Howe: Big Ten Hoops Power Rankings 2-11
IOWA CITY, Iowa – It took awhile, but we’re seeing separation among the Big Ten teams. Of course, with how crazy the league has been, plenty of time remains for more movement.
We still won’t receive a look at Michigan and Michigan State matching up this week. In its infinite wisdom, the league is waiting until Feb. 24 before they meet for the first time. They play again on March 9.
Oh well, plenty of intriguing games dot the schedule during the next seven days as teams jockey for position in the standings. Here’s a look a this week’s power rankings before they get underway:
1. Purdue (17-6, 10-2, AP No. 12, No. 11 Coaches) – Owners of the conference longest winning streak (eight games), the Boilermakers won their only game of the week in convincing fashion. They blew out reeling Nebraska, 81-62. They’ve positioned themselves to win the league with no more contests against Michigan and Michigan State on the regular-season schedule.
Purdue plays twice this week, it’s at Maryland on Tuesday and plays host to Penn State on Saturday. It begins the week 10th in the NET, 9th in Ken Pom and 8th in Sagarin.
2. Michigan (22-2 overall, 11-2 Big Ten, No. 6, No. 7) – The Wolverines swept their two games this week, knocking off Rutgers on the road and Wisconsin at home. They avenged a loss in Madison by locking up the Badgers defensively.
The Wolverines face another manageable week with a game at Penn State on Tuesday before returning home for a matchup with Maryland on Saturday. They are 6th in the NET and Ken Pom and No. 9 in Sagarin.
3. Michigan State (19-5, 10-3, No. 11, No. 12) – The Spartans’ losing streak hit three games when they fell at Illinois last Tuesday. They rallied for a 24-point home win against Minnesota on Saturday. They should have kept pace with Michigan and Purdue, but they failed to do so.
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We’ll see if the Minnesota win marks a return of MSU from the valley of the skid when it plays at Wisconsin on Tuesday. It also plays host to Ohio State on Sunday. It sits eighth in the national NET rankings. It’s fourth in the Ken Pom and No. 5 Sagarin ratings.
4. Wisconsin (17-7, 9-4, No. 20, No. 23) – The Badgers’ saw their six-game winning streak end on Saturday at Michigan but they still should be pleased with the week overall, which included a win at rival Minnesota. They’ve established themselves as the leader of this tier.
Wisconsin can make another statement on Tuesday when it plays host to Michigan State in its lone game of the week. It’s 11th in NET and Ken Pom, and 13th in the Sagarin.
5. Maryland (18-6, 9-4, No. 24, No. 25) – The Terps’ only game last week was a 15-point blowout of Nebraska in Lincoln. In other words, they took care of business, doing what was expected, which in this league is saying something.
Maryland can show it’s for real this week when it plays host to Purdue Tuesday before traveling to Michigan on Saturday. It’s 23rd in the NET and Sagarin, and 19th in Ken Pom.
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6. Iowa (19-5, 8-5, No. 21, No. 17) – The Hawkeyes continued their impressive turnaround from last year’s disaster with a pair of wins last week. They outlasted Indiana in Bloomington before pulling off a miraculous comeback against Northwestern on Sunday night in Iowa City.
Iowa plays once this week. It travels to Rutgers on Saturday. It’s 26th in the NET and Sagarinm and 25th in Ken Pom.
7. Minnesota (16-7, 6-7, NR, NR) – The Golden Gophers drop down a tier from last week as they’ve became mired in a three-game losing streak after beating Iowa in Minneapolis on Jan. 27. They fell at home to Wisconsin and at Michigan State last week.
Minnesota needs a bounce-back week with games at Nebraska and at home against Indiana, two teams not playing well. It’s 58th in the NET, 56th in Ken Pom and 52nd in Sagarin.
8. Ohio State (16-7, 6-6, NR, NR) – The Buckeyes swept a pair of games last week, topping Penn State at home and then knocking off the Hoosiers in Indiana. They’ve rebounded from a tough January.
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Ohio State plays host to Illinois on Thursday before heading to Michigan State on Sunday. It’s 38th in Net, 32nd in Ken Pom and 33rd in Sagarin.
9. Indiana (13-11, 4-9, NR, NR) – The Hoosiers could have built on an upset win at Michigan State with a pair of winnable home games last week. Instead, they lost to Iowa on Thursday and Ohio State on Sunday.
Indiana plays just once this week, a Saturday trip to Minneapolis. It’s 47th in NET, 45th in Ken Pom and 36th in Sagarin.
10. Illinois (9-15, 5-8, NR, NR) – I toyed with moving the Illini up a tier, but want to see how they perform this week at Ohio State. They’re 93rd in NET, 71st in Ken Pom and 67th in Sagarin.
11. Nebraska (13-9, 3-8, NR, NR) – Going to give the Huskers the benefit of the doubt one more week and leave them here with home games upcoming against Minnesota and Northwestern. They begin action 40th in the Net, 36th in Ken Pom and 37th in Sagarin.
12. Rutgers (11-12, 4-9, NR, NR) – The Knights lost at home to Michigan and at Illinois last week. They’re 125th in NET, 92nd in Ken Pom and 102nd in Sagarin.
13. Northwestern (12-11, 3-9, NR, NR) – The Wildcats fell at home to Penn State and at Iowa last week. They’re 71st in NET, and 61st in Ken Pom and Sagarin.
14. Penn State (8-15, 1-11, NR, NR) – The Nittany Lions won at Northwestern and lost at Ohio State last week. You could make a case for them being ahead of Northwestern but why waste your time? They’re 73rd in NET, 62nd in Ken Pom and 63rd in Sagarin.