Big Ten Power Rankings (Jan. 26): Michigan Ascends to No. 1, Then Takes a Pause

Michigan has been playing great and after Iowa lost at home to Indiana, it was an easy choice to move the Wolverines into the top spot in our Big Ten Power Rankings.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Michigan Wolverines eliminated all doubt about who's the best team in the Big Ten after two convincing victories last week over Maryland and Purdue.

They looked unstoppable, until they were shut down by the most unlikely of sources – the Michigan state health department.

The state shut down ALL Michigan sports teams for two weeks after an athlete tested positive for the new variant strain of COVID-19 after returning to Ann Arbor from England. So even though no Michigan basketball players have tested positive, they are shut down anyway.

It sure seems wrong to me, that there had to be a better way to handle one case not at all related to basketball. But that's COVID this year.

COVID has had its impact on the Big Ten ledger, with only eight games scheduled to be played this week through Sunday. That's never happened before since the league expanded to 14 teams. Nebraska is still shut down – they haven't played since Jan, 10 – and Michigan State finally returns to play on Thursday after being shut down for 20 days.

There's been a lot of juggling in the power rankings this week, and we've got a showdown coming on Friday for the No. 2 spot. Here are my rankings, from No. 1 to No. 14. I had to make some tough choices. Your thoughts?

1. Michigan Wolverines

  • Record so far: 13-1 overall, 8-1 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 4, Coaches No. 4, kenpom.com No. 3
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 2
  • Last week: Beat Maryland 87-63; Beat Purdue 70-53
  • This week: Versus Indiana (ppd.)
  • The skinny: Michigan had two impressive wins last week, especially going to Purdue and blowing out a Boilermakers team that had won four games in a row. It's a shame they have to shut down for two weeks, because they were playing as well as anyone in the country. Now they'll miss games with Indiana, Northwestern and Michigan State.

2. Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Record so far: 12-3 overall, 6-2 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 7, Coaches No. 7, kenpom.com No. 4
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 1
  • Last week: Lost to Indiana 81-69: Nebraska (ppd.)
  • This week: At Illinois (Friday, 9 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: The Hawkeyes fell from the top spot after a stunning home loss to Indiana on Thursday when they simply could not make a shot in the second half. You've never seen Jordan Bohannon go 0-for-9 before in game, because it's never happened in his long Hawkeyes career. Big bounce-back test this week at Illinois.  

3. Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Record so far: 10-5 overall, 6-3 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 19, Coaches No. 22, kenpom.com No. 8
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 5
  • Last week:  Beat Penn State 79-65; Michigan State (ppd.)
  • This week: Versus Iowa (Friday, 9 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: The Illini jump over Wisconsin into our third spot, which might surprise some people. It probably has a little bit to do with Wisconsin falling from grace a bit more in my eyes. We'll learn a lot about Illinois on Friday. They want to contend for the Big Ten title, they need to beat Iowa at home.

4. Wisconsin Badgers

  • Record so far: 12-4 overall, 6-3 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 14, Coaches No. 13, kenpom.com No. 11
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 3
  • Last week:  Beat Northwestern 68-52; Lost to Ohio State 74-62
  • This week: At Maryland (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET); at Penn State (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: Wisconsin stumbled again, losing at home to Ohio State and they've just not looked very good the past couple of weeks. That's a bit surprising for a team loaded with seniors. This is a good week to add a couple victories to the resume.

