There is beginning to be some separation at the top of the Big Ten as four teams have one loss headed into this week. But those four teams will face each other in two of the games this week, too. So who do you think should be the No. 1 team this week in our rankings?
Here is our fourth edition of the Big Ten Power Rankings for the 2014-15 season:
14. Penn State (12-6, 0-5, KENPOM: 123rd):The Nittany Lions had a pair of close games last week but still remain winless in the conference. Penn State lost on the road at Indiana and then let one slip away down the stretch at home against Purdue, losing in overtime to the Boilermakers. After facing Michigan State on the road early this week, the Lions could be in line for their first Big Ten win when they play host to Rutgers on the weekend. Still, it’s a disappointing start to conference play for a team that went 12-1 in the non-conference portion of the schedule. (LAST WEEK: 14)
13. Northwestern (10-8, 1-4, KENPOM: 136th):The Wildcats lost to two teams they needed to beat last week in Illinois and Michigan. This week the games are much tougher with Ohio State at home and at Maryland. It’s certainly not the recipe on paper that Northwestern needs to begin looking respectable again. (LAST WEEK: 13)
12. Rutgers (10-9, 2-4, KENPOM: 142nd):So how long can you live off that win over Wisconsin? Apparently not too long. After a brief stop at No. 10, Rutgers is back in the No. 12 hole after losing to Maryland and Minnesota last week. The Minnesota loss, even though it was on the road, gave the Golden Gophers their first conference win of the season. At No. 142, Rutgers is the lowest rated Big Ten team on KenPom. (LAST WEEK: 10).
11. Minnesota (12-7, 1-5, KENPOM: 49th):The Gophers finally picked up a Big Ten win as they beat Rutgers at home and the schedule moving forward is actually pretty favorable for Minnesota. The question is did the Gophers dig too big of a hole early with the 0-5 B1G start or can they bounce back. My take: Minnesota will ultimately finish below .500. (LAST WEEK: 12)
10. Illinois (12-7, 2-4, KENPOM: 68th):The Illini had a chance to get back to even in Big Ten play but couldn’t hold on to a nine-point second half lead at home against Indiana on Sunday and slipped to 2-5. But three of the next four games are at home (Purdue, Penn State and Rutgers) and the other game is at Minnesota. Don’t be surprised if the Illini, even without Ravonte Rice, are hovering around .500 in the next few weeks. (LAST WEEK: 11)
9. Michigan (11-7, 4-2, KENPOM: 100th): The Wolverines were already struggling and now they have lost their leading scorer, Caris LeVert, for the season with a broken foot. Not only was LeVert leading Michigan in scoring but also in rebounds and assists, too. Michigan will have a chance for a split this week with Rutgers followed by Wisconsin but can the Wolverines beat Rutgers on the road without their best player? It will be close. (LAST WEEK: 8)
8. Nebraska (10-7, 2-3, KENPOM: 95th):The Cornhuskers dropped their only game of the week but it was against Wisconsin. This week Nebraska will have a chance to show if it can right the ship as it has home games against Minnesota and Michigan State. Wins against those two foes at home could jump start a Cornhusker team which has been disappointing to this point in the season. (LAST WEEK: 9)
7. Purdue (11-7, 3-2, KENPOM: 73rd) The Boilers picked up a conference road win at Penn State, rallying at the end of regulation and then winning in overtime. This week Purdue has a couple of key games that will tell us if the Boilers are contenders or pretenders. Purdue is at Illinois, which is 8-1 at home this season and then plays host to Iowa, a team that just cracked the top 25 this week. This is a big week for the Boilers though as next week it will play host to IU. (LAST WEEK: 7)
6. Ohio State (14-5, 3-3, KENPOM: 22nd):The Buckeyes may be even in the conference standings but they’re still one of the top three Big Ten teams in the KenPom rankings and have a chance this week to get a couple of games over .500. Ohio State will travel to face a Northwestern team desperate for a victory and then will play host to Indiana on Sunday. The Hoosiers beat the Buckeyes in Bloomington 10 days ago. (LAST WEEK: 6)
5. Iowa (13-5, 4-1, KENPOM: 37th): Iowa is playing some of the best ball in the Big Ten through the first five games and is coming off a week in which it beat Minnesota and Ohio State. Iowa and Indiana could be an interesting matchup but unfortunately they only play once and it’s not until March. This is a huge week for the Hawkeyes as they go on the road for a pair – at Wisconsin and at Purdue. If they could get even a split that would be big for Iowa.(LAST WEEK: 5)
4. Indiana (14-4, 4-1, KENPOM: 52nd): Indiana is tied with three other Big Ten teams in the loss column with just one setback but faces a challenging week after cracking the top 25 for the first time this season. IU plays host to Maryland on Thursday and Terrapins have been one of the hottest teams in the conference. One thing IU has going for it is that the Hoosiers are 14-3 in the last 17 games at Assembly Hall against teams ranked in the top 25. After Maryland, IU heads to Ohio State on Sunday. This is a week where the Hoosiers need to find a way to get at least a split. Do that and IU could really begin to get some momentum. (LAST WEEK: 4)
3. Michigan State (12-6, 3-2, KENPOM: 23rd): The Spartans are probably happy that they are done with Maryland for the regular season. Both of Michigan State’s conference losses this season are to the Terrapins. This could be a big week to stay in the top three in the power rankings as Michigan State plays host to Penn State and travels to Nebraska. The Nebraska game will be big because it will also be an extremely important game for the Cornhuskers. (LAST WEEK: 3)
2. Maryland (17-2, 5-1, KENPOM: 14th): The Terrapins are alone atop the Big Ten standings at 5-1 after beating Rutgers and Michigan State last week. Thursday Maryland travels to face Indiana at Assembly Hall. The Terrapins are one of three Big Ten teams (Iowa and IU are the others) that already have two conference road wins. If the Terps can get past IU, they will face Northwestern at home over the weekend with a chance to begin to run away and hide. (LAST WEEK: 2)
1. Wisconsin (16-2, 4-1, KENPOM: 6th): The Badgers, even though they’re a half game behind Maryland in the standings, still look at the Big Ten’s best. That look will be put to the test this week when Wisconsin plays host to Iowa and travels to a desperate Michigan team this weekend. Depending on what happens here, there could be a shakeup in the power rankings next week. (LAST WEEK: 1).