The quest to figure out this Indiana team continues, but the race at the top of the Big Ten has proven exciting and will surely make for a great conference tournament in a few weeks. Here's the latest edition of the Big Ten Power Rankings and where this author feels the teams stack up at the moment.
1. Michigan (20-7, 12-3) (LAST WEEK: 3): After dropping a few spots, the Wolverines are back atop your Big Ten power rankings this week. Michigan lost three of five games, beginning with the loss to Indiana Feb. 2, but this past week, they bounced back with a home win against Michigan State Sunday 79-70 along with a comeback thriller on the road against Purdue Wednesday evening where they trailed by 13 at halftime and struggled to push the game into overtime. The Wolverines didn't lead until overtime, and Glenn Robinson III hit a buzzer-beater to pull it off 77-76. At this point in the season, you've got to be able to win games you don't have any business winning.
2. Michigan State (22-6, 11-4) (LAST WEEK: 1): The Spartans fell to Michigan on the road Sunday 79-70, the team's second loss to the Wolverines this season. Michigan State looks to be, when healthy, the strongest, most veteran team in the conference, but with Brandon Dawson still out with a broken hand and Keith Appling limited with a wrist injury, it's hard to know when we'll see this team full-strength.
3. Wisconsin (23-5, 10-5) (LAST WEEK: 4): The Badgers are certainly the hottest team in the Big Ten at the moment, winning their last six games, including wins this week against Iowa on the road and against the Hoosiers at the Kohl Center. In the first half against IU, Wisconsin showed how inept they can look at times on offense, but once the team found its grove in the final 20 minutes, the Badgers threw down 50 points, outscoring IU 50-29 while the Hoosiers had little answer. This isn't your typical Bo Ryan team. Wisconsin is dangerous on offense this year.
4. Ohio State (22-6, 9-6) (LAST WEEK: 5) : The Buckeyes have now run off three-straight conference wins, although they've come against the weaker units in the Big Ten (Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota). They've got one of the strongest defenses in the conference, but I still don't feel like this is a team made for consistency. A little like the Hoosiers, you don't always know what you're going to get with the Buckeyes, and that may hurt them come postseason time.
5. Iowa (19-8, 9-6) (LAST WEEK: 2): For the first time this season, the Hawkeyes have now lost two games in-a-row. Wisconsin at home and Minnesota on the road are neither easy victories to pick up, but the team that was thought to possibly challenge Michigan for the conference title has now has to sit back and battle for a bye through the first round of the conference tournament.
6. Nebraska (16-11, 8-7) (LAST WEEK: 6): The Cornhuskers continued their streak from last week, winning two more games at home against Purdue and Penn State to get to five in a row. They lost this Wednesday on the road to Illinois, but with that streak, they've gone from near the bottom of the conference to an NCAA Tournament contender.
7. Minnesota (18-11, 7-9) (LAST WEEK: 7): The Golden Gophers have just two more conference games left in a very up and down conference season. A win against Iowa Tuesday helps their cause, but they could use another win at Michigan this weekend to boost their resume.
8. Indiana (15-12, 5-9) (LAST WEEK: 9): The Hoosiers got things turned around briefly with a road win against Northwestern over the weekend, but just when you thought they might start streaking, they let a double-digit halftime lead at Wisconsin disappear in a matter of minutes. This team has potential, but their consistency – or lack of it – and lack of an ability to sustain solid play during a full 40 minutes will be the theme looking back on this season.
9. Illinois (16-12, 5-10) (LAST WEEK: 12): The Illini went on their first conference winning streak since the first two games this week with a road win at Minnesota and home win against Nebraska. They face Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa to end the season, though, in what will likely be a rough end to a rough season.
10. Purdue (15-13, 5-10) (LAST WEEK: 8): The Boilermakers looked unstoppable against the Hoosiers, but a tough schedule this week – losses to Michigan State, a streaking Nebraska squad and Michigan – has brought them back down a notch.
11. Northwestern (12-16, 5-10) (LAST WEEK: 11): On a five-game losing streak, the Wildcats have shown some promise at times this season, but their lack of offensive firepower in the Big Ten just can't be overcome.
12. Penn State (13-14, 4-10) (LAST WEEK: 10): During the end of January during the team's three-game winning streak, it looked like the Nittany Lions may finish somewhere up close to the middle of the conference, but a last-second win against the Hoosiers has been their only victory since.