Power rankings always create debate, and that's especially true in the Big Ten, where there's a lot of talent throughout the league. And he we are, in just our second ranking, ready to perturb a few fan bases.
We'll start with the Purdue Boilermakers. Even though their the highest-ranked team in the Associated Press and Coaches polls this week, I've bumped them out of the top spot in my rankings and moved Michigan State to No. 1.
Well, with both teams at 13-2 overall, I gave a little extra weight to the Spartans being perfect in the Big Ten as opposed to the Boilers, who have two Big Ten losses already, including one at home last Monday against Wisconsin.
I even thought long and hard about dropping them all the way to No. 3, but all of those nice preseason wins mean a little more than what Illinois has done so far.
The big mover in our second poll was Rutgers, which jumped from No. 12 to No. 7, validating its December win over then No. 1-ranked Purdue with wins over Michigan and Nebraska this week. Minnesota, Northwestern and Maryland all dropped two spots.
Here we go with Round 2 of our Big Ten Power Rankings:
1. Michigan State Spartans
- Records: 13-2 overall, 4-0 in Big Ten
- Rankings: Currently No. 10 in the Associated Press poll and No. 9 in the Coaches Poll. Ranked No. 19 in Kenpom.com
- Previous power ranking: No. 2.
- Last week: Beat Nebraska 79-67, Michigan ppd. (COVID)
- This week: Wednesday vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m. ET; Saturday vs. Northwestern, Noon ET
- The skinny: Tom Izzo has had Michigan State teams at the top of our rankings many times before, and here he is again. The Spartans are unbeaten in the league, but the schedule has been a little soft. Those only two losses, though, were to then No. 3 Kansas and current No. 1 Baylor. I'm not making any guarantees that they'll stay here, but they have looked good so far.
2. Purdue Boilermakers
- Records: 13-2 overall, 2-2 in Big Ten.
- Rankings: Currently No. 7 in the Associated Press poll and No. 5 in the Coaches Poll as of Jan. 10. Ranked No. 6 in Kenpom.com.
- Previous power ranking: No. 1.
- Last week: Lost to Wisconsin 74-69, won at Penn State 74-67,
- This week: Tuesday at Michigan (ppd. COVID); Friday vs. Nebraska, 6:30 p.m. ET.
- The skinny: Purdue was the clear No. 1 in our first power ranking, but they've raised enough red flags to get knocked down a spot. Losing at home to Wisconsin hurt, certainly, but that lost to Rutgers is still on the resume, too, as is blowing big leads in wins over Iowa and Penn State. Since being ranked No. 1 in the country for the first time in early December, they've been heading back in the other direction a bit. Still a loaded and talented team, but they need to regain that early-season form.
3. Illinois Fighting Illini
- Records: 11-3 overall, 4-0 in Big Ten
- Rankings: Ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll and No. 24 in the Coaches Poll. Ranked No. 12 in Kenpom.com.
- Previous power ranking: No. 3.
- Last week: Beat Minnesota 76-53, beat Maryland 76-64.
- This week: Tuesday at Nebraska, 8:30 p.m. ET; Friday vs. Michigan, 9 p.m. ET.
- The skinny: Illinois has been a handful in Big Ten play, and the 4-0 start has been impressive. Kofi Cockburn has won three Player of the Week awards already. Looking forward to next Monday's game with Purdue, and the battle of the big men.
4. Wisconsin Badgers
- Records: 13-2 overall, 4-1 in Big Ten
- Rankings: Currently No. 13 in both the AP and Coaches polls. Ranked No. 30 in Kenpom.com
- Previous power ranking: No. 5.
- Last week: Beat Purdue 74-69, beat Iowa 87-78, beat Maryland 70-69,
- This week: Thursday vs. Ohio State, 7 p.m. ET;
- The skinny: Wisconsin just continues to impress and, to be honest, I probably have them ranked too low. Sure, they beat Purdue, but I still have to factor in all 15 games for both of them. Johnny Davis has been terrific and Brad Davison just keeps hitting big shots. And the bigs are better than advertised. Tyler Wahl's 21 points at Maryland were impressive.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes
- Records: 10-3 overall, 4-1 in Big Ten.
- Rankings: Currently No. 16 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the Coaches poll. Ranked No. 21 in Kenpom.com
- Previous power ranking: No. 4.
- Last week: Beat Nebraska 87-79 in OT, lost at Indiana 67-51, beat Northwestern 95-87.
- This week: Thursday at Wisconsin, 7 p.m. ET; Sunday vs. Penn State, Noon ET.
- The skinny: Indiana did a great job of shutting down E.J. Liddell in that loss in Bloomington, holding him to 11 points, but he bounced back quickly with a huge performance against Northwestern, scoring 34 points. There's a lot to like with this team, and I'm curious to see how quickly freshman Malaki Branham continues to blossom.
6. Indiana Hoosiers
- Records: 12-3 overall, 3-2 in Big Ten
- Rankings: The Hoosiers aren't ranked, but received 12 votes in the AP poll, good for No. 31, and six votes in the Coaches Poll, for No. 32. Ranked No. 24 in Kenpom.com.
- Previous power ranking: No. 6.
- Last week: Lost to Penn State 61-58, beat Ohio State 67-51, beat Minnesota 70-63.
- This week: Thursday at Iowa, 9 p.m. ET.
- The skinny: The Hoosiers posted a pair of nice wins over Ohio State and Minnesota at home, but the loss at Penn State stopped me from moving them up. Indiana continues to get better, but they've got to start winning on the road. The next two at Iowa and at Nebraska are critical for the Hoosiers.
7. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Records: 9-5 overall, 3-1 in Big Ten.
- Rankings: The Scarlet Knights are not ranked. Ranked No. 87 in Kenpom.com.
- Previous power ranking: No. 12.
- Last week: Beat Michigan 75-67, beat Nebraska 93-65.
- This week: Tuesday at Penn State, 6:30 p.m. ET; Saturday vs. Maryland, 2 p.m. ET
- The skinny: Ron Harper Jr. has been terrific lately, and the Scarlet Knights have been playing at a high level in posting a 3-1 league record. They made our biggest jump, and for good reason. I considered that upset of Purdue a bit of an outlier at the time, because their November wasn't at all impressive. Now I'm sold, and they are certainly a tough out at home.
8. Iowa Hawkeyes
- Records: 11-4 overall, 1-3 in Big Ten
- Rankings: The Hawkeyes are not ranked. Ranked No. 27 in Kenpom.com
- Previous power ranking: No. 8.
- Last week: Beat Maryland 80-75, lost to Wisconsin 87-78
- This week: Thursday vs. Iowa, 9 p.m. ET; Sunday at Minnesota, 2 p.m. ET.
- The skinny: Iowa is struggling through the early portion of its Big Ten schedule, but the Hawkeyes are certainly a team to still keep an eye on. They have played the toughest league schedule so far, and it's not even close. Thursday's game with Indiana at home is huge. Remember last year? That Hawkeyes team was better than this one, and they lost twice to the Hoosiers.
9. Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Records: 10-3 overall, 1-3 in Big Ten
- Rankings: The Gophers are unranked. Ranked No. 86 in Kenpom.com
- Previous power ranking: No. 7.
- Last week: Lost to Illinois 76-53, lost at Indiana 70-63
- This week: Wednesday at Michigan State, 7 p.m. ET; Sunday vs. Iowa, 2 p.m. ET.
- The skinny: The Gophers have two really nice players in Jamison Battle and Payton Willis, but there's not a lot after that, and it's starting to get exposed in Big Ten play. First-year coach Ben Johnson is doing a nice job, but he's going to need to beef up the roster in the next year or two.
10. Michigan Wolverines
- Records: 7-6 overall, 1-2 in Big Ten
- Rankings: Currently unranked. Ranked No. 28 in Kenpom.com
- Previous power ranking: No. 9.
- Last week: Lost to Rutgers 75-67, Michigan State ppd. (COVID).
- This week: Tuesday's vs. Purdue (ppd. COVID); Friday at Illinois, 9 p.m. ET.
- The skinny: Michigan was a preseason darling, but they've got six losses already and now they're dealing with serious COVID issues inside the program. They've been forced to postpone two games already, and have a really tough test on Friday at Illinois. It's going to be interesting to see when — or if — this team turns the corner.
11. Penn State Nittany Lions
- Records: 7-6 overall, 2-3 in Big Ten.
- Rankings: Penn State is unranked. Ranked No. 76 in Kenpom.com.
- Previous power ranking: No. 13.
- Last week: Beat Indiana 61-58, beat Northwestern 73-70, lost to Purdue 74-67.
- This week: Tuesday vs. Rutgers, 6:30 p.m. ET; Sunday at Ohio State, Noon ET.
- The skinny: After two nice wins and a near-miss with Purdue, the Nittany Lions probably should be a little higher, but we'll need to see more. Some of the uglier early games still need to get factored in, of course, but Micah Shrewsberry is doing a nice job in his first year,
12. Northwestern Wildcats
- Records: 8-5 overall, 1-3 in Big Ten.
- Rankings: The Wildcats are unranked. Ranked No. 45 in Kenpom.com.
- Previous power ranking: No. 10.
- Last week: Lost to Penn State 73-70, lost at Ohio State 95-87.
- This week: Wednesday vs. Maryland, 9 p.m. ET; Saturday at Michigan State, Noon ET.
- The skinny: The Wildcats really should have won that Penn State game, letting a nice lead slip away. There's a lot to like about this team, but getting stops late is always going to be a concern. They are going to beat some good teams this year, but they've also struggle at odd times, too.
13. Maryland Terrapins
- Records: 8-7 overall, 0-4 in Big Ten.
- Rankings: The Terrapins aren't ranked. Ranked No. 67 in Kenpom.com.
- Previous power ranking: No. 11.
- Last week: Lost to Iowa 80-75, lost to Illinois 76-64, lost to Wisconsin 70-69.
- This week: Wednesday at Northwestern, 9 p.m.; Saturday vs. Rutgers, 2 p.m. ET
- The skinny: Maryland has never started a Big Ten season at 0-4 until this year, and they've been battling, just with no results. That was a great comeback from 21 points down against Wisconsin, but they just ran out of time. With interim coach Danny Manning on the case, I'll be curious what the buy-in is going to be on this team if the losing continues.
14. Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Records: 6-10 overall, 0-5 in Big Ten.
- Rankings: Nebraska is not ranked. Ranked No. 156 in Kenpom.com.
- Previous power ranking: No. 14.
- Last week: Lost to Ohio State 87-79 in OT, lost to Rutgers 93-65. lost to Michigan State 79-67.
- This week: Tuesday vs. Illinois, 8:30 p.m. ET; Friday at Purdue, 6:30 p.m. ET.
- The skinny: Nebraska has had a few blowout losses that have been pretty ugly, but then they really battle through long stretches of games, too. The Cornhuskers had Ohio State beat, but let that one slip away at home. I feel for Fred Hoiberg a little bit. I'm sure he was expecting more out of this team this year.
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