. It continued last week with Ohio State winning at Nebraska, Rutgers sweeping games against the Huskers and at Penn State, and Top 10 Michigan needing a buzzer-beater at home to escape Minnesota.

It makes compiling power rankings difficult. But, I’m up to the task:


1. Michigan State (18-3, 9-1, No. 6 AP, No. 8 Coaches) – The Spartans hold the top spot for a second week in a row despite losing at Purdue Sunday after knocking off Maryland and Iowa earlier in the week. They get a mulligan from me. Not taking anything away from the Boilermakers, but MSU shouldn’t have been made to play three games in seven days, the last two coming on the road.

MSU plays host to Indiana Saturday in its only game of the week. As of Monday morning, MSU sits sixth in the national NET rankings. It’s third in Ken Pom and fourth in the Sagarin ratings.

2. Michigan (19-1 overall, 8-1 Big Ten, No. 5, No. 5) – The Wolverines looked vulnerable against Minnesota but dominant while blasting reeling Indiana in Bloomington last week. Most teams experience peaks and valleys, but they’ve shown over the season that they’re legit.

They play host to rival Ohio State Tuesday before traveling to Iowa on Friday. They are 4th in the NET, 5th in Ken Pom and No. 7 in Sagarin.

3. Purdue (14-6, 7-2, No. 17, No. 18) – Purdue won at Ohio State on Wednesday and then continued its ascent up the conference and national landscape by handing Michigan State its first league loss on Sunday. The Boilermakers experienced some turbulence early in the season while replacing four starters from last season. They’ve ironed things out.

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They travel to Penn State on Thursday before playing host to Minnesota on Super Bowl Sunday. They’re currently 11th in the NET, 7th in Ken Pom and 10th Sagarin.


4. Wisconsin (14-6, 6-3, No. 24, No. 23) – The Badgers followed up an impressive upset of Michigan last week with convincing victories at Illinois and at home against Northwestern this week. They’ve shown an identity and are receiving help from guys other than Ethan Happ.

Wisconsin could keep it rolling this week with a trip to Nebraska on Tuesday before returning home against Maryland on Friday. It’s 13th in NET and Sagarin, and 11th in Ken Pom.

5. Maryland (16-5, 7-3, No. 21, No. 24) – I placed the Terps at four last week despite the national polls saying they were the third best group in the Big Ten. Then they were handled by Michigan State and suffered a bad loss to Illinois. They’re young and susceptible to these swings.

Maryland should return to its winning ways playing host to Northwestern on Tuesday, but a tall task looms Friday at Wisconsin. It’s 22nd in the NET, 23rd in Ken Pom and 26th in Sagarin.

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6. Minnesota (15-5, 5-4, NR, NR) – The Golden Gophers dropped a heartbreaker last week at Michigan, falling on a buzzer-beater. They bounced back Sunday with a key win against Iowa in the teams’ only regular-season meeting without key bench player Daniel Oturu.

Minnesota will be favored to win Wednesday when it plays host to Illinois. The challenge increased tremendously on Sunday with a trip to Purdue. It’s 51st in the NET and Sagarin, and 57th in Ken Pom.

7. Iowa (16-5, 5-5, NR, No. 25) – Michigan State ended the Hawkeyes’ five-game winning streak Thursday with a 15-point, come-from-behind effort. That loss lingered for them on Sunday when allowing 55 first-half points in a loss at Minnesota. Figuring out things defensively is a must.

Iowa competes just once this week, but it’s a doozie. It plays host to Michigan on Friday. It’s 30th in the NET and Ken Pom, and 34th in Sagarin.


8. Ohio State (13-6, 3-5, NR, NR) – The Buckeyes halted their skid at five with Saturday’s win at Nebraska. The way the Huskers have looked recently, OSU only gets partial credit.

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Ohio State heads to rival Michigan on Tuesday before returning home against Rutgers on Saturday. It’s 37th in Net, 31st in Ken Pom and Sagarin.

9. Nebraska (13-7, 3-6, NR, NR) – The Huskers lost two contests last week and one of their top players, Isaac Copeland, to an ACL tear. Even before that injury, they looked off, highlighted by a second-half collapse at Rutgers Monday. Ohio State had lost five in a row before winning in Lincoln Saturday.

Nebraska, one of the conference’s top underachievers this season, plays host to Wisconsin on Tuesday before heading to Illinois on Saturday. It begins action 25th in the Net, 18th in Ken Pom and 19th in Sagarin.

10. Indiana (12-8, 3-6, NR, NR) – The Hoosiers join Nebraska in the top underachiever category. They’ve lost a league-high six games in a row, including being thumped by Michigan at home and being outclassed at Northwestern last week. There’s talent here, but it hasn’t come together and time is running out.

Indiana travels to Rutgers on Wednesday and Michigan State on Saturday. It’s 41st in NET, 43rd in Ken Pom and 35th in Sagarin.


11. Illinois (6-14, 2-7, NR, NR) – Like the Jeffersons, Illinois is moving on up after residing in the basement two weeks ago. It owns the two most impressive wins in this tier (Maryland, Minnesota). It’s 115th in NET, 81st in Ken Pom and 94th in Sagarin.

12. Northwestern (12-8, 3-6, NR, NR) – The Wildcats won at Rutgers, giving them the slight edge between those teams. They’re 56h in NET and Ken Pom, and 53rd in Sagarin.

13. Rutgers (10-9, 3-6, NR, NR) – The Knights beat Nebraska at home and won at Penn State last week. They’re 123rd in NET, 100th in Ken Pom and 105th in Sagarin.

14. Penn State (7-13, 0-9, NR, NR) – The Nittany Lions played once last week. They lost at home to Rutgers. They earned this position. It’s 90th in NET, 69th in Ken Pom and 74th in Sagarin.

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