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Ranking the B1G: Top Teams Avoid Upsets

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A lot of top teams came very close to losing this week, but managed to avoid disaster.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

In a week that saw a ton of top teams in other conference lose games against vastly inferior opponents, the Big Ten avoided a major upset to one of its top teams, but not for lack of trying each of the top four teams found themselves in games that came down to the last minute, but won them all.

1) Purdue Boilermakers (Last Week: 1)

Previously: W vs Maryland 75-67, W at Rutgers 78-76

Purdue was this close to having its first Big Ten loss of the season against Rutgers, of all teams. If you ask Rutgers fans, the refs were trying to preserve that #1 seed for Purdue. Maryland didn’t make things easy either.

Up Next: vs No. 17 Ohio State (Wed), at No. 5 Michigan State (Sat)

2) Michigan State Spartans (LW: 2)

Previously: W vs Penn State 76-68, W at Indiana 63-60

Michigan State got a scare from Penn State, but they responded in the same way they did the prior week against Maryland. A decisive run in the second half erased a 12-point deficit and turned the tides around for the Spartans. Meanwhile, they almost gave the game to Indiana late. **** gets real though as they face Purdue this week. Whatever it is they’ve got going on* needs to be put aside for this game.

Up Next: at Iowa (Tue), vs No. 3 Purdue (Sat)

3) Ohio State Buckeyes (LW: 3)

Previously: W vs Indiana 71-56, W vs Illinois 75-67

After easily dispatching Indiana, the Buckeyes got a major scare from Illinois. The Illini led by 17 well into the first half, and looked to be poised for a blowout victory on the road. Ohio State then scored the next 19 points, only to fall behind again in the second half in similar fashion. Illinois had a second half lead of 28-16, putting them up eight points in that half. Ohio State, once again, roared back to finish the game with a win. Missing Kam Williams to suspension looks to be impactful.

Up Next: at No. 3 Purdue (Wed), vs Iowa (Sat)

4) Michigan Wolverines (LW: 4)

Previously: W vs Northwestern 58-47, W vs Minnesota 76-73 (OT)

A good week for the Wolverines all things considered (like Ohio State above, they trailed Minnesota for a good portion of the game). Michigan need to keep pace with Nebraska if they want to take the last double-bye spot, so winning the games they should matters. Because of a weird scheduling quirk, though, the Wolverines play Northwestern again with only one game in between.

Up Next: at Northwestern (Tue), at Wisconsin (Sun)

5) Nebraska Cornhuskers (LW: 5)

Previously: W at Wisconsin 74-63

Nebraska is now on their “just keep swimming” portion of the schedule. That started out well with a win at Wisconsin.

Up Next: at Minnesota (Tue), vs Rutgers (Sat)

6) Penn State Nittany Lions (LW: 8)

Previously: L at No. 5 Michigan State 68-76, W vs Iowa 82-58

Penn State’s week would have felt more like a disappointment if they hadn’t been for how they responded to losing the game at Michigan State. The Nittany Lions had the Spartans on the ropes for a good portion of the game, but Michigan State turned a 12-point second-half deficit into an eight-point victory. Penn State made sure that couldn’t happen against Iowa.

Up Next: vs Maryland (Wed), at Illinois (Sun)

7) Maryland Terrapins (LW: 7)

Previously: L at No. 3 Purdue 67-75, W vs Wisconsin 68-63

Thank the lord for Wisconsin, otherwise Maryland would be on a four-game losing streak. The Terps have just Michigan left on the schedule as a potential quadrant one win. They’re going to need a miracle to make the tournament at this point.

Up Next: at Penn State (Wed), vs Northwestern (Sat)

8) Indiana Hoosiers (LW: 6)

Previously: L at No. 13 Ohio State 56-71, L vs No. 6 Michigan State 60-63

Playing back to back ranked teams is never a good thing when you’re looking to stay afloat in conference play, and this week turned out exactly as you would have expected for Indiana. They got run out of the gym early against Ohio State mainly by their own doing, and let one slip away against Michigan State. If the Hoosiers could make their free throws, they’d have at least three more Big Ten wins.

Up Next: at Rutgers (Mon), vs Minnesota (Fri)

9) Northwestern Wildcats (LW: 9)

Previously: L at No. 24 Michigan 47-58, W at Wisconsin 60-52

Northwestern split its road games last week, looking lost against Michigan, but very efficient against Wisconsin at times. Their reward? Michigan, again, a week later.

Up Next: vs No. 24 Michigan (Tue), at Maryland (Sat)

10) Iowa Hawkeyes (LW: 11)

Previously: W vs Minnesota 94-80, L at Penn State 58-82

The fight to avoid Wednesday begins. Iowa comes on top this time by beating Minnesota.

Up Next: vs No. 5 Michigan State (Tue), at No. 17 Ohio State (Sat)

11) Minnesota Golden Gophers (LW: 10)

Previously: L at Iowa 80-94, L at No. 24 Michigan 73-76 (OT)

Minnesota’s easiest remaining games are on the road at Wisconsin and at home against Iowa. They will be hurting for wins for the remainder of the season.

Up Next: vs Nebraska (Tue), at Indiana (Fri)

12) Illinois Fighting Illini (LW: 12)

Previously: W vs Rutgers 91-60, L at No. 17 Ohio State 67-75

Don’t be fooled. The Rutgers score looks much closer than the game. Meanwhile, the Ohio State score looks way more lopsided than it was. In fact, Illinois led by 17 in the first half before the Buckeyes came roaring back.

Up Next: vs Wisconsin (Thu), vs Penn State (Sun)

13) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (LW: 13)

Previously: L at Illinois 60-91, L vs No. 3 Purdue 76-78

The effects of not having any firepower on offense have been put on full display recently for the Scarlet Knights. Ironically, they had one of their best offensive nights against Purdue, but it still wasn’t enough. Luckily, they get a team as inconsistent offensively as they are this week, where they could notch another conference win.

Up Next: vs Indiana (Mon), at Nebraska (Sat)

14) Wisconsin Badgers (LW: 14)

Previously: L vs Nebraska 63-74, L vs Northwestern 52-60, L at Maryland 63-68

There was a time when you could safely pencil in the Badgers as a top four team in the Big Ten, season after season. Now, they go on five-game losing streaks.

Up Next: at Illinois (Thu), vs No. 24 Michigan (Sun)

*We all know what they’ve got going on but we don’t need to talk about it.

Ranking criteria:

  1. Recent performance
  2. Overall body of work
  3. Season expectations