Matt Charboneau’s Big Ten Power Rankings

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

1. Iowa (19-4, 10-1 Big Ten): The Hawkeyes have bounced back from the loss at Maryland by winning three straight, setting up a trip to Indiana this week that could be Iowa’s toughest test the rest of the way.

2. Maryland (21-3, 10-2): The Terrapins have won four straight since losing at Michigan State, including victories at home against Iowa and Purdue. They’ll be challenged down the stretch with games at Purdue and Indiana.

3. Michigan State (20-4, 7-4): The Spartans have won four straight, a run that started with a win over Maryland. They’ll likely get Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. back soon to add to a rotation that is hitting its stride, led by seniors Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello.

4. Indiana (19-5, 9-2): The Hoosiers face a tough week coming up and an upset loss at Penn State on Saturday was not the way to build momentum. Indiana hosts Iowa and travels to Michigan State this week, a stretch that could determine whether the Hoosiers stay in the race or fade.

5. Purdue (19-5, 7-4): The Boilermakers have lost two of their last four and haven’t proven they can beat the best teams in the Big Ten. They’ll get a shot Tuesday to turn that tide when Michigan State comes to town with games against Indiana and Maryland still to come.

6. Wisconsin (14-9, 6-4): The Badgers have won five straight after suffering multiple close losses early in the season. They’ll go as far as Nigel Hayes will take them, but freshman Ethan Happ has improved. The Badgers have a two-game stretch coming at Maryland and at Michigan State that will be vital.

7. Michigan (17-7, 7-4): The Wolverines were feeling good after four straight wins, but a couple of blowout losses at home at the hands of Indiana and Michigan State have them reeling. There’s no timetable on Caris LeVert’s return as Michigan must find a way to turn the tide and keep NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

8. Ohio State (14-10, 6-5): The Buckeyes are young, but have been steadily improving throughout the season despite consecutive losses last week to Maryland and Wisconsin. They’ve got some solid wins, including a victory over Kentucky, but making a late push for the NCAA Tournament will be tough with a brutal remaining schedule.

9. Nebraska (13-11, 5-6): It’s been an up-and-down season for the Cornhuskers. They won four straight at one point, including a road victory over Michigan State, but three straight losses followed. The Huskers turned it around Saturday with a win over Rutgers but lost Shavon Shields, who will go through concussion protocol after a nasty fall.

10. Northwestern (16-8, 4-7): Injuries have been a problem for the Wildcats while guards Bryant McIntosh and Tre Demps have struggled. A win over Minnesota over the weekend ended a five-game skid and a favorable schedule to finish gives Northwestern a shot at a 20-win season and hopes for their first NCAA Tournament bid.

11. Penn State (12-12, 3-8): The Nittany Lions have been in their share of battles this season and finally came out on top with an upset of Indiana over the weekend. The program is headed in the right direction and finding a way to an NIT spot this season would be a key step forward.

12. Illinois (11-13, 3-8): The Fighting Illini avoided disaster by beating Rutgers last week in triple overtime, but the highlights have been few this season as coach John Groce is firmly on the hot seat. There are winnable games left, but not enough for the Illini to end up in the top half of the conference.

13. Minnesota (6-17, 0-11): Probably the most disappointing team in the Big Ten this season, the Gophers have had their share of competitive games but haven’t been able to come up with a win. They get Rutgers twice before the end of the season, maybe the best shot to get that elusive victory.

14. Rutgers (6-18, 0-11): Things are not good for the Scarlet Knights, who missed their best chance for a Big Ten win by letting Illinois off the hook before falling in triple-overtime. The season ends with a visit from Minnesota, where one team will likely still be looking for that first win.