As the Big Ten regular season wrapped up on Sunday Michigan was able to sit back and relax having wrapped up the outright conference title by three games and the number one seed in this week’s tournament. The Wolverines will face the winner of the last two teams they faced to close the season, Illinois and Indiana, in the quarterfinals on Friday. The rest of the tournament bracket can be found here.
As the conference heads to Indianapolis to battle it out for the automatic NCAA Tournament berth, we took another look at the power rankings.
|1. Michigan (23-7, 15-3) • Even|
|Last week: Mar. 4 W at Illinois 84-53, Mar. 8 W vs Indiana 84-80|
|This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (8) Indiana or (9) Illinois 12pm ESPN/ESPN2
Michigan finished off an incredible conference season by outlasting Indiana on senior night. Jordan Morgan went out with a bang, recording his first double-double of the season and keeping the Wolverines alive early with critical offensive rebounds. The Big Ten outright champions earned the top seed in the conference tournament after running away from the pack and finishing three games ahead of second-place Wisconsin and Michigan State.
|2. Nebraska (19-11, 11-7) • Up 1|
|Last week: Mar. 5 W at Indiana 60-50, Mar. 9 W vs #9 Wisconsin 77-68
|This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (5) Ohio State or (12) Purdue 2:25pm ESPN/ESPN2
In its biggest game of the season Sunday, Nebraska beat Wisconsin to finish the year with a league-best 15-1 home record. Incredibly, the preseason pick to finish dead last in the Big Ten earned a first-round bye in the conference tournament and landed just one game out of second place.
|3. Wisconsin (25-6, 12-6) • Down 1|
|Last week: Mar. 5 W vs Purdue 76-70, Mar. 9 L at Nebraska 68-77|
|This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (7) Minnesota or (10) Penn State 6:30pm BTN|
Bo Ryan’s Badgers had their eyes set on a prize outside the Big Ten: A No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A nine-point loss to Nebraska seemingly eliminated Wisconsin from that discussion, but it still earned the second seed in the conference tournament after an 8-1 finish.
|4. Michigan State (23-8, 12-6) • Up 3|
|Last week: Mar. 6 W vs #24 Iowa 86-76, Mar. 9 L at Ohio State 67-69|
|This week: BTT quarterfinals Friday vs (6) Iowa or (11) Northwestern 8:55pm BTN|
Michigan State looked like it was back on track after a win over Iowa on senior night. However, a loss to Ohio State in the regular season finale dropped the Spartans to just 5-7 in their last 12 games and 1-2 since sending a healthy starting lineup back on the court.
|5. Ohio State (23-8, 10-8) • Up 3|
|Last week: Mar. 9 W vs #22 Michigan State 69-67|
|This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (12) Purdue 2:25pm BTN|
At the beginning of the conference schedule, Sunday’s Michigan State-Ohio State game looked like a potential shootout for the regular season championship. In reality, the game meant very little to the final Big Ten standings. But Aaron Craft did get a win on senior night, and the Buckeyes just barely managed to finish above .500 in the conference.
|6. Illinois (18-13, 7-11) • Down 1|
|Last week: Mar. 4 L vs #12 Michigan 53-84, Mar. 8 W at #24 Iowa 66-63
|This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (8) Indiana 12pm BTN|
John Groce’s team could’ve thrown in the towel after a nine-game losing streak planted it firmly in last place. Instead, the Illini rallied and won four of their last five games, all of which were against NCAA Tournament hopefuls (Minnesota is the only non-lock at this point).
|7. Minnesota (19-12, 8-10) • Up 2|
|Last week: Mar. 9 W vs Penn State 81-63|
|This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (10) Penn State 6:30pm ESPN2|
Minnesota put itself into a very tough position heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Losses in nine of 14 games put Minnesota on the outside of the tournament bubble looking in with just a home game against Penn State left. The Gophers did what they had to do, blowing out the Nittany Lions 81-63, but it still may not be enough.
|8. Iowa (22-11, 9-9) • Down 2|
|Last week: Mar. 6 L at #22 Michigan State 76-86, Mar. 8 L vs Illinois 63-66|
|This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (11) Northwestern 8:55pm ESPN2|
Near the midway point of the season, Iowa was ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll and competing for a Big Ten championship. After five losses in its final six games, this team is reeling at the worst possible time. Iowa drew a favorable matchup in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, facing a Northwestern team that it beat by 26 points — twice.
|9. Indiana (17-14, 7-11) • Down 5|
|Last week: Mar. 5 L vs Nebraska 60-70, Mar. 8 L at #12 Michigan 80-84|
|This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (9) Illinois 12pm BTN|
The preseason top-25 Hoosiers know there’s only one route to the Big Dance now: winning the conference tournament. Indiana dropped its last two games to land in the No. 8 slot in Indianapolis and a matchup against the streaking Fighting Illini.
|10. Penn State (15-16, 6-12) • Even|
|Last week: Mar. 6 W at Northwestern 59-32, Mar. 9 L at Minnesota 63-81|
|This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (7) Minnesota 6:30pm ESPN2|
Minnesota waxed Penn State in the final road game for the Nittany Lions, but they still managed to finish the conference season with a 6-6 record in the final 12 games after losing the first six. Penn State drew a rematch against the Gophers in the first round Thursday — a chance to strengthen its NIT resume.
|11. Northwestern (13-18, 6-12) • Up 1|
|Last week: Mar. 6 L vs Penn State 32-59, Mar. 9 W at Purdue 74-65|
|This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (6) Iowa 8:55pm ESPN2|
Northwestern quietly earned a big road win on Sunday to stay out of the cellar and finish 11th in the Big Ten. The Wildcats held much higher expectations after a 5-5 start, but a seven-game losing streak put any hopes of contending quickly to rest.
|12. Purdue (15-16, 5-3) • Down 1|
|Last week: Mar. 5 L at #9 Wisconsin 70-76, Mar. 9 L vs Northwestern 65-74|
|This week: BTT first round Thursday vs (5) Ohio State 2:25pm BTN|
Matt Painter’s team sure hit rock bottom this season. After nearly dethroning the first-place Michigan Wolverines two weeks ago, Purdue had its heart ripped out and lost its three final games. The Boilermakers finished the season by losing 11 of 13 games, including the final six.