Regardless of the tight score, any win in Ann Arbor, in your most hated rival's gym, is a good win. And avenging last year's embarrassing Breslin defeat to Northwestern is a nice touch, too. The Spartans might drop that unbeaten run in Big Ten play Tuesday, but even if that's the case, Michigan State is looking to run away and hide with this regular season championship.
Next up: Tuesday at No. 16 Wisconsin
2) No. 8 Purdue (18-3, 6-3); LW, 3
Last week: won vs. then-No. 16 Wisconsin 60-57, won vs. Penn State 66-46
Lewis Jackson's return to the floor is a huge boost for the Boilers, and by furthering Wisconsin's horror show at Mackey, Purdue has a great beat on No. 2 … though Michigan State is probably out of reach.
Next up: Thursday at Indiana
3) No. 16 Wisconsin (16-5, 6-3); LW, 2
Last week: lost at then-No. 10 Purdue 60-57
Will the full five days of rest give the Badgers the juice they need to squeeze the Spartans? If not, you can bet that once again, Big Red will be looking over sorrowfully at Jon Leuer sitting on the bench in a jumpsuit. Wisconsin really misses him more than people realize, even if Keaton Nankivil has played nicely in Leuer's absence.
Next up: Tuesday vs. No. 5 Michigan State
4) No. 13 Ohio State (16-6, 6-3); LW, 4
The streaky Buckeyes have now taken 5 of 6 games, and salvaged a split with Minnesota after having lost by double-digits back in the Barn on Jan. 9. It's a friendly impending schedule too, before a one-two punch of the conference's top two teams hits Ohio State in the third week of February.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Penn State
5) Michigan (11-10, 4-5); LW, 5
Last week: lost vs. then-No. 6 Michigan State 57-56, won vs. Iowa 60-46
I feel like I said it last week – in fact, I did – but I can't kill Michigan for the week it had. Losing by one to Sparty and then pounding Iowa isn't grounds for a drop, and since the rest of the Big Ten refuses to step up and join the Big Four, I'll just have to keep putting a nearly-.500 club in the upper echelon of the rankings.
Next up: Tuesday at Northwestern
6) Illinois (14-8, 6-3); LW, 8
Last week: won at Penn State 77-67, won vs. Indiana 72-70
Wasn't necessarily pretty this week – is it ever for Bruce Weber's club? – but the Illini pick up two wins, and all of a sudden are right there in that mix for second place in the conference. After a visit to Iowa City, Illinois plays the four ranked Big Ten teams in succession – so we're about to find out who Illinois really is.
Next up: Wednesday at Iowa
7) Minnesota (13-8, 4-5); LW, 7
Last week: won vs. Northwestern 65-61, lost at then-No. 20 Ohio State 85-63
Basically a no-show effort in Columbus, and unfortunately for the poor Gophers, they have to wait a full six days until they can make up for it in State College. You'd think Tubby Smith will make this a miserable week of practice during the bye.
Next up: Saturday at Penn State
8) Northwestern (14-7, 3-6); LW, 6
Last week: lost at Minnesota 65-61, lost at then-No. 5 Michigan State 79-70
Those Cinderella hopes just keep slipping away. In a way, as much as Northwestern has taken setbacks this season, it's fairly incredible that the Wildcats have still lost just seven games. But not too many teams lose 60 percent of their conference games and make the big tournament.
Next up: Tuesday vs. Michigan
9) Iowa (8-14, 2-7); LW, 9
Last week: lost vs. then-No. 20 Ohio State 65-57, lost at Michigan 60-46
Hey, the winning streak was fun while it lasted, right? What's also fun is any Iowa-Illinois game; it's a bit of a border war, so we'll see if the students at Carver-Hawkeye are in full throat for the mid-week matchup.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Illinois
10) Indiana (9-11, 3-5); LW, 10
Last week: lost at Illinois 72-70
Of course, the Illinois-Indiana rivalry is also a crowd-pleaser as well (remember the days of Eric Gordon's defection?) and that didn't disappoint. Well, the result did, if you're a Hoosier.
Next up: Thursday vs. No. 8 Purdue
11) Penn State (8-13, 0-9); LW, 11
Last week: lost vs. Illinois 77-67, lost at then-No. 10 Purdue 66-46
When the Nittany Lions woke up Sunday morning, one hopes they didn't look at the schedule, which included 10 remaining games – two against Purdue, two against Michigan State and two against Ohio State. Yikes.
Next up: Wednesday at No. 13 Ohio State