B1G Power Rankings: Buckeyes on the move

Wisconsin remained firmly entrenched in the top spot of the Big Ten rankings this week but D'Angelo Russell and Ohio State are making a charge. The Ohio State-Maryland game this week could have a big impact on next week's rankings, too.

Ohio State made the biggest jump this week and Iowa the biggest slip. But there are a lot of interesting games in the conference this week that could have a major impact on next week's power rankings. Games like Indiana-Purdue, Ohio State-Maryland, and Michigan-Michigan State are three that jump out. There have been a lot of hotly contested games in the Big Ten already and we're only a third of the way into the conference season. Wisconsin remains the clear cut B1G leader but who do you think should be No. 2?

Here is our fifth edition of the Big Ten Power Rankings for the 2014-15 season:

14. Rutgers (10-11, 2-6, KENPOM: 170th):Rutgers slips to the bottom of the power rankings after dropping games to Michigan and Penn State last week. In the case of the Nittany Lions, it was Penn State's first conference victory and PSU really put it on the Scarlet Knights, running to a 79-51 victory. Rutgers is currently the only team in the Big Ten with a losing record overall and it is 47 spots lower on the KenPom rankings than any other Big Ten team. Rutgers' Tuesday night home game this week against Michigan State has already been postponed for weather and Saturday the Scarlet Knights travel to Bloomington to face Indiana so chances are it will be difficult to move out of the bottom spot. (LAST WEEK: 12).

13. Penn State (13-7, 1-6, KENPOM: 101st):The Nittany Lions finally picked up a Big Ten victory after opening the conference losing their first six games. That was enough to lift the Lions out of the cellar in the power rankings. The fact that Penn State took its frustrations out on the new cellar dwellar, Rutgers, in a convincing 28-point victory just put the exclamation point on that upward movement. This week Penn State has two games it should be competitive in: Minnesota at home and at Illinois. If the Nittany Lions hope to reverse their current trend this would be a week where it would need to make a move.(LAST WEEK: 14)

12. Northwestern (10-10, 1-6, KENPOM: 123rd):The Wildcats moved up a spot in the ranking this week despite losing both of their games. That's simply because even though Northwestern is 1-6 in the Big Ten, the Wildcats don't really look that part. This could be a dangerous team. Here's an example: Northwestern scored 67 points against both Ohio State and Maryland last week and lost the two games by a combined three points. The Maryland game on Sunday was won on a tip in by the Terrapins in the final 2 seconds. The Wildcats only have one game this week, a home game against Purdue. Even at 1-6, that's a game that Northwestern could win.


11. Illinois (13-8, 3-5, KENPOM: 68th):The Illini continue to slip in the power rankings and fell one spot despite splitting two games last week. The loss to Minnesota did the trick as the Golden Gophers moved one spot ahead of the Illini after beating Illinois. The final point that allowed Minnesota to move ahead of the Illini was that Illinois is 16 spots back in the KenPom rankings. Illinois only has one game this week, though, and that's home against Penn State. That's a must win for the Illini if they entertain any hopes of getting back to .500 in Big Ten play anytime soon. (LAST WEEK: 10)

10. Minnesota (13-8, 2-6, KENPOM: 52nd):The Gophers missed a golden opportunity to get closer to .500 themselves but dropped a 52-49 decision to Nebraska. They ended the week with an eight-point win over Illinois. Minnesota can't afford many more losses or it will be on the wrong end of the .500 mark when the conference season comes to a close. This is a big week for the Gophers as they play at Penn State and then host Nebraska. Minnesota cannot afford a split. (LAST WEEK: 11)

9. Michigan (13-8, 5-3, KENPOM: 93rd):How long can the Wolverines continue to stay in the upper half of the Big Ten standings despite having lost Caris LeVert for the season? Michigan had another split last week, beating Rutgers and then taking Wisconsin to overtime before dropping a 69-64 decision. This is a big week if the Wolverines hope to stay in the race. Michigan plays host to Nebraska and then travels to the Breslin Center on Sunday to face rival Michigan State. Both of those teams will be viewing that game as a must-win, too, so the energy should be high. (LAST WEEK: 9)

