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Rod Beard ranks the Big Ten basketball teams for the week beginning Monday, Jan. 26:

1. Wisconsin (18-2, 6-1): After a 32-point statement win over Iowa and an overtime road victory at Michigan, the Badgers are gaining their stride. Frank Kaminsky averaged 17.5 points and 10 rebounds in the two games and showed his versatility. Last week: 2

2. Maryland (18-3, 6-2): A road loss at Indiana dropped the Terrapins a notch, but they'll have another tough test against Ohio State on Thursday. They were able to avoid an upset and eke out a 68-67 win over Northwestern. Last week: 1

3. Ohio State (16-5, 5-3): D'Angelo Russell showed why he's one of the best freshmen in the country, with 22 points, six rebounds and 10 assists in beating Indiana. A win over Maryland on Thursday can solidify the Buckeyes' standing as a contender. Last week: 5

4. Indiana (15-5, 5-2): The Hoosiers had a good win over Maryland but lost at Ohio State. They're averaging 72 points in conference play and were ranked last week (No. 23) for the first time since the end of the 2013 season. Last week: 3

5. Nebraska (12-7, 4-3): After a rough start, the Huskers have four home wins in the last five games, only losing at Wisconsin. Terran Petteway had 32 points in a win over Michigan State. They finish with seven of 11 on the road, which will test their mettle. Last week: 10

6. Iowa (13-7, 4-3): The Hawkeyes were embarrassed by Wisconsin in a 32-point blowout and lost at Purdue. They've been enigmatic in big games but get another shot to redeem themselves at home this week against the Badgers. Last week: 4

7. Michigan (12-8, 5-3): The Wolverines rallied to win at Rutgers and took Wisconsin to the wire in an overtime loss. The bench is playing better but Zak Irvin will have to improve to have a shot of keeping their four-year NCAA Tournament streak alive. Last week: 6

8. Michigan State (13-7, 4-3): A win at Penn State salvaged a rough week, as their rally fell short in a loss at Nebraska. This week's games at Rutgers and home against Michigan will give them a chance to take a step up. Last week: 7

9. Purdue (12-8, 4-3): They fell at Illinois but beat Iowa to stay in the league race. Rapheal Davis had 24 points against the Hawkeyes. Freshman center Isaac Haas (10 points, four rebounds) had his best game of the Big Ten season. Last week: 8

10. Illinois (13-8, 3-5): The back-and-forth, alternating wins and losses continued with a win over Purdue and a loss at Minnesota. Playing with a roster of only seven due to injuries, the Illini promoted a senior team manager to the roster. Last week: 11

11. Minnesota (13-8, 2-6): Following an 0-5 Big Ten start, the Gophers have won two of the last three, with home wins over Rutgers and Illinois. Andre Hollins has been the catalyst, scoring 80 points in the last three games, including 28 vs. the Illini. Last week: 13

12. Northwestern (10-10, 1-6): The Wildcats seem to be snake-bitten, having dropped their last four games by a total of 10 points. They've been competitive in all seven conference games, except the loss to Wisconsin. Last week: 12

13. Penn State (13-7, 1-6): The Nittany Lions ended their six-game losing streak — five by single digits — with a 28-point drubbing of Rutgers. It's the first conference win and first victory since Dec. 22. Last week: 14

14. Rutgers (10-11, 2-6): After taking Michigan to the wire at home, the Scarlet Knights were embarrassed at Penn State. Offense is an issue, as they've topped 70 points only three times this season. Last week: 9

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

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