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

By | February 27, 2024

Vaughn Dalzell shares his Big Ten Power Rankings as we head into 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 after the road loss at Ohio State. The Boilermakers are heavy favorites in their last two home games against Michigan State (-10) and Wisconsin (-10), but expected a short favorite in Illinois (-1).

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

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

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

Illinois hosts Minnesota and Purdue with road games at Wisconsin and Iowa to end the season. The road to ending February and beginning March won’t be easy for Illinois, but with the ability to score 80-plus points as they have in the last 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 seventh or worse in the Big Ten standings.

While we can’t keep that up against Nebraska, they end the season at Ohio State, hosting Rutgers, and then at Michigan, a very winnable stretch. Nebraska is getting hot at the right time and may have the easiest remaining schedule in the Big Ten.

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

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

The Wildcats have won four of the past five games after OT losses in consecutive games. Northwestern ranks sixth in the nation in offensive turnover percentage (13.4%) and fifth in three-point offense (39.5%), but has not posted any significant wins since the win over 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 games in a row for the third time this season, this time against Iowa and Ohio State. Michigan State has Purdue on deck, so the Spartans will be going 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 has won two of its past three after dropping four straight games, continuing its longest losing streak of the season. The Badgers head to Indiana and Purdue, while Llinois and Rutgers host to close out the season.

Wisconsin can’t afford any more tough losses, but the Badgers have a chance to build on their 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 in the top 75 in both offensive and defensive effectiveness this season and are 15-3 at home.

Minnesota’s final four games could go either way, but they are on the outside looking into 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 in the last three games with 85, 78 and 88 points. The Hawkeyes rank 11th in offensive efficiency, but 162nd in defensive efficiency.

Iowa plays itself into the NCAA Tournament conversation, but has a tough road ahead against Penn State, Northwestern and Illinois. Not only that, they are a team that needs to 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 moving in the right direction, having won 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 against Nebraska and Michigan, plus a road game at Rutgers.

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

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

Maryland earned a much-needed win over Rutgers and has two more home games against Northwestern and Indiana. Next up, the Terps are at Penn State so they can win all three games and put themselves on the bubble ahead of their Big Ten tournament performance.

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

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

The Nittany Lions stunned Illinois and followed that up with a nine-point win over Indiana. Back-to-back games at Iowa and Minnesota will likely end the winning streak, but the offense is coming alive at the right time for Penn State. The Nittany Lions have 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 against Maryland. The Scarlet Knights have previously won four in a row, so their tournament chances are out of the question. The last four games look like a 2-2 or 1-3 situation for Rutgers, so it will likely be a first-round exit from 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, leaving Mike Woodson in first place. The Hoosiers are the underdogs in the last four games and will likely finish below .500.

It’s tough to win with one of the worst three-point (290th) and free-throw shooting teams (345th) in the country, and the Hoosiers don’t 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 straight games and 10 of its last 11. The Wolverines have two road games at Rutgers and Ohio State before closing the season at home against Nebraska. Michigan has lost eight straight road or neutral-court games, so an exit in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament is likely.

Power Rankings listed

  1. Purdue

  2. Illinois

  3. Nebraska

  4. Northwest

  5. State of Michigan

  6. Wisconsin

  7. Minnesota

  8. Iowa

  9. State of Ohio

  10. Maryland

  11. Penn State

  12. Rutgers

  13. Indiana

  14. Michigan

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

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

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

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