The Big Ten race looks clear right now as the Purdue Boilermakers have put a choke hold on first with wins over Northwestern and Wisconsin this past week. The top six teams are clear, and the rest of the Big Ten is a jumbled mess.
Michigan would rank among the elite teams if games were decided at halftime. Yet, the Wolverines continue to let leads slip away, including an 18-point margin in Saturday’s home loss against Rutgers. The Wolverines are a mess, and Juwan Howard should need a new job by season’s end.
Rutgers bounced back nicely from its midweek home loss to Penn State by defeating Michigan on the road and staying above the basement in our weekly power rankings. Rutgers plays hard. They do not have the offensive firepower to be a contender this season.
At one time (not too long ago), Ohio State was one of the top teams in our power rankings. But, recently, they’ve fallen drastically and lost seven out of their last eight matches! This looks similar to last year’s free fall, and the Buckeyes have a must-win home game against Indiana next.
Indiana, like Ohio State, has experienced difficulties over the last month. On Saturday, they suffered their latest setback – losing to Penn State by double figures while the Nittany Lions leading scorer was absent from action. A loss to Ohio State on Tuesday and this season will spin out of control. The Hoosiers lack passion when they play and if that continues a losing season will become a possibility.
The Nittany Lions are replacing almost their entire team from last year, including the head coach. They have started to play well over the last few weeks of this season and dominated Indiana on the road without their top scorer.
Iowa had an up-and-down week this week, splitting their two games. On Tuesday, they fell just short against Indiana before beating Ohio State by one point on Friday. The Hawkeyes are still a team that’s struggling but slowly improving.
Maryland had just one game this week — an exhausting battle against Michigan State, which they ultimately fell in. Still, Maryland is an intimidating opponent that could knock off anyone in this league. The Terps are starting to play their way towards the bubble.
Minnesota earned an impressive victory against Northwestern on Saturday and now is firmly on the March Madness bubble. If Minnesota can continue to pick up big victories over the remaining month and a half of their season, they could join find themselves in the tournament.
Northwestern lost both road games this week but didn’t suffer in these rankings, as both were decided in overtime. While they can feel disheartened at letting late leads slip away against Purdue and Minnesota, respectively, Northwestern should feel proud of their efforts in both matches.
Nebraska continues to have one of the best home-court advantages in the Big Ten with another marquee home victory this week over Wisconsin. Winning away from home is still an issue for Nebraska after falling short again in a near-major upset win over Illinois on Sunday.
Michigan State needed to go 2-0 this week, and they accomplished that task successfully. Since their dismal 4-5 start to the year, Michigan State is 10-3 and is increasingly looking like the title contenders we expected entering this season. But don’t be fooled; this team still has room for growth…
Wisconsin had a chance to seize control of the Big Ten this week but fell short in both matches. First, they let a double-digit lead slip away at Nebraska before falling short against Purdue on Sunday in an important top-10 matchup at home.
Illinois has overtaken Wisconsin to become the No. 2 team in the Big Ten. Illinois dispatched Ohio State on its travels before narrowly defeating Nebraska at home on Sunday – both victories cementing its status.
Purdue took control of the Big Ten Conference race this past week with tough wins over Northwestern at home and beating Wisconsin on the road. A look ahead shows clear sailing ahead for the Boilermakers. Will, at least until Match Madness starts.
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