8. Nebraska (12-7, 4-3, KENPOM: 88th):The Cornhuskers swept a pair of games last week including a nail-biting 79-77 home victory over Michigan State. Nebraska had a big lead in that one and had to hang on. In order for the Cornhuskers to make a move in the power rankings, however, they need to pick up a conference road win or two. Nebraska is 0-2 on the road in Big Ten play and face Michigan and Minnesota away from home this week. Pick up at least a split of those games and the Huskers should be able to build a case toward moving up in the rankings next week. (LAST WEEK: 8)

7. Iowa (13-7, 4-3, KENPOM: 47th):The Hawkeyes had a rough week. After cracking the top 25 in one poll, Iowa went out that night and got pummeled by Wisconsin, 82-50. Then on Saturday, it lost to Purdue. That losing streak could go to three this week as the Hawks' only game is at home against Wisconsin. Aaron White hurt his shoulder against Purdue and is questionable. A loss would take Iowa from 4-1 in the Big Ten a week ago to a 4-4 record. (LAST WEEK: 5)

6. Purdue (12-8, 4-3, KENPOM: 75th)Purdue picked up a split last week, including having to rally to beat a depleted Iowa squad Saturday at home in a game that the Boilers looked to have in control. Purdue could use a signature win and it could pick it up on Wednesday when it plays host to Indiana. If it can pull that off then it will have a chance to pick up two wins this week as it travels to face Northwestern on Saturday. (LAST WEEK: 7)

5. Indiana (15-5, 5-2, KENPOM: 42nd):The Hoosiers suffered a minor setback with the loss Sunday at Ohio State which snapped IU's four-game winning streak. A convincing 19-point win at home, however, against one of the hottest Big Ten teams, Maryland, earlier in the week, allowed IU to move up in AP and USA Today Coaches poll. In our poll, IU slips a spot, though, as Ohio State has moved past the Hoosiers and into the top three. This is a big week for Indiana. The Hoosiers face a "vertical" challenge Wednesday night in West Lafayette and then return home Saturday in a game they have to win against Rutgers. (LAST WEEK: 4)

4. Michigan State (13-7, 4-3, KENPOM: 27th):The Spartans are coming off a week that was a mixed bag. Michigan State defeated a Penn State team they were expected to beat and then had a rally come up short at Nebraska. This week, Michigan State has already lost an opportunity to improve on its conference record as tonight's game against Rutgers has been postponed due to weather concerns on the East Coast. That likely means that Michigan State's only game this week will be hosting Michigan on Sunday and that is always a high energy affair. (LAST WEEK: 3)

3. Ohio State (16-5, 5-3, KENPOM: 20th):The Buckeyes move up this week on the heels of a pair of victories at Northwestern and home against Indiana. Ohio State has moved to the second spot in the Big Ten in the KenPom Rankings. The question for the Buckeyes will be whether or not they can stay there? Ohio State only has one game this week -- and it's at home -- but the Buckeyes play host to a good Maryland team on Thursday night. If it wins that one, Ohio State could make a case to move up to No. 2 in next week's power rankings. (LAST WEEK: 6)

2. Maryland (18-3, 6-2, KENPOM: 30th): The Terrapins showed some vulnerability last week, losing by 19 on the road at Indiana and then needing a late tip-in against Northwestern to come away with a 68-67 victory on Sunday at home. Maryland stays in the No. 2 spot in our rankings for this week but that could change next week based on the results of the Terps only game this week: at Ohio State on Thursday. Maryland is 2-2 on the road in the Big Ten with wins against Michigan State and Purdue, but losses to IU and Illinois. (LAST WEEK: 2)

1. Wisconsin (18-2, 6-1, KENPOM: 6th):Wisconsin flexed its muscles last week and blasted Iowa, 82-50, early in the week and then needed overtime to beat Michigan on Saturday night. Still, Wisconsin remains the elite team in the conference and will look to widen its gap on the pack even more when it travels to Iowa for its only game this week. The Badgers are 2-1 in conference road games this season but will be just 10 days removed from the beat down it gave to the Hawkeyes at the Kohl Center. (LAST WEEK: 1).

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