Big Ten Power Rankings (March 1): Ohio State in Freefall, But How Long Will it Last?

The Ohio State Buckeyes, once a projected No. 1 seed, have now lost three games in a row, and the past couple of losses have showed some reason for concern.
Author:
Publish date:

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Sure, it's the Big Ten and the schedule has been brutal, but the Ohio State Buckeyes have suddenly lost three games in a row and the bloom is off the rose.

Just a few weeks go, the Buckeyes were considered a No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament, but consecutive losses to Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa has changed that perspective a bit.

The Michigan loss was tolerable, because that was a tremendous game between two teams playing at a high level. Michigan won by five, but it was a one- or -two-possession game the whole way.

But then the Buckeyes blew a nine-point second-half lead at Michigan State and were barely competitive in a home loss to Iowa on Sunday, losing by 16 and never threatening.

They've fallen out of that coveted top-four double bye spot in the Big Ten Tournament, and they've fallen hard in our Big Ten power rankings, too. The Buckeyes are still a threat, but now they suddenly need to figure a few things out.

And what about their confidence level? Where are we there? They need a big finish this week for sure.

Here are my rankings, from No. 1 to No. 14. Please weigh in with your thoughts.

1. Michigan Wolverines

  • Record so far: 18-1 overall, 13-1 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 2, Coaches No. 2, kenpom.com No. 2
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 1
  • Last week: Beat Iowa 79-57; Beat Indiana 73-57.
  • This week: Versus Illinois (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET); Versus Michigan State (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET); At Michigan State (Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: Michigan continues to impress, rolling to easy victories over Iowa and Indiana last week and proving once again that they really don't have any weakness. Archie Miller had nothing but praise after Indiana's loss, and said all that size in the lineup is hard to deal with on both sides of the court. They're a legitimate national title contender for sure.

2. Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Record so far: 18-6 overall, 14-4 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 4, Coaches No. 4, kenpom.com No. 6
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 3
  • Last week: Lost to Michigan State 81-72; Beat Nebraska 86-70, Beat Wisconsin 74-69.
  • This week: At Michigan (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET); At Ohio State (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: The Illini lost Ayo Dosunmu (broken nose) for a couple of games, and it's going to be interesting to see if he's ready to go this week with a tough finishing week at Michigan and Ohio State. He's listed as ''day-to-day'' for now. A couple of wins would start No. 1 seed talk for the Illini, too.

3. Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Record so far: 18-7 overall, 12-6 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 5, Coaches No. 8, kenpom.com No. 5
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 4
  • Last week: Lost at Michigan 79-57; Beat Ohio State 73-57.
  • This week: At Nebraska (Thursday, 9 p.m. ET); Versus Wisconsin (Sunday, 12:30 p.m. ET).
  • The skinny: Iowa's veteran roster keeps setting records. The latest was Jordan Bohannon setting the school assist record. He's also the leading three-point shooter and Luka Garza is the all-time leading scorer. They didn't play well at Michigan, but no one does. The Ohio State win was their best of the year.

4. Purdue Boilermakers

  • Record so far: 16-8 overall, 11-6 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 23, Coaches No. 23, kenpom.com No. 14
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 5
  • Last week: Beat Penn State 73-52.
  • This week: Versus Wisconsin (Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET); Versus Indiana (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: Purdue went on the road and got an impressive win in Happy Valley, and things broke perfectly for them with Ohio State's struggles. The Boilers are in the top-four now. But here's the big question. With home games against Wisconsin and Indiana, can they close it out?

5. Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Record so far: 18-7 overall, 12-7 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 7, Coaches No. 10, kenpom.com No. 7
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 3
  • Last week: Lost at Michigan State 71-67; Lost to Iowa 73-57.
  • This week: Versus Illinois (Saturday, 4 p.m.)
  • The skinny: The Buckeyes should really benefit from a week of practice after this three-game losing streak. It would be nice to catch their breath end the regular season with a win over a quality foe.

6. Maryland Terrapins

  • Record so far: 15-10 overall, 9-9 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 35, Coaches No. 31, kenpom.com No. 26
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 7
  • Last week: Beat Michigan State 73-55.
  • This week: Maryland at Northwestern (Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET); Versus Penn State (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET).
  • The skinny: The Terrapins have five in a row now after an impressive win over a Michigan State team that has been red hot. Wisconsin might be the better team, but I moved the Terps up to No. 6 because of the way they are winning. The defense has been sensational during this run.