5. Purdue Boilermakers

  • Record so far: 11-6 overall, 6-4 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 37, Coaches No. 36, kenpom.com No. 30
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 7
  • Last week: Beat Ohio State 67-65; Lost to Michigan 70-53
  • This week: Versus Minnesota, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • The skinny: There's a bit of a gap between the top four and the next five in my book, and I gave Purdue the edge over Ohio State because of the two head-to-head wins over the Buckeyes. They looked lost without Sasha Stefanovic in the blowout loss to Michigan on Friday, so it's going to be interesting to see how they come together from that.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Record so far: 12-4 overall, 6-4 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 13, Coaches No. 15, kenpom.com No. 12
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 6
  • Last week: Lost to Purdue 67-65; Beat Wisconsin 74-62
  • This week: Versus Penn State (Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET); Versus Michigan State (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: Ohio State is still the most difficult team in the Big Ten to figure out in my book. There are times they look as good as anyone, but then they struggle for long stretches in games, too. Their overall resume is probably better than Purdue's, but you can't overlook those two losses. Still, three straight road wins over ranked opponents is impressive.

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Record so far: 11-5 overall, 4-5 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 21, Coaches No. 20, kenpom.com No. 28
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 4
  • Last week: Nebraska (ppd.); Lost to Maryland 63-49 
  • This week: At Purdue (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: I did say I probably had them overrated last week and I was right. That home loss to Maryland was ugly, and that doesn't usually happen at The Barn. It's going to be interesting to see what a week of practice will do prior to Saturday's game at Purdue. 

8. Indiana Hoosiers

  • Record so far: 9-7 overall, 4-5 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 24
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 10
  • Last week: Beat Iowa 81-69; Lost to Rutgers 74-70
  • This week: At Michigan (ppd.)
  • The skinny: Indiana pulled off the biggest upset of the Big Ten season with that stunning win over No. 4-ranked Iowa on Thursday night. Then they turned right around on Sunday and lost to Rutgers. I'm only ranking them ahead of Rutgers right now because of the value of that Iowa win.

9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Record so far: 8-6 overall, 4-6 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 40
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 9
  • Last week: Lost to Penn State 75-67; Beat Indiana 74-70
  • This week: Versus Michigan State (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET); At Northwestern (Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: Rutgers got back on track with an impressive win over Indiana, and it's a big week to add a couple more wins. They get a break playing Michigan State after a long COVID-related layoff.

10. Northwestern Wildcats

  • Record so far: 6-8 overall, 3-7 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 67
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 8
  • Last week: Lost to Wisconsin 68-52; Lost to Penn State 81-78
  • This week: Versus Rutgers (Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: Northwestern has lost seven in a row since that 3-0 start that now seems like an eternity ago. Chris Collins has a challenge on his hands in keeping a positive vibe with this group.

11. Michigan State Spartans

  • Record so far: 8-4 overall, 2-4 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: Coaches No. 40, kenpom.com No. 44
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 11
  • Last week: Illinois (ppd.)
  • This week: At Rutgers (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET); At Ohio State (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: The Spartans haven't played since losing to Purdue on Jan. 8, and they won't be at full strength when they return to action on Thursday. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo isn't sure what to expect from his group, especially with practically no practice time this month.

12. Maryland Terrapins

  • Record so far: 9-7 overall, 3-6 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 41
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 12
  • Last week: Lost to Michigan 87-63; Beat Minnesota 63-49
  • This week: Versus Wisconsin (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET); 
  • The skinny: The Terrapins proved a lot in the win at Minnesota, and it shows they are capable of scaring some teams. Being ranked this low shows the strength of this conference. There will be more upsets along the way. 

13. Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Record so far: 5-6 overall, 2-5 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 46
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 13
  • Last week: Lost to Illinois 79-65; Beat Rutgers 75-67; Beat Northwestern 81-78 
  • This week: At Ohio State (Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET); Versus Wisconsin (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: Penn State had a busy week after a long layoff and got two wins in three tries. They're playing good ball, and the Buckeyes and Badgers need to be on upset alert this week.

14. Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Record so far: 4-8 overall, 0-5 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 125
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 14
  • Last week: Minnesota (ppd.); Iowa (ppd.)
  • This week: Penn State (ppd.)
  • The skinny: Fred Hoiberg's team hasn't played since Jan. 10 because of COVID. It looks like they'll be able to return next week with a Feb. 3 game at Michigan State.