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Matt Charboneau’s final Big Ten Power Rankings

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Matt Charboneau’s final Big Ten rankings for the 2015-16 season:

1. Michigan State (26-5, 13-5): The Spartans are hitting their stride and enter the conference tournament as the favorite. A couple of wins in Indy could lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

2. Indiana (25-6, 15-3): It’s a tough call putting the conference champ second, especially after closing with five straight wins. And with Yogi Ferrell playing well, the sky is the limit for the Hoosiers.

3. Iowa (21-9, 12-6): The Hawkeyes desperately needed a win in the season finale and got it with a win at Michigan. Losers of four straight and five of the previous six, Iowa is hoping it regained a bit of the form it had earlier.

4. Purdue (24-7, 12-6): The Boilermakers closed the regular season with three straight wins. Expect Purdue to create plenty of matchup problems next week in Indy.

5. Wisconsin (20-11, 12-6): The Badgers were one of the hottest teams in the second half of the season and likely earned Greg Gard the permanent head-coaching job. Sunday’s loss to Purdue was a killer, however, dropping the Badgers into the sixth-seed in the tournament.

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6. Maryland (24-7, 12-6): It’s hard to feel good about the Terrapins at this point in the season as they lost four of their final six regular-season games. The talent is still there, but the pieces simply have not come together for this underachieving group.

7. Ohio State (19-12, 11-7): The Buckeyes won five of their final seven games but lost twice to Michigan State, missing a chance to bolster their NCAA tourney resume.

8. Northwestern (20-11, 8-10): The Wildcats closedstrong, winning three straight and getting to 20 victories for the first time since 2011. However, with an RPI of 108, it will likely take a conference tournament championship to reach their first NCAA Tournament.

9. Michigan (20-11, 10-8): The Wolverines enter the conference tournament having lost four of five and have seen their RPI drop to 67th. It’s hardly the resume of an NCAA Tournament team.

10. Penn State (16-15, 7-11): The Nittany Lions won four of their final six games and beat Illinois in the finale to avoid playing on Wednesday at the conference tournament.

11. Nebraska (14-17, 6-12): It’s been a tough year for the Cornhuskers, who’ve fallen far short of matching their 2014 NCAA Tournament berth.

12. Illinois (13-18, 5-13): Malcolm Hill scored 34 points Sunday against Penn State, but much like the entire season, it wasn’t enough for the Illini. Four of their five victories this season came against Minnesota and Rutgers, two teams that combined to go 3-33 in conference play.

13. Rutgers (7-24, 1-17): Sure, the Scarlet Knights managed a single victory this season, but they’re not last in the rankings because they smoked Minnesota.

14. Minnesota (8-22, 2-16): It’s hard to believe one of the two victories this season was over Maryland, but that’s the Big Ten for you.