The only thing that’s certain in the Big Ten this season is uncertainty.
11 of the conference’s 14 teams are within three games of each other, and with the incredible depth the Big Ten boasts this year, it’s foolish to write any team off no matter the circumstances.
I could go on and on about how entertaining the Big Ten is to follow because of the upsets night-in and night-out. I could discuss how the Big Ten could take over the NCAA Tournament with the number of teams it’s projected to send.
But in my opinion, the best way to grasp the insanity of Big Ten play is to look at my power rankings from last week.
Take those in, because this week’s list had the most week-to-week shakeup as I’ve had all season. In fact, only one team in last week’s top ten holds the same spot it did last week.
Without further adieu, let’s get into the week 13 Big Ten power rankings. All records are accurate as of Feb. 5.
1. Maryland Terrapins (18-4, 8-3 Big Ten)
Mark Turgeon’s group is the most consistent team in the Big Ten, and the Terrapins’ performance last week proved they were worthy of the No. 1 spot in this week’s rankings.
Maryland handled then-No. 18 Iowa on Jan. 30 in an 82-72 home victory that snapped the Hawkeyes’ five-game winning streak. Senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. torched Iowa’s defense with a career-high 31 points while sophomore forward Jalen Smith added 18 points and 14 rebounds.
The Terrapins’ contest against Rutgers on Feb. 4 was much less appealing to watch, but Maryland escaped at home with a 56-51 victory. The win not only extended the Terrapins’ winning streak to five games, but also moved their home record to 13-0 this season.
Cowan Jr. led Maryland’s offense against the Scarlet Knights with 17 points, but Smith stole the show. The Maryland native posted his fifth-straight double-double in Tuesday’s contest with 14 points and 15 rebounds. He added a career-high six blocked shots.
This week, Maryland travels to No. 20 Illinois on Feb. 7 and hosts Nebraska on Feb. 11.
2. Penn State Nittany Lions (17-5, 7-4 Big Ten)
It’s time to talk about Penn State as a legitimate Big Ten title contender.
The Nittany Lions did last week what Big Ten teams have failed to do all season — win on the road. Penn State won in Lincoln against Nebraska 76-64 on Feb. 1 in a game that was not as close as the scoreboard indicated, and followed that up with the biggest win of its season so far.
Pat Chambers’ squad pulled off a 75-70 upset of No. 16 Michigan State in East Lansing on Feb. 4. The win marked Penn State’s first victory at Michigan State since 2009 and just its second victory over the Spartans in 25 games.
Senior forward Lamar Stevens led the Nittany Lions with 24 points and sophomore guard Myreon Jones had a career-high six 3-pointers en route to 20 total points. Outside of Jones’ excellent shooting night, the Nittany Lions only made three 3-pointers.
But it was enough, and Penn State is rising in the Big Ten standings quickly during its five-game winning streak. The Nittany Lions will look to extend their winning stretch this week, as they host Minnesota on Feb. 8 and travel to Purdue on Feb. 11.
3. Michigan State Spartans (16-7, 8-4 Big Ten)
This was a week Michigan State will want to quickly forget.
The Spartans were flat in the first half of their Feb. 1 contest with Wisconsin, as the Badgers shot 57.7% from the field in the first half and built a 43-27 halftime lead. Senior guard Cassius Winston pulled Michigan State back in the second half, but his game-high 23 points weren’t enough to deliver a road victory.
Junior forward Xavier Tillman had a night to forget against Wisconsin. He was abysmal in the paint, missing critical layups and dunks that could’ve pulled the Spartans back into the game. He shot 3-15 from the field, but did collect 14 rebounds.
It was more of the same on Feb. 4 against Penn State. Winston was phenomenal, with 25 points and nine assists to pace the Spartan offense. Once again, Tillman had a quiet night with nine points. No Spartans were in double figures in their 75-70 loss to Penn State besides Winston.
This is a concerning trend. Michigan State needs more out of Tillman and needs more consistent scoring behind Winston. Otherwise, a team that had high hopes entering the season could fizzle out quickly in March.
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Spartans this week. Michigan State travels to Michigan to face the Wolverines on Feb. 8 and visits No. 20 Illinois on Feb. 11
4. Illinois Fighting Illini (16-6, 8-3 Big Ten)
Illinois extended its winning streak to seven games on Jan. 30 with a 59-51 victory over Minnesota, but it wasn’t pretty.
The Illini shot 33% from the field and 20% from 3-point range, doing just enough to hold off a late Minnesota comeback. Freshman center Kofi Cockburn posted another double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and senior guard Andres Feliz chipped in with a team-high 17 points off the bench.
However, Illinois’ win streak came to an end on Super Bowl Sunday, as Illinois fell 72-65 in Iowa City to No. 18 Iowa. Cockburn was kept quiet with six points and six rebounds as Feliz scored 17 points off the bench for the second consecutive game. Brad Underwood’s squad didn’t have the firepower to slow down Iowa’s electric offense, a problem that could sink the Illini in March.
Illinois will look to bounce back from a disappointing defeat as it hosts No. 9 Maryland on Feb. 7 and No. 16 Michigan State on Feb. 11.
5. Iowa Hawkeyes (16-7, 7-5 Big Ten)
The Hawkeyes had an up-and-down week.
Iowa lost 82-72 to then-No. 15 Maryland on the road on Jan. 30, a game where junior center Luka Garza was in foul trouble for the latter portion of the second half. The Hawkeyes competed at the Xfinity Center, but couldn’t hit the shots or make the stops to get Maryland’s lead inside of seven points in the game’s final minutes.
Garza led the Hawkeyes in scoring with 21 points, but they still fell in their first ranked battle of the week.
