The Big Ten regular season came to an end on Sunday with Wisconsin retaining the top spot and conference newcomer Maryland grabbing a distant second. There wasn’t a lot of movement in the final power rankings as Indiana took the biggest drop of three places and Iowa had the biggest climb of three. The Big Ten Tournament began tonight, though those results are not reflected in these rankings.
|1. Wisconsin (28-3, 16-2) – Even|
|Last Week: Beat Minn 76-63, Beat #23 Ohio State 72-48||This Week: Fri. (B1G Tournament) vs Mich/Illinois|
The undisputed flagship team in the Big Ten finished the regular season with a flourish Sunday, pounding Ohio State by 24 points in Columbus. Wisconsin enters the conference tournament with a No. 1 seed on its mind.
|2. Maryland (26-5, 14-4) – Up 2|
|Last Week: Beat Rutgers 60-50, Beat Nebraska 64-61||This Week: Fri. (B1G Tournament) vs NU/Indiana|
Mark Turgeon couldn’t have hoped for a better inaugural season in the Big Ten, as his team cruised to a second-place finish and enters the postseason on a seven-game winning streak. Maryland already took down Wisconsin once, and doing so again would earn the Terps a Big Ten championship.
|3. Iowa (21-10, 12-6) – Up 3
|Last Week: Beat Indiana 77-63, Beat Northwestern 69-52||This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Penn State|
On Feb. 15 the Hawkeyes had lost five of their last seven games and stared down the barrel of another late-season collapse. Instead, Iowa blazed through its final six games and picked up the No. 5 seed in Chicago.
|4. Michigan State (21-10, 12-6) – Down 1
|Last Week: Beat Purdue 72-66, Beat Indiana 74-72||This Week: Fri. (B1G Tournament) vs Minn/Ohio State|
Tom Izzo and the Spartans were shaky through 31 games this season, but closed with wins over two lesser opponents to snatch the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
|5. Purdue (20-11, 12-6) – Down 3
|Last Week: Lost at MSU 66-72, Beat Illinois 63-58||This Week: Fri. (B1G Tournament) vs Iowa/Penn State|
Purdue is kicking itself heading into the conference tournament after it dropped two road games in the first week of March that would have solidified its NCAA resume. Instead, the first-round bye may actually hurt the Boilermakers, who will likely miss out with a one-and-done showing in Chicago.
|6. Illinois (19-12, 9-9) – Up 2|
|Last Week: Beat Nebraska 69-57, Lost at Purdue 58-63||This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Michigan|
Illinois came within five points of finishing the season on a three-game streak that may have been enough to put them on the right side of the bubble. Instead, an 8-6 record down the stretch with five of those losses by eight points or less may not be enough for John Groce’s team.
|7. Ohio State (22-9, 11-7) – Even|
|Last Week: Beat Penn State 77-67, Lost vs #6 Wisc 48-72
||This Week: Thu (B1G Tournament) vs Minnesota|
A 24-point loss to Wisconsin on Senior Day put an exclamation point on Ohio State’s tremendously disappointing season. The Buckeyes finished with only one win over a team ranked in the final AP poll: a home victory against Maryland. Ohio State was uncompetitive against each of Louisville, North Carolina and Wisconsin and will struggle to make a tournament run, barring a complete D’Angelo Russell takeover.
|8. Indiana (19-12, 9-9) – Down 3|
|Last Week: Lost to Iowa 63-77, Lost to MSU 72-74||This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Northwestern|
The last six weeks of the season were awfully unkind to Tom Crean and the Hoosiers. After finally cracking the Top 25 with a 15-4 record, Indiana dropped eight of its last 12 games, putting its tournament status and coaching future in question. Indiana probably needed to win three of its last five games, but instead beat only Rutgers, the Big Ten’s junior varsity team, and lost three home games and a trip to Northwestern.
|9. Northwestern (15-16, 6-12) – Up 1|
|Last Week: Beat Michigan 82-70 2OT, Lost to Iowa 52-69||This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Indiana|
Despite finishing the season with a losing record, Northwestern is trending sharply upwards, having won five of its final seven conference games. The Wildcats looked destined for a last-place finish after a 10-game losing streak, but flipped the switch in mid-February. Tom Crean’s collar is feeling a little tight heading into this Big Ten Tournament matchup.
|10. Michigan (15-15, 8-10) – Down 1
|Last Week: Lost at NU 78-82 2OT, Beat Rutgers 79-69||This Week: Thu. (B1G Tournament) vs Illinois|
As strange as it may sound, Michigan is one of the better teams in the Big Ten… in the first 40 minutes of games. The Wolverines lost four overtime games, and had they finished those wins, they’d be sitting in the No. 4 seed with a double bye in the tournament.
|11. Minnesota (17-14, 6-12) – Even
|Last Week: Lost to #6 Wisc 63-76, Lost to Penn State 76-79||This Week: Wed. (B1G Tournament) vs Rutgers|
Minnesota just couldn’t get rolling during conference play this season, mustering just one winning streak (three games) but following it with losses in five of its last six games.
|12. Penn State (16-15, 4-14) – Up 1
|Last Week: Lost to #23 OSU 67-77, Beat Minnesota 79-76||This Week: Wed. (B1G Tournament) vs Nebraska|
A road win to finish the season snapped a six-game winning streak for Penn State, but it’ll still be one of four teams playing in the first round of the conference tournament Wednesday.
|13. Nebraska (13-17, 5-13) – Down 1|
|Last Week: Lost at Illinois 57-69, Lost to #10 Maryland 61-64||This Week: Wed. (B1G Tournament) vs Penn State|
Die-hard believers in what Nebraska accomplished last season considered Tim Miles’ team a legitimate contender heading into the 2014-15 campaign. Instead, Nebraska was the league’s greatest disappointment, finishing in 12th place and losing eight straight down the stretch.
|14. Rutgers (10-21, 2-16) – Even|
|Last Week: Lost to #10 Maryland 50-60, Lost at Michigan 69-79||This Week: Wed. (B1G Tournament) vs Minnesota|
Rutgers’ first year in the Big Ten was an absolute bloodbath. The Scarlett Knights will play Wednesday, on the two-month anniversary of their last win, carrying a 14-game losing streak on their shoulders.