In the final week of Big Ten Conference play, many teams are looking to make a statement. Minnesota is now out of contention for the conference championship, and only Penn State and Nebraska remain eligible to take home the Big Ten title. With the NCAA Tournament right around the corner, some middle-of-the-pack teams will be looking to end the regular season on a high note.
1. Penn State (27-1, 17-1)
Penn State has been dominant all season and shows no signs of slowing down. The Nittany Lions once again showed why they are ranked No. 1 in the country, as they swept both Indiana and Rutgers last week. PSU looked especially dominant against the Scarlet Knights, only allowing 23 points across three sets. The only thing separating Penn State and a Big Ten Conference championship is a Sept. 22 loss to Nebraska. Besides that, the Nittany Lions have been red hot.
2. Nebraska (24-4, 17-1)
Last week Nebraska showed why it is on track to win its second consecutive Big Ten Conference title, as the Huskers faced off with Ohio State and Maryland in back-to-back road matches. NU picked up a 3-1 victory against the Buckeyes, and then swept the Terrapins, barely allowing Maryland to generate any form of offense. With only two matches left in its regular season, Nebraska simply needs to take down both Northwestern and Iowa. If the Huskers can accomplish this, they will take home the conference title once again by virtue of their head-to-head win against Penn State earlier this season.
3. Minnesota (25-4, 14-4)
Minnesota is now out of contention for a conference championship, but finds itself moving up one spot in this week’s power rankings, regardless. That is simply due to the fact that Minnesota lost to a marginally better team than Michigan State did. Since Minnesota lost to Illinois and avoided a sweep, it finds itself in the No. 3 spot. The Golden Gophers need to find a way to bounce back. After their matchup with Rutgers this week, they face No. 1 Penn State in their final match of the regular season.
4. Michigan State (20-7, 13-5)
Michigan State drops a spot in this week's power rankings after suffering a sweep at the hands of Michigan. While the Spartans were able to bounce back with a win over Indiana, they need to do a lot more if they even want a chance of getting an NCAA tournament bid. With just two final road matches remaining in regular-season competition, MSU still has time to find its footing and take some momentum into the postseason.
5. Purdue (21-8, 11-7)
Despite having a rough week in Big Ten play, Purdue still remains in the No. 5 spot due to a combination of its record and a 3-0 sweep of Wisconsin last week. The Boilermakers went 1-1 on the week, sweeping Rutgers but losing to Michigan in four sets. While Michigan has been falling short of expectations lately, the loss hurts Purdue’s standing approaching the NCAA tournament. The Boilermakers will look to bounce back as they have a rematch with Michigan on Nov. 22. A win against the Wolverines could be a chance for Purdue to prove that its last meeting was a fluke.
6. Wisconsin (19-8, 10-8)
The Badgers remain at No. 6 in this week’s power rankings, but they managed to go 2-0 during the past week. Wisconsin took down Illinois in four sets before traveling to Northwestern to sweep the Wildcats. The Badgers have been hot recently, winning four of their last five matches. With the NCAA Tournament right around the corner, Wisconsin could make a case for a solid seed with a statement win over No. 1 Penn State when it takes on the Nittany Lions at home on Nov. 24.
7. Michigan (19-11, 9-9)
Michigan went on quite a run this week, knocking off two higher-ranked teams this week in conference play. A sweep over Michigan State was the highlight of the week, and the Wolverines finished it off with a 3-1 victory over Purdue. With a rematch against Purdue coming up, and a game over second-to-last-place Indiana, the Wolverines could very easily finish the season on a five match winning streak, possibly putting them into the postseason.
8. Illinois (19-10, 10-8)
The Fighting Illini drop one spot in the power rankings after going 1-1 on the week. After a crushing loss to Michigan last week, Illinois did not bounce back, suffering its third consecutive loss against Wisconsin. The Illini did shock Minnesota in a 3-1 victory, but that does not change the fact they have lost three of their last four matches. Illinois will look to finish the season off on a high note, as it has two winnable matches left on its schedule in the form of Iowa and Ohio State. These are must-wins if the Illini look to extend their season.
9. Iowa (18-13, 7-11)
Iowa moves up to No. 9 in the power rankings thanks to its sweep of Ohio State on Nov. 18. Even though they dropped a winnable match to Maryland, the Hawkeyes showed that they have potential to be an upper-middle tier team in the Big Ten during their sweep over the Buckeyes. While the postseason looks to be out of reach, the Hawkeyes can finish off their season strong with matches against Illinois and Nebraska.
10. Ohio State (14-15, 7-11)
The Buckeyes have had a rough go of it in Big Ten play, and last week was no different. Ohio State lost both of its matches, one to Nebraska, and a sweep from Iowa. The NCAA tournament is out of reach for OSU, but with two matches left on the schedule, the Buckeyes have a chance to end their season on a high note. Both matches are against middle-of-the-pack teams, as they head to Maryland before ending their season at home against Illinois.