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Big Ten Power Rankings: Who Wants Second Place?

It's a five-way tie for second in the conference as Wisconsin begins to pull away.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

We have a lot to discuss (expect for one team that we're purposely not discussing), so let's go straight to the rankings this week.

Tier 4: Cellar Dwellers

14. Northwestern (10-11, 1-7) (Previous: 14)

After the win over Rutgers to start B1G play, the Wildcats have dropped seven straight. Some have been heartbreakers, like the loss in College Park, while others have been less impressive, such as a home loss to Purdue on Saturday. Bryant McIntosh is playing very well as a freshman, and I still worry about Alex Olah's ability to beat small-ball teams like Indiana on the inside, but this team needs a win soon to regain some of its confidence.

13. Rutgers (10-13, 2-8) (Previous: 13)

With six straight losses since the Wisconsin upset, Rutgers is another team that could use a win. But props to the Scarlet Knights, who gave IU all it could handle for about 35 minutes on Saturday afternoon before the Hoosiers pulled away. The snowstorm messed up Rutgers' schedule last week, as a Tuesday night tip against MSU got moved to Thursday evening, so their game tomorrow at Illinois will be their third in six days.

Also, if you were following our Twitter feed on Saturday, you likely noticed that Rutgers has a bunch of combative JERSEY TOUGH GUY fans. No wonder Chris Christie has been elected governor twice in that state.

12. Penn State (14-8, 2-7) (Previous: 12)

The Nittany Lions held Minnesota off at home, but could not beat a shorthanded Illinois team on the road yesterday. Penn State has a brutal schedule down the stretch, as they are projected to win only two more of their nine games. Could coach Pat Chambers be on the hot seat at the end of this year if Penn State can't get an NIT berth?

Tier 3: Stayin' Alive

11. Nebraska (12-9, 4-5) (Previous: 7)

Average points for the Huskers in the past two games: 43

Average PPP for the Huskers in the past two games: 0.735

Percent of Nebraska points scored by Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields the past two games: 48.8

Tim Miles' team can play defense against anyone in the country, but if only Shields and Petteway are scoring, then this team is in trouble going forth.

10. Minnesota (14-9, 3-7) (Previous: 11)

The Golden Gophers have a week off before they host Purdue, but after that, Minnesota has four out of five on the road, where they've yet to win a single B1G game. Getting to .500 in the B1G, which seemed like a reasonable goal before the season started, will be a challenge for this team, especially with two games yet to play against Wisconsin.

9. Illinois (14-8, 4-5) (Previous: 10)

Not only are Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby hurt for the Illini, they also have been indefinitely suspended. Despite only playing eight players on Saturday, however, Illinois still found a way to take out Penn State. With a nonconference win over Baylor and a conference win over Maryland, the Illini could find themselves on the bubble if they finish the B1G season strong; however, they will have to overcome the injuries and suspensions first.

8. Iowa (13-8, 4-4) (Previous: 6)

The Hawkeyes' game against Michigan on Thursday will only be their fourth game in 17 days. In conference play, that's an eternity. But with three straight losses, has the Iowa late-season slump started early this season? Or has Dan Dakich totally gotten into their heads?

7. Michigan (13-9, 6-4) (Previous: 9)

In addition to Caris LeVert, point guard Derrick Walton Jr. will now have to miss time. But despite the Wolverines being shorthanded, John Beilein proved that he's a wizard, as Michigan went into East Lansing and took Sparty to overtime before losing. This team is going to go down fighting, and IU's game against the Wolverines in Assembly Hall on Sunday will hardly be a walkover.

Tier 2: The Battle for Second Place

6. Michigan State (15-7, 6-3) (Previous: 5)

The Spartans survived an overtime scare at Breslin from their in-state rivals. This was actually the fifth overtime game Sparty has played THIS SEASON, which likely contributes to their luck ranking of 327th on Kenpom. Regardless, MSU's two best wins this season are blowouts against Iowa and Indiana, but these victories are looking less impressive than they did a couple weeks ago.

5. Indiana (16-6, 6-3) (Previous: 2)

As Troy Williams goes, so go the Hoosiers. Williams had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds (or if you count his 11 deflections, an "Indiana triple-double") as the Hoosiers survived a hot shooting day from Rutgers to win by eight. Tom Crean was obviously upset with Williams's subpar play at Purdue, and thus he was benched to start the game. Other players might have had their confidence shaken by this, but not Williams, who responded strongly and seemed to be cutting to the basket at will. The last three performances have been concerning for the Hoosiers, and next up is big bad Wisconsin, but at 6-3 and in a five-way tie for second place in the B1G right now, I think we can be satisfied with where the Hoosiers stand right now.

4. Purdue (14-8, 6-3) (Previous: 8)

I'm not saying anything more about Purdue because no matter how nice I'll try to be, the H&R commenters will probably come after me for disrespecting their beloved Boilers.

3. Maryland (18-4, 6-3) (Previous: 3)

The shine has come off the Terps in the past couple weeks, after two road blowouts against Ohio State and Indiana, and a home win against Northwestern that required some last-second heroics. However, the Terps have a chance to right the ship when Penn State comes to the Xfinity Center on Wednesday, and at 18-4, Maryland still is not in danger of missing out on their first NCAA tournament in five years.

2. Ohio State (17-5, 6-3) (Previous: 4)

It's all about D'Angelo Russell right now. Not only is Russell in the driver's seat for B1G freshman on the year, but he also might be second only to Frank Kaminsky as the conference's best player right now. In addition, Russell might be the best pro prospect in the conference at this point. JaQuan Lyle's commitment to OSU last week pretty much settled that Russell will leave early for the draft (he's projected to go 2nd by DraftExpress right now), so Buckeyes fans need to enjoy the Louisville native's play while he's still around.

Tier 1: Bo Knows

1. Wisconsin (19-2, 7-1) (Previous: 1)

Can anyone catch the Badgers this season? As much as I want IU to win on the road tomorrow, the irony of Wisconsin finishing 17-1 with their only conference loss to Rutgers would be almost too hilarious to pass up.