Rankings reflect games played through Sunday, January 22.
At 8-1 in conference play, Purdue sits two and a half games ahead of second place, and can be as big as three and a half up on the second place team by this time next week. In order for the rest of the teams to share the regular season crown with the boilers, they’d have to go undefeated the rest of the way, then hope and pray that the Boilers lose at least two more times.
Places two through 10 are all separated by one game, and two through 13 are separated by two and a half games. In other words, tiebreakers are going to come in handy by the time the Big Ten Tournament rolls around.
No wonder they’re the only team ranked in the AP poll this week.
1: Purdue Boilermakers
They had a scare against Maryland on Sunday, but outside of that, Purdue just keeps chugging along. Now ranked No. 1 in the AP poll once again, the Boilers have a chance to lock down the ranking for the rest of the season if they can keep winning.
2: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers has the inside track to a No. 2 finish in Big Ten play, as long as they can avoid the midseason lull that they’re so known for. They started off on the wrong foot losing to Michigan State last week, and avoiding a losing streak is of utmost importance now. With three of the next four at home (or near home, in the case of Michigan State), one of which being the return game against the Spartans, they should stay in the hunt through early February.
3: Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans have lost three of four, but the one win was the aforementioned Rutgers blowout last week. The schedule does not let up however, as they have Iowa, at Purdue, Rutgers at Madison Square, then Maryland on the docket. If they want to stay in the hunt for a top 4 finish, they may want to go 3-1 down this stretch.
3: Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin got back on the winning column against Penn State last week, and, with their game at Northwestern postponed, they get to build a winning streak again when they face the Wildcats in the rescheduled matchup.
5: Indiana Hoosiers
The Hoosiers were left for dead a couple of weeks ago, but have now reeled off three wins in a row, with a likely fourth one coming when they face Minnesota on Wednesday. Get past that, and a date with Ohio State awaits them this weekend before the schedule ratchets up once more.
6: Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines have been trading wins and losses based on whether they’re at home or on the road as of late. Lucky for them, the next home game comes against Purdue. Will that be enough? If not, they play Penn State and Northwestern on the road right after, two teams they have already beat at home.
7: Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois had won four straight before Indiana blew the doors off them last week. The Illini will try to pick up the pieces against Ohio State at home.
7: Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern did not play last week, as both of their games got postponed due to Covid. They will play five games in nine days as a result.
9: Penn State Nittany Lions
Like Michigan, the Nittany Lions have been trading wins and losses based on where they’re playing. They have a great opportunity to buck the trend this week, as they head over to New Jersey to face Rutgers in what should be a raucous environment.
10: Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa came across a bump on the road last week, as Ohio State had an easy go of it. The Hawkeye defense was unable to stop a team that was in the middle of a five-game losing skid at the time, thus their own winning streak came to a screeching halt. They do get three home games in the next four, but the road contest is against Michigan state.
11: Maryland Terrapins
Maryland nearly took Purdue to overtime last Sunday, but the shot(s) came just short and the Boilers prevailed. The Terps are another team who is finding the comfortable confines of home a lot more forgiving than the road.
12: Ohio State Buckeyes
Stopping the skid doesn’t warrant a bump.
13: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska is one win away from eclipsing their total from last season. The were hoping it would come against the Nittany Lions, but Penn State used a strong second half to send them packing.
14: Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Gophers uglied up the game against Michigan, but they weren’t able to push through in what could have been their second road win of their Big Ten season.