Big Ten Power Poll: Week Seven

With just four weeks remaining in the Big Ten regular season, six teams are above .500 in the conference standings, with Michigan State holding a one-game advantage. Three teams are knotted for second place in Ohio State, Illinois and Wisconsin and Purdue is one half game behind them. Four of those teams play tonight, which means the power poll will be shaken to its core.

1) No. 11 Wisconsin (18-5, 8-3 Big Ten); Last week's rank, 3

Last week: won vs. then-No. 5 Michigan State 67-49, won at Michigan 62-44

Enjoy the penthouse, Badgers. The team that was picked by some magazines to miss the NCAA tournament and finish ninth – ninth!!! – in the Big Ten now is the proud owner of arguably the most impressive resume in the country.

Next up: Tuesday vs. Illinois

2) No. 6 Purdue (19-3, 7-3); LW, 2

Last week: won at Indiana 78-75

The Boilermakers had a slow week, just getting in one game and barely beating Indiana. But a date with the Spartans in East Lansing would get those style points back.

Next up: Tuesday at No. 10 Michigan State

3) No. 10 Michigan State (19-5, 9-2); LW, 1

Last week: lost at then-No. 16 Wisconsin 67-49, lost at Illinois 78-73

Can you really, really smear Michigan State for losing on the road in two raucous environments? No, not completely. But playing on the road sure didn't affect Kansas or Villanova last night, and other teams like Syracuse and, I don't know, Wisconsin have thrived in hostile environments as well. Tonight's a statement game, Spartans.

Next up: Tuesday vs. No. 6 Purdue

4) No. 13 Ohio State (18-6, 8-3); LW, 4

Last week: won vs. Penn State 75-62, won vs. Iowa 68-58

A ho-hum week as the Buckeyes enjoy a cupcake stretch of the schedule. Good for wins, morale and confidence, but not so good for national recognition as Ohio State might be getting a little lost in the mix amidst all these great games.

Next up: Wednesday at Indiana

5) RV Illinois (16-8, 8-3); LW, 6

Last week: won at Iowa 57-49, won vs. then-No. 5 Michigan State 78-73

Anyone else think it was a little embarrassing that the Orange Krush – which watched its team make the national championship game just five years ago – rushed the court after beating a No. 5 team that was playing without Kalin Lucas? Don't remember what the line was for that game, but maybe there should be an unwritten rule in college football/basketball: if your team is less than a touchdown/7-point underdog, no rushing the playing surface. Period.

Next up: Tuesday at No. 11 Wisconsin

6) Northwestern (16-7, 5-6); LW, 8

Last week: won vs. Michigan 67-52, won vs. Indiana 78-61

Those tournament hopes flicker. Once again. Not a bad way to do it either, by emphatically throttling two Big Ten teams who you wouldn't consider terrible.

Next up: Wednesday at Iowa

7) Minnesota (14-8, 5-5); LW, 7

Last week: won at Penn State 66-64

Lawrence Westbrook doesn't get nearly enough pub – it hurts when your team is average and runs something like a 36-man rotation – but that was one hell of a step-back move and game-winning, walk-off triple he hit to stun Penn State. What athleticism, and clutchness.

Next up: Thursday vs. Michigan

8) Michigan (11-12, 4-7); LW, 5

Last week: lost at Northwestern 67-52, lost vs. then-No. 16 Wisconsin 62-44

What I said about Northwestern … you know, except the exact opposite.

Next up: Thursday at Minnesota

9) Iowa (8-16, 2-9); LW, 9

Last week: lost vs. Illinois 57-49, lost at then-No. 13 Ohio State 68-58

They couldn't beat their last Border state rival a few days ago, but the Hawkeyes get a crack at the other one at Carver-Hawkeye Arena tomorrow as they creep closer to a semi-respectable 10-win season.

Next up: Wednesday vs. Northwestern

10) Indiana (9-13, 3-7); LW, 10

Last week: lost vs. then-No. 8 Purdue 78-75, lost at Northwestern 78-61

No shame in making a heck of a game against your bitter in-state rival and coming up short. Just don't tell Bloomington folks that; moral victories aren't in their vocabulary.

Next up: Wednesday vs. No. 13 Ohio State

11) Penn State (8-15, 0-11); LW, 11

Last week: lost at then-No. 13 Ohio State 75-62, lost vs. Minnesota 66-64

The Nittany Lions have been putrid in Big Ten play, but the most unbiased of sports fans has to feel bad that Westbrook had to prolong Penn State's gloom with a ridiculous shot. PSU's chances of getting off the conference schneid are dimming.

Next up: Saturday vs. No. 10 Michigan State

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