Big Ten College Basketball Power Rankings: Nebraska and Iowa up, MSU and Indiana down

Vaughn Dalzell shares his Big Ten Power Rankings as we enter the final four games of the regular season.

1. Purdue Boilermakers (25-3, 14-3)

Upcoming games: Saturday vs Michigan State (-10), Tuesday at Illinois (-1)
*Projected lines*

Purdue bounced back with 28 and 8-point wins over Rutgers and Michigan following its road loss at Ohio State. The Boilermakers are heavy favorites in their final two home games against Michigan State (-10) and Wisconsin (-10), but projected a a short favorite at Illinois (-1).

There’s an outside chance for the Illini to catch the Boilermakers for the Big Ten regular season best record, but watch out for Illinois to win the Big Ten tournament. That’s where I would put my money.

2. Illinois Fighting Illini (20-7, 11-5)

Upcoming games: Wednesday vs Minnesota (-9), Saturday at Wisconsin (+1)
*Projected lines*

Illinois hosts Minnesota and Purdue with road contests at Wisconsin and Iowa to close out the season. The road to end February and to start March won’t be an easy one for Illinois, but with the ability to score 80-plus points like they’ve done in the past six games, the Illini are a threat to anyone they play.

3. Nebraska Cornhuskers (20-8, 10-7)

Upcoming games: Thursday at Ohio State (+1), Sunday vs Rutgers (-9)
*Projected lines*

The Cornhuskers have won four straight games against Michigan, Penn State, Indiana, and Minnesota — four teams ranked 7th or worse in the Big Ten standings.

While we cannot hold that against Nebraska, they finish the season at Ohio State, hosting Rutgers, then at Michigan, a very winnable stretch. Nebraska is getting hot at the right time and has arguably the easiest remaining schedule in the Big Ten.

4. Northwestern Wildcats (19-8, 10-6)

Upcoming games: Wednesday at Maryland (+3), Saturday vs Iowa (-4)
*Projected lines*

The Wildcats have won four of the past five games after suffering OT losses in back-to-back games. Northwestern is ranked No. 6 in the country for offensive turnover percentage (13.4%) and 5th in three-point offense (39.5%), but hasn’t gained any resume-popping wins since beating Purdue.

5. Michigan State Spartans (17-11, 9-8)

Upcoming games: Saturday at Purdue (+10), Wednesday vs Northwestern (-6)
*Projected lines*

The Spartans dropped two straight games for the third time this season, this time coming versus Iowa and Ohio State. Michigan State has Purdue on deck, so the Spartans will be trending in the wrong direction at the wrong time of year.

6. Wisconsin Badgers (18-9, 10-6)

Upcoming games: Tuesday at Indiana (-5), Saturday vs Illinois (-1)
*Projected lines*

Wisconsin won two of the past three after dropping four straight games to follow up the longest losing streak of the season. The Badgers go to Indiana and Purdue, while host llinois and Rutgers to end the season.

Wisconsin can’t afford anymore bad losses, but the Badgers have a chance to build on its semi-impressive resume with wins over Purdue and Illinois.

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-10, 8-8)

Upcoming games: Wednesday at Illinois (+9), Saturday vs Penn State (-5)
*Projected lines*

Minnesota’s road losing streak extended to three games with a loss to Nebraska on Sunday. However, the Gophers are ranked top 75 in both offenisve and defenisve efficinecy and 15-3 at home this season.

Minnesota’s last four games could go either way, but they are on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament with no impressive wins.

8. Iowa Hawkeyes (16-12, 8-9)

Upcoming games: Tuesday vs Penn State (-7), Saturday at Northwestern (+4)
*Projected lines*

Iowa’s offense has been on full display with 85, 78, and 88 points in the past three games. The Hawkeyes are ranked 11th in offensive efficiency, but 162nd in defensive efficiency.

Iowa is playing themselves into the NCAA Tournament conversation, but have a tough road ahead versus Penn State, Northwestern, and Illinois. Not only that, they are a team that must win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament even if they sweep or go 2-1 in that stretch.

9. Ohio State Buckeyes (16-12, 6-11)

Upcoming games: Thursday vs Nebraska (-1), Sunday vs Michigan (-8)
*Projected lines*

Ohio State is trending in the right direction as winners in two of the last three games and three of the previous five. With a buzzer-beater at Michigan State, the Buckeyes could go 3-0 with home games versus Nebraska and Michigan, plus a road contest at Rutgers.

10. Maryland Terrapins (15-13, 7-10)

Upcoming games: Wednesday vs Northwestern (-3), Sunday vs Indiana (-9)
*Projected lines*

Maryland got a much-needed win at Rutgers and has two home games up next versus Northwestern and Indiana. After that, the Terps are at Penn State, so they could win all three games and put themselves on the bubble pending their Big Ten tournament performance.

11. Penn State Nittany Lions (14-14, 8-9)

Upcoming games: Tuesday at Iowa (+7), Saturday at Minnesota (+5)
*Projected lines*

The Nittany Lions stunned Illinois and followed that up with a nine-point win versus Indiana. With back-to-back road games at Iowa and Minnesota, the winning streak is likely to end, but the offense is coming alive at the right time for Penn State. The Nittany Lions scored 72, 83, and 90 points in three of the past four games.

12. Rutgers Scarlett Knights (14-13, 6-10)

Upcoming games: Thursday vs Michigan (-4), Sunday at Nebraska (+9)
*Projected lines*

Rutgers lost three straight games at Minnesota and Purdue, then at home versus Maryland. The Scarlet Knights won four straight previously, so their tournament odds are out of the window. The final four games looks like a 2-2 or 1-3 stretch for Rutgers, so they’ll likely be a first-round exit in the Big Ten tournament.

13. Indiana Hoosiers (14-13, 6-10)

Upcoming games: Tuesday vs Wisconsin (+5), Sunday at Maryland (+9)
*Projected lines*

Indiana has lost four straight games and five of the past six, putting Mike Woodson on the hot seat. The Hoosiers are underdogs in the final four games and likely to finish below .500.

It’s hard to win with one of the worst three-point (290th) and free-throw shooting teams (345th) in the country, plus the Hoosiers do not turn force turnovers (315th).

14. Michigan Wolverines (8-20, 3-14)

Upcoming games: Thursday at Rutgers (+4), Sunday at Ohio State (+8)
*Projected lines*

Michigan has lost five consecutive games and 10 of the last 11. The Wolverines have two road games at Rutgers and Ohio State before ending the season at home versus Nebraska. Michigan has lost eight straight road or neutral court games, so a first round exit in the Big Ten tournament is likely.

Power Rankings listed out

  1. Purdue

  2. Illinois

  3. Nebraska

  4. Northwestern

  5. Michigan State

  6. Wisconsin

  7. Minnesota

  8. Iowa

  9. Ohio State

  10. Maryland

  11. Penn State

  12. Rutgers

  13. Indiana

  14. Michigan

Moving On Up: Illinois (3), Nebraska (5), Wisconsin (8), Iowa (10), Maryland (12), Penn State (13)

Going Down: Michigan State (2), Minnesota (6), Rutgers (7), Indiana (11)

No Movement: Purdue (1), Northwestern (4), Ohio State (9), Michigan (14)

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