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Another week of intense and unexpected play in the Big Ten. Just in the last week, #2, #4, #5, and #7 in last week's power rankings all went down and several including Michigan, Ohio State, and Minnesota were all blown out by double digits. So needless to say, there are some major changes to this week's rankings. And with even more big matchups in the coming week, it could be another up and down week of conference play. Here are the Week 16 Big Ten power rankings:
#1 - Indiana (11-2) - (No Change)
Even after another eventful week, the Hoosiers remain at the top spot for the 3rd straight week. Indiana's lead in the power rankings may have tightened, but with wins over Nebraska and Purdue at home this week, there was no reason to drop the Hoosiers. This could be the most important week so far in determining Indiana's chances at a conference title with MSU and Minnesota on the road. MSU blew out Michigan at home last week and Minnesota was able to beat a Wisconsin team that already beat Indiana at home earlier in the week. Needless to say, both are major challenges. After this week, Indiana has just one true road game remaining on its schedule: Michigan.
#2 - Michigan State (11-2) - (+1)
In last week's rankings, Michigan and MSU were placed closely together and a head-to-head matchup in the coming week would decide their spots in the rankings. MSU blew out Michigan on Tuesday and not only assumed 2nd in this week's power rankings, but also the driver's seat for the Big Ten title race. They get Indiana at home and OSU on the road in the coming week. Neither are must wins, but if the Spartans can at least go 1-1 this week, they are in great position for the Big Ten title. If they beat Indiana on Tuesday, expect them to assume the #1 spot in these rankings and perhaps the national rankings for the first time this season.
#3 - Wisconsin (9-4) - (+1)
The Badgers slide into #3 this week after losing in overtime on the road against Minnesota and blowing out Ohio State at home. This is probably a pick that will get a lot of controversy, but looking at the last two games for both teams, Wisconsin is playing a lot better than Michigan right now. Add in that Wisconsin beat Michigan just over a week ago and the argument for the Badgers at the #3 spot is even stronger. With Northwestern and Nebraska on the slate this week, look for Wisconsin to maintain the #3 spot unless Michigan has a dominant performance against Illinois.
#4 - Michigan (9-4) - (-2)
The Wolverines suffered their worst loss of the season on Tuesday on the road against MSU. They then followed this game up with a closer than expected game against Penn State. Given those performances, Michigan slides down to the #4 spot this week. Many will probably argue that Michigan deserves to be higher, but given that recent performances are weighed more heavily in these rankings, Michigan had to move down. The Wolverines only play once this week (at home against Illinois on Sunday) in what could be a very important momentum game for Michigan.
#5 - Ohio State (8-5) - (No Change)
The Buckeyes are struggling right now. They went 1-1 during the last week, but in doing so, they beat a struggling Northwestern squad and got smoked on the road against Wisconsin. Ohio State is now 1-3 over its last 4 games and perhaps more significantly, are just 2-5 this season against teams in the top half of this week's Big Ten power rankings. For a team hoping to compete for a Big Ten title, they need to do better than that. The Buckeyes get Minnesota and MSU at home this week.
#6- Illinois (6-7) - (No Change)
Last week, Illinois was bumped up 4 places to #6 after some big wins over Indiana and Minnesota. This may have been an overreaction, but the Illini backed it up with wins over Purdue and Northwestern. Illinois still has a losing record in Big Ten play, but they already have some big wins and still have Penn State, Nebraska, and Iowa on the schedule so the path to 9 conference wins is still open. This week, Illinois gets Penn State at home and Michigan on the road.
#7 - Iowa (6-7) - (+1)
Iowa hasn't been getting many headlines this season, but they have quietly been putting together a solid NCAA Tournament resume and after a big win over Minnesota at home, they are sure to start receiving some attention in the bracket projections. Iowa only has one quality opponent left on its schedule (Indiana), but with two games against Nebraska and one against Purdue left, the path to 9 conference wins is definitely still open. Iowa faces Nebraska on the road and Purdue at home this week. Iowa desperately needs to win these games to boost its tourney chances. Iowa may need the Big Ten Tournament more than any other team this season.
#8 - Minnesota (6-7) - (-1)
This has to be one of the most up and down teams in the country. Early in the week, Minnesota beat rival Wisconsin at home. They then went on the road and were blown out by Iowa despite going up by double digits early in the game. This team should still make the tournament, but they are definitely going to need more wins. The only game for the Golden Gophers this week is Ohio State on the road.
#9 - Purdue (5-8) - (No Change)
The Boilermakers remain at #9 this week simply because nobody below them did anything to move up. They got blown out on the road against Illinois then got blown out on the road against Indiana. Perhaps they can do something with Northwestern and Iowa on the schedule this week.
#10 - Northwestern (4-9) - (No Change)
The Wildcats have been dealt a rough hand this season, with many of their top contributors going down for the entire year. They've responded pretty well, but are just too shorthanded to do any significant damage. They get Wisconsin and Purdue this week.
#11 - Nebraska (3-10) - (No Change)
Nebraska got blown out by Indiana early in the week, but they did play closer against MSU over the weekend. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come in the Indiana - MSU showdown on Tuesday. Sorry for going off topic, but it seemed more interesting to put that here than writing about Nebraska's team.
#12 - Penn State (0-13) - (No Change)
Penn State is on the upswing. They played Iowa and Michigan both closely in the last week and appear poised to get their first conference win of the season. Well, maybe. They get Illinois this week.
Basketball Analyst For BTPowerhouse & Wolverine 247 - Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tbeindit
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