Big Ten Power Rankings: Logjam in the middle

Wisconsin is No. 1. That's easy. But after that? Not so much.

Wisconsin belongs at the top. That much I'm certain of. But after that, there's a bit of a logjam in the standings. Making sense of the middle of the Big Ten is a bit of a challenge. But my job isn't to complain, it's to attempt to make sense of the conference. So, without further ado, our sixth addition of Big Ten Power Rankings this season.

14. Northwestern (10-11, 1-7, KENPOM: 124th, RPI: 139th): The Wildcats should have beaten both Ohio State and Maryland, but they failed to close both of those games, and still have only one win in conference play. Northwestern has lost seven straight games, including a 68-60 home game against Purdue on Saturday. (LAST WEEK: 12)

13. Rutgers: (10-13, 2-8, KENPOM: 172nd, RPI: 111th): The Scarlet Knights gave Indiana everything it could handle at Assembly Hall, but came up short. Myles Mack is one of the more under-rated players in the conference. Undersized, but a baller. (LAST WEEK: 14)

12. Minnesota (14-9, 3-7, KENPOM: 49th, RPI: 98th): The Gophers beat Nebraska by 18 points at home, but lost at Penn State. I'm still not a believer in this Minnesota team. When Richard Pitino earns a signature win, maybe I will be. (LAST WEEK: 10)

11. PENN STATE (14-8, 2-7, KENPOM: 97th, RPI: 95th): Pat Chambers' club earned back-to-back home wins over Rutgers and Minnesota to get into the W column in conference play. The Nittany Lions had a chance late in Champaign, but dropped a two-point decision to Illinois. Either way, they seem to be playing much better of late. (LAST WEEK: 13)

10. NEBRASKA (12-9, 4-5, KENPOM: 113th, RPI: 104th): The disappointing season continues for Tim Miles and the Cornhuskers. They were blown out by two mediocre teams on the road last week, losing by 14 at Michigan and by 18 at Minnesota. Nebraska scored only 86 total points in those two losses, and star player Terran Petteway didn't do much at all. His body language said it all. (LAST WEEK: 8)

9. ILLINOIS (14-8, 4-5, KENPOM: 74th, RPI: 60th): The Illini aren't out of the NCAA Tournament yet, but they need a good stretch, and soon. John Groce's club has yet to win back to-back games in conference play, but they have a good opportunity to get that done against Rutgers at home on Tuesday night. (LAST WEEK: 11)

8. Iowa (13-8, 4-4, KENPOM: 47th, RPI: 52nd): Typical Iowa season, no? The Hawkeyes played well early, but they've dropped three in a row, including two against Wisconsin. Can Iowa play enough defense to go dancing this season? We shall see. (LAST WEEK: 7)

7. MICHIGAN (13-9, 6-4, KENPOM: 79th, RPI: 55th): The Wolverines are without Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, and yet they've continued to be competitive. I've been very impressed by Michigan's effort, especially at Michigan State on Sunday. The Wolverines forced OT in East Lansing, despite playing walk-on Andrew Dakich for long stretches. Can the Wolverines keep it up without much of a bench? (LAST WEEK: 9)

6. INDIANA (16-6, 6-3, KENPOM: 50th, RPI: 38th): The Hoosiers haven't played well in any of their last three games, and they face the daunting task of traveling to Madison to play Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Indiana will have to play much better than it did Saturday against Rutgers if it wants to stay in the game against the Big Ten's best team. (LAST WEEK: 5)

5. PURDUE (14-8, 6-3, KENPOM: 57th, RPI: 90th): Purdue still needs to do a lot to make the NCAA Tournament because of its poor non-conference season, but there's no doubt the Boilermakers belong in the top five of the power rankings because of how they are playing right now. Purdue has won three straight games, and it has a chance to push the streak to four with a home game against Ohio State looming on Wednesday. (LAST WEEK: 6)

4. MICHIGAN STATE (15-7, 6-3, KENPOM: 25th, RPI: 41st): The Spartans are a hard team to figure out. There's no reason they shouldn't have blown out Michigan at home on Sunday, and they needed overtime to get it done. That's concerning. (LAST WEEK: 4)

3. MARYLAND (18-4, 6-3, KENPOM: 32nd, RPI: 13th): The Terrapins were blown out by 24 points at Ohio State last week. Are they finally coming back down to Earth after a hot start? (LAST WEEK: 2)

2. OHIO STATE (17-5, 6-3, KENPOM: 18th, RPI: 37th): D'Angelo Russell is a legitimate candidate for National Player of the Year, and the Buckeyes are as hot as any team in the country. This week should teach us a lot about Russell and Ohio State when they go on the road to play both Purdue and Rutgers. I think I can safely say this: Nobody will want to play Ohio State in March. (LAST WEEK: 3)

1. WISCONSIN (19-2, 7-1, KENPOM: 5th, RPI: 9th): There's no denying the Badgers are still the best team in the conference. They have two home games against Indiana and Northwestern this week. (LAST WEEK: 1) Top Stories