7. Wisconsin Badgers

  • Record so far: 16-9 overall, 10-8 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: AP No. 25, Coaches No. 26, kenpom.com No. 12
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 6
  • Last week: Lost to Illinois 74-69.
  • This week: At Purdue (Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET); at Iowa (Sunday, 12:30 p.m. ET).
  • The skinny: Wisconsin's veteran team continues to disappoint, and this week isn't going to be easy, either. With time ticking down on their careers, will some of these seniors step up down the stretch?

8. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Record so far: 13-9 overall, 9-9 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: Coaches No. 41, Kenpom.com No. 27
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 7
  • Last week: Beat Indiana 74-63.
  • This week: At Nebraska (Monday, 7 p.m. ET); At Minnesota (Saturday Noon ET)
  • The skinny: Rutgers blew out Indiana, and looked good doing it after a shaky start. Rutgers set a school record with 11 Big Ten wins last year and could do it again with two road wins this week against teams that are really struggling.

9. Michigan State Spartans

  • Record so far: 13-10 overall, 7-10 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: Coaches No. 45, kenpom.com No. 62
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 10
  • Last week: Beat Illinois 81-72; Beat Ohio State 71-67, Lost At Maryland 73-55.
  • This week: Versus Indiana (Tuesday, 8 p.m.); At Michigan (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET); Versus Michigan (Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: The Spartans had back-to-back wins over top-five teams for the first time in school history, but that break-neck schedule finally caught up with them at Maryland, where it really looked like they ran out of gas. They are still back in the NCAA tourney hunt, but that means beating Indiana Tuesday and beating Michigan at least once this weekend. Is that too much to ask?

10. Indiana Hoosiers

  • Record so far: 12-12 overall, 7-10 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 37
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 9
  • Last week: Lost at Rutgers 74-63; Lost to Michigan 73-57.
  • This week: At Michigan State (Tuesday, 8 p.m.); At Purdue (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: Indiana has hit the skids in a big way, and with guard Armaan Franklin likely out for the rest or the season with a right foot injury, finding wins is going to be tough. The Hoosiers need two wins this week to get back in the NCAA talk, and, of course, a win Saturday would end a long losing streak to Purdue.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Record so far: 13-12 overall, 6-12 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 58
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 11
  • Last week: Lost to Northwestern 67-59; Lost to Nebraska 78-74.
  • This week: At Penn State (Wednesday, 7 p.m.); Versus Rutgers (Saturday, Noon ET).
  • The skinny: The Gophers were supposed to get well last week with games against the two bottom-dwellers in the Big Ten, and they lost them both. They need a win this week to start to feel good about themselves again.

12. Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Record so far: 8-13 overall, 5-12 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 40
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 12
  • Last week: Beat Nebraska 86-83; Lost at Purdue 73-52.
  • This week: Versus Minnesota (Wednesday, 7 p.m.); at Maryland (Sunday, 7 p.m.) ET.
  • The skinny: Penn State didn't show up as a slight favorite against Purdue, and got blown out at home, which hasn't happened often this year. It's going to be interesting to see how the Lions play out this season for interim coach Jim Ferry.

13. Northwestern Wildcats

  • Record so far: 7-14 overall, 4-13 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 71
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 13
  • Last week: Beat Minnesota 67-59.
  • This week: Versus Maryland (Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET); Versus Nebraska (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET)
  • The skinny: Northwestern finally got a win, beating Minnesota. The Wildcats went 71 days between wins, so that one had to feel good. It'll be nice if they can get another one this week. This team is better than their record indicates, which says more about the league than the Wildcats.

14. Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Record so far: 6-17 overall, 2-14 in the Big Ten
  • Current national ranking: kenpom.com No. 109
  • Previous Big Ten power rank: No. 14
  • Last week: Lost to Penn State 86-83; Lost to Illinois 86-70; Beat Minnesota 78-74.
  • This week: Versus Rutgers (Monday, 7 p.m. ET); At Iowa (Thursday, 9 p.m. ET) ; At Northwestern (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET).
  • The skinny: Nebraska got a nice win, too, which was nice. No one's been bothered more by COVID than the Cornhuskers have. It's almost over.