That was not the case against then-No. 19 Illinois, as Garza, freshman guard CJ Fredrick and sophomore guard Joe Wieskamp paced the Hawkeye offense in a 72-65 victory. Garza led the way with 25 points and 10 rebounds while Fredrick and Wieskamp both had 18 points.
Iowa didn’t have a single point from its bench against the Illini, which is a troubling sign moving forward. The Hawkeyes’ “Big Three” of Garza, Fredrick and Wieskamp are good enough to win games, but Iowa needs consistent production from its bench or the other two starters in order to make a deep NCAA Tournament run.
The Hawkeyes also faced Purdue on the road on Feb. 5, losing in blowout fashion. More on that later.
Iowa hosts Nebraska on Feb. 8.
6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (16-7, 7-5 Big Ten)
I’ll start with the bad news for Steve Pikiell’s group.
The Scarlet Knights’ 69-63 loss to Michigan at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 1 and their 56-51 loss to No. 9 Maryland on Feb. 4 was a harsh dose of reality for a program riding high after an AP Top 25 ranking a few weeks ago.
Rutgers shot the ball poorly in both contests, going 33% from the field and 25% from 3-point range against Michigan and 34% from the field and 18% from 3-point range against Maryland. If Rutgers hit one or two more shots against Maryland on Tuesday, the outcome would’ve been much different. A dunk by sophomore center Myles Johnson cut Maryland’s lead to 52-51 with 1:58 left to go in the second half, but Rutgers failed to score for the rest of the game.
Now, for the good news. Rutgers is still undefeated at home and boasts victories over Seton Hall and Penn State that look better and better as the season progresses. The Scarlet Knights still have the No. 14 scoring defense in the country, allowing 60.9 points per game.
Rutgers is in position to secure its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991, but it needs to take care of business over the final months of the season. This week, Rutgers hosts Northwestern on Feb. 9 and visits Ohio State on Feb. 12.
7. Wisconsin Badgers (13-10, 6-6 Big Ten)
Wisconsin basketball had an eventful week to say the least.
Junior guard Brad Davison was suspended for Wisconsin’s contest against then-No. 14 Michigan State on Feb. 1 and sophomore guard Kobe King recently left the program. That didn’t matter, and the Badgers used a balanced offensive attack to upset the Spartans at the Kohl Center.
Junior forward Nate Reuvers led Wisconsin with 15 points and junior guard D’Mitrik Trice followed up with 14 points. In all, four Badgers finished in double-digits.
Davison’s return to the lineup on Feb. 5 against Minnesota didn’t go as planned, as the Badgers lost 70-52 on the road. Wisconsin had a horrible night shooting the ball, going 28% from the field and 24% from 3-point range. Davison had four points while Reuvers led Wisconsin in scoring again with 14 points.
This week, Wisconsin hosts Ohio State on Feb. 9.
8. Purdue Boilermakers (13-10, 6-6 Big Ten)
What Purdue did to Iowa on Feb. 5 shouldn’t have been allowed to air on primetime television.
Matt Painter’s squad dominated a ranked opponent at Mackey Arena for the third time this season, but the victory over No. 17 Iowa was different. Purdue had an offensive explosion against the visiting Hawkeyes, shooting 63% from the field and 56% from 3-point range in a 104-68 victory.
Purdue scored 61 points in the first half and five Boilermakers finished the contest in double-digits. Despite their seemingly unimpressive record, the Boilermakers have impressive victories over Virginia, VCU, Michigan State and Iowa on their resume.
Purdue also beat Northwestern 61-58 this week on Feb. 1.
The Boilermakers will look to improve their resume when they face Indiana on the road on Feb. 8 and host No. 22 Penn State on Feb. 11.
9. Ohio State Buckeyes (15-7, 5-6 Big Ten)
Chris Holtmann’s squad has quietly won three games in a row, including a big home victory over Indiana on Feb. 1.
Ohio State’s 68-59 victory over the Hoosiers was boosted by the Buckeyes shooting 50% from 3-point range in the second half. Junior forward Kaleb Wesson had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes and junior guard CJ Walker had 14 points.
Kaleb Wesson was spectacular again in Ohio State’s 61-58 victory on the road against Michigan on Feb. 4. He led the Buckeye offense again with 23 points and 12 rebounds while sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr. had 17 points.
Ohio State’s two victories come after freshman guard DJ Carton announced he would be temporarily stepping away from the program to deal with some mental health issues. Good on Carton for not only getting the help he needs, but also bringing attention to the mental health struggles collegiate and professional athletes face.
Ohio State visits Wisconsin on Feb. 9 and hosts Rutgers on Feb. 12.
10. Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-10, 6-6 Big Ten)
For all the attention that Luka Garza is getting, Golden Gopher sophomore center Daniel Oturu is flying under the radar as one of the best big men in the Big Ten.
Oturu is averaging 19.6 points per game and 11.3 rebounds per game and his 11.3 rebounds per game are seventh-best in the country. He had 20 points and eight rebounds in Minnesota’s 59-51 loss to Illinois on Jan. 30 and 17 points and 14 rebounds in the Golden Gophers’ 70-52 victory over Wisconsin on Feb. 5.
Junior guard Payton Willis scored a career-high 21 points to lead Minnesota’s offense against the Badgers. Minnesota has an impressive record and some quality pieces, but it needs a resume-boosting win.
Minnesota has the opportunity to get that win when it visits No. 22 Penn State on Feb. 8.
Rest of the Big Ten
11. Michigan Wolverines (13-9, 4-7 Big Ten)
12. Indiana Hoosiers (15-7, 5-6 Big Ten)
13. Nebraska Huskers (7-15, 2-9 Big Ten)
14. Northwestern Wildcats (6-15, 1-10 Big Ten)