Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 16 Edition

1 of 13

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 16

wisconsin
Getty Images

The Big Ten is one of the best conferences in the nation -- if not the best -- when it comes to basketball for the past few seasons. The conference has grown considerably since other conferences like the Big East and Pac-12 have sunken a bit.

While the Big Ten might be the best out there right now, the ACC is very close to passing it. Okay, so the Big Ten may not have a single team in the top 10 for week 16 and the highest-ranked team is only at No. 13, but that doesn't define how tough the conference really is.

Week after week, teams beat up on each other to rise to the top of the standings and no team is safe. The Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans are tied atop the standings with 10-3 records in conference play, but the Wolverines have the upper hand right now with a head-to-head win.

This upcoming Sunday will tell us a lot about both teams as they will likely be battling it out for the lead in the conference while the other will be on the outside looking in with just a few weeks left in the regular season. The Big Ten Tournament is only about a month away and teams are now jockeying for top seeds and trying to avoid the dreaded first round of play.

Week 15 is now in the books and the Big Ten power rankings for week 16 have had a few changes and will likely feature some hot teams at the top and the actual conference leaders might find themselves chasing others in my power rankings.

Let's take a look at the week 16 power rankings for the Big Ten. Let me know what you disagree with and why.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at connor.muldowney@rantsports.com.

2 of 13

12. Illinois Fighting Illini (14-12, 3-10)

illinois
Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

There may not be a team in the country that is struggling more than the Fighting Illini are right now. Illinois began the season with a 13-2 record and a ranking in the Top 25, but they have since dropped off considerably, losing their next eight games and 10 of their next 11 contests. It will take a conference tournament victory to make the NCAA Tournament this season.

This week: @ Minnesota (17-9)

3 of 13

11. Northwestern Wildcats (12-14, 5-8)

northwestern
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern might be in ninth place overall in the conference, but the Wildcats have lost three straight and four of the past six games. During their three-game losing streak, the Wildcats have lost two at home and have scored less than 50 points twice.

This week: @ No. 24 Ohio State (20-6), vs. Indiana (14-11)

4 of 13

10. Indiana Hoosiers (14-11, 4-8)

indiana
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana got off to a pedestrian 4-5 record in Big Ten play, but the Hoosiers have since dropped off the map. The Hoosiers have lost three consecutive games and six of the past eight games overall. Indiana once looked like a Tournament team, but the Hoosiers are struggling to even contend for the NIT.

This week: vs. No. 15 Iowa (19-6), @ Northwestern (12-14)

5 of 13

9. Penn State Nittany Lions (13-13, 4-9)

penn state
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, Penn State might be 4-9 in conference play and in 11th place, but the Nittany Lions show more heart than half the teams in the Big Ten. However, power rankings don't rate teams based on heart, but recent performance. Penn State has been the fourth-worst team in the past few weeks in conference play, losing three of four games -- two were against ranked opponents, however.

This week: @ Nebraska (14-10)

6 of 13

8. Purdue Boilermakers (15-10, 5-7)

purdue
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue was reeling two weeks ago, dropping four straight games, going from 13-5 to 13-9 right before our eyes. However, the Boilermakers have won two of their past three games including a tough triple overtime victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers at home. A win at Michigan State this week could move them up even more.

This week: vs. No. 13 Michigan State(21-5), @ Nebraska (14-10)

7 of 13

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-9, 6-7)

minnesota
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota is one of those sneaky-good teams in the Big Ten that will likely be a scary opponent come March. Not many teams will be happy to see the Gophers on their Tournament schedule -- even if they do make it in as a No. 11 or No. 12 seed.

This week: vs. Illinois (14-12), @ No. 24 Ohio State (20-6)

8 of 13

6. Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-10, 6-6)

nebraska
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska is coming off one of its biggest wins in school history on the road. The Cornhuskers took down the No. 9 Spartans on the road and improved to .500 in conference play in just their third season as members of the Big Ten. Pretty impressive for a football school. The Cornhuskers have now won five of their last six games in conference play and are as hot as anyone.

This week: vs. Penn State (13-13), vs. Purdue (15-10)

9 of 13

5. Ohio State Buckeyes (20-6, 7-6)

ohio state
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State Buckeyes don't really excel in any aspect of the game, but they are a thorn in the sides of many conference contenders. While Ohio State will likely be on the outside looking in for the remainder of the season in the conference title race, they can still ruin some teams' title hopes. The Buckeyes have now won four of their last five games after losing five of their previous six.

This week: vs. Northwestern (12-14), vs. Minnesota (17-9)

10 of 13

4. Michigan State Spartans (21-5, 10-3)

michigan state
Getty Images

Sure, Michigan State is atop the conference standings with Michigan, but the Spartans have been ice cold lately -- and injuries may have something to do with it. After beginning the season with a 19-2 record, the Spartans have lost every other game and three of their past five. It will take a mammoth effort from the Spartans on Sunday to take down the Wolverines on the road.

This week: @ Purdue (15-10), @ No. 20 Michigan (18-7)

11 of 13

3. Michigan Wolverines (18-7, 10-3)

michigan
Getty Images

Michigan and Michigan State can be 3A and 3B on this list easily, but for power rankings sake, I will give the Wolverines the overall edge because of the quality of losses in week 15. Michigan lost to a tough Wisconsin team at home while the Spartans lost to a less-talented and unranked Nebraska team at home. A big win against the Spartans on Sunday will catapult the Wolverines to first place in next week's power rankings -- that's a guarantee.

This week: vs. No. 13 Michigan State (21-5)

12 of 13

2. Wisconsin Badgers (21-5, 8-5)

wisconsin
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, Wisconsin might not be the second-best team in the conference, but they are the second-hottest. In fact, after last week's victories over Michigan State at home and Michigan on the road, the Badgers could make a serious case for first place in the power rankings. A win against Iowa this week on the road might just put them in that conversation.

This week: @ No. 15 Iowa (19-6)

13 of 13

1. Iowa Hawkeyes (19-6, 8-4)

iowa
Getty Images

Iowa has to be No. 1 in my rankings based solely on its standing in the Big Ten as well as its huge home win against Michigan at home a little over a week ago. The Hawkeyes haven't lost since Feb. 4 and are clawing their way back into the conference title talks.

This week: @ Indiana (15-11), vs. No. 16 Wisconsin (21-5)

Around the Web