Purdue cemented their hold on the number one spot in the Big Ten and looks poised to add another conference Championship to the trophy case. How many teams from the Big Ten will make it to the big dance?
Michigan made us all experience its entirety this week, first upstaging Wisconsin but then succumbing to Nebraska in an embarrassing defeat. While Michigan possesses the talent necessary to beat good teams at home, they just haven’t managed it enough so far, so they sit at the bottom of our power rankings.
Ohio State may have made the first steps toward salvaging their season on Saturday night in their overtime victory against Maryland. Before that win, they had lost eight out of nine contests before defeating Maryland. The Buckeyes have the talent to be a good team, but after a tremendous start to the season that included a win over Alabama, the Buckeyes have fallen apart.
Indiana earned a much-needed victory against Ohio State early in the week before succumbing to Purdue on Saturday night, an outcome which left Indiana looking like they didn’t possess enough talent or consistency for an NCAA Tournament run. Indiana showed some fight in its comeback victory over the Buckeyes, but Saturday night, they had no chance at Purdue. Indiana can beat any team in the Big ten not named Purdue, but they have also proven they are inconsistent enough to lose to anybody.
Maryland experienced an especially trying week as they lost to Rutgers and Ohio State by narrow margins in close games, losing three consecutive games and drifting away from making an NCAA Tournament bid. The Terps had gotten themselves in position to make a run, but this past week has put that to bed.
Penn State basketball has improved significantly this year, and results have proven it. Although Penn State lost to Northwestern on Sunday, their play has vastly improved compared to earlier this season. The Nittany Lions program looks to be headed in the proper direction.
Iowa used an incredible 20-point comeback on Sunday afternoon to defeat Minnesota and avoid a 0-2 week. While Iowa remains one of the top offensive teams, their lack of defense prevents them from rising into Big Ten elite status.
After a tough start to the year, Rutgers appears to have found some rhythm and is getting hot down the stretch. The Scarlet Knights have won three straight games, which include a road win over Maryland and a blowout home win over Wisconsin this past week.
Minnesota enjoyed an encouraging week but should have had even better results. On Sunday at Iowa, Minnesota let a big lead slip away, which would have been coupled nicely with their success over Michigan State earlier in the week. The Gophers have put themselves in a position to make a run at the NCAA Tournament.
A week ago, Wisconsin was challenging Purdue for first place in our power rankings and nearly won. Unfortunately, they lost that game and have experienced two further heartbreaking defeats this week against Michigan and Rutgers – four straight losses now exist. Wisconsin needs a victory now more than ever!
Michigan State bounced back nicely after their loss at Minnesota by defeating Illinois in a crucial must-win game on Friday at home. While Michigan State still boasts one of the highest ceilings in the Big Ten, they continue to struggle with consistency from game to game – something Michigan State must work on to advance further in our rankings and secure a March Madness bid.
Nebraska at home is one of the best teams in the Big Ten (if not the country); while away, they continue to struggle – this was demonstrated again this week with Nebraska losing at Northwestern but then trouncing Michigan on home turf over the weekend.
Northwestern has had an excellent week and secured their home court by defeating Nebraska and Penn State while keeping an eye on star guard Ty Berry, who remains out with injury for an indefinite period. Chris Collins is the best Head Coach in the Big Ten.
Illinois will be kicking themselves over blowing their second-half lead at Michigan State, but overall, the performance at the Breslin Center was a strong one for the Fighting Illini. Illinois is the clear No. 2 to Purdue at this point in the year.
Purdue continues to demonstrate why it is the premier team in the Big Ten and maybe the entire country, outclassing Indiana on Saturday night. The Boilermakers are fully in control of the Big Ten Conference with a two-game lead over their closest competitor.
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