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Rod Beard rankings the Big Ten basketball teams for the week beginning Monday, Feb. 23.

1. Wisconsin (25-2, 13-1)

With matchups at Maryland and against Michigan State this week, Wisconsin has a tough remaining schedule. Three of the final four on the road, but with two wins, the Badgers can clinch the title. Last week: 1

2. Maryland (22-5, 10-4)

Maryland squeaked past Nebraska behind Melo Trimble's 26 points, six rebounds and five assists. The showdown against Wisconsin should be one of the better games this season. Last week: 2

3. Purdue (18-9, 10-4)

A road victory over Indiana completed the sweep, and A.J. Hammonds (20 points, four blocks) is making Purdue formidable inside. Matt Painter deserves votes for Big Ten coach of the year. Last week: 3

4. Michigan State (19-8, 10-4)

With a four-game wining streak, Michigan State is one of the hottest teams in the conference. Denzel Valentine is quietly improving and Branden Dawson is under-appreciated. Last week: 4

5. Indiana (19-8, 9-6)

After being swept by Purdue, Indiana bludgeoned Rutgers by 30. The Hoosiers haven't won two straight in a month but will try to sneak up to get the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament. Last week: 6

6. Ohio State (19-8, 8-6)

Losing back-to-back games at Michigan State and at Michigan pushed Ohio State out of contention. D'Angelo Russell averages 19 points and continues to impress, but his supporting cast has to be more consistent down the stretch. Last week: 5

7. Iowa (17-10, 8-6)

With two needed wins over Rutgers and Nebraska in lopsided fashion, Iowa got a needed boost. The Hawkeyes will need a big finish to have a chance to finish in the top tier. Last week: 9

8. Illinois (17-10, 7-7)

Illinois let one slip away to Michigan State, but can turn things around at Iowa. With two straight losses, Illinois has hurt its NCAA chances and has a difficult road with Iowa, Northwestern, Nebraska and Purdue left. Last week: 7

9. Michigan (14-13, 7-8)

Snapping a five-game skid revived Michigan's slim postseason chances. Beating Ohio State is the best win this season. Spike Albrecht is showing his worth. Last week: 10

10. Northwestern (13-14, 4-10)

After a slew of close games, Northwestern has won three straight. The Wildcats had 15 3-pointers in a victory over the Gophers and are setting a foundation. Last week: 13

11. Minnesota (16-12, 5-10)

Following a surge, Minnesota has lost three straight, including a head-scratching home loss to Northwestern. The next two (at Michigan State and vs. Wisconsin) will be tough tests. Last week: 8

12. Nebraska (13-14, 5-10)

After a promising year, the Cornhuskers have fallen off the rails, with seven losses in eight games. Coach Tim Miles banned them from the new locker room because he said they didn't deserve it. Last week: 11

13. Penn State (15-13, 3-12)

In a 60-39 loss at Northwestern, Penn State's effort was feeble. D.J. Newbill (20.5 points) leads the Big Ten in scoring but was held to three points. Last week: 12

14. Rutgers (10-18, 2-13)

Rutgers last won Jan. 11, dealing Wisconsin its only loss. Since then, it has lost 11 straight. In those games, they've scored more than 60 three times. Last week: 14

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