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Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings: Week 17 Edition

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Week 17 Big Ten Power Rankings

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Week 17 of the college basketball season is now in the books and it looks like the Big Ten is getting more and more competitive as the regular season nears its end. March is just a week away and it looks like the top teams in the conference are scratching and clawing their way to the top.

The Michigan Wolverines are in the conference's driver's seat, but other teams are close behind and looking to make one final push for a regular season conference title. Michigan controls its own destiny, however, as the Wolverines took down the team they had been tied with atop the conference prior to Sunday, the Michigan State Spartans.

In the biggest game of the year for both teams, the Wolverines beat Michigan State for the second time of the season and, this time, the victory came at home. It was close for a half, but the Wolverines created separation during the second half of a 79-70 victory over their in-state rivals.

While Michigan is atop the conference's standings, they aren't even the hottest team in the Big Ten right now. It seems like the Wisconsin Badgers have finally hit their stride after a rocky month, or so, of Big Ten play which saw them lose five conference games. Wisconsin has now won five games in a row after losing five of its previous six games.

Some may argue that the Big 12 or ACC are the top conference in college basketball, but the Big Ten might be the deepest from top to bottom. It's not often you see a conference with eight teams that could legitimately make the NCAA Tournament.

Let's take a look at the week 17 Big Ten basketball power rankings. There has been some movement near the top and the bottom, but the middle teams remain unchanged. Let me know if you agree/disagree.

Is it March yet?

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

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12. Northwestern Wildcats (12-16, 5-10)

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Northwestern has lost five straight games and six of its past eight. The Wildcats' last win came on Feb. 1 at Minnesota. Yes, that was nearly a month ago. Things almost looked promising when they started conference play with a 5-5 record.

Last week: 11

This week: at Nebraska (16-10)

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11. Illinois Fighting Illini (15-12, 4-10)

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It's almost hard to believe that Illinois was ranked at one point this season. The Fighting Illini have lost 10 of 12 games after starting the season with a 13-2 record -- which seems like ages ago now. A win at Minnesota in the Fighting Illini's only game of last week has ended a major slump, giving them just their third road win of the year.

Last week: 12

This week: vs. Nebraska (16-10), at No. 18 Michigan State (22-6)

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10. Penn State Nittany Lions (13-14, 4-10)

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Penn State has not had the ideal season -- not even in stretches. Well, the Nittany Lions began the season with a 6-1 record, but have since dropped off drastically, going 7-13 since. The Big Ten has not been kind to Penn State, handing it four losses in its last five games, including a loss at Nebraska last week.

Last week: 9

This week: vs. No. 22 Ohio State (22-6), vs. No. 14 Wisconsin (22-5)

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9. Purdue Boilermakers (15-12, 5-9)

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Week 16 was a forgettable one for the Boilermakers as they lost both of their games. Purdue began the week with a 15-10 record and a fighter's chance to make the NCAA Tournament depending on how it fared in week 17 against some of the conference's best teams. However, the Boilermakers lost to both Michigan State and Nebraska by 15-plus points.

Last week: 8

This week: vs. No. 16 Michigan (19-7), at No. 20 Iowa (19-7)

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8. Indiana Hoosiers (15-11, 5-8)

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Indiana was heading into Big Ten play with a 10-3 record and all the confidence in the world -- even after losing two top-five draft picks from the 2012-13 team. However, the Hoosiers have struggled in conference play thus far, even losing six of eight before winning their only game of last week against Northwestern on the road. They were scheduled to play Iowa, but that game had been postponed due to building problems and rescheduled for this week.

Last week: 10

This week: at No. 14 Wisconsin (22-5), vs. No. 20 Iowa (19-7), vs. No. 22 Ohio State (22-6)

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7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-11, 6-9)

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Minnesota was 13-3 prior to playing Michigan State and taking them into overtime on Jan. 11. However, the Gophers have gone just 4-8 since the hot start and are now on the bubble and projected as one of the first teams out by many experts. They could prove a lot this week, showing how they can respond to two losses against Illinois and Ohio State last week.

Last week: 7

This week: vs. No. 20 Iowa (19-7), at No. 16 Michigan (19-7)

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6. Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-10, 8-6)

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Nebraska is one of the Big Ten's biggest surprises and head coach Tim Miles has turned Nebraska basketball from a laughing stock into a serious conference threat. The Cornhuskers have won five games in a row and seven of its last eight games. They could easily win both of their games this week as well and winning out during the regular season would give them a 20-10 record and a likely NCAA Tournament berth. When in doubt, give the ball to Terran Petteway.

Last week: 6

This week: at Illinois (15-12), vs. Northwestern (12-16)

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5. Ohio State Buckeyes (22-6, 9-6)

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Ohio State is, slowly but surely, climbing back from the awful 3-5 start that it had to begin Big Ten play. The Buckeyes have won six of seven games and they could easily finish the season with a 12-6 record in conference play by winning out. However, two road games against lesser conference teams this week could be a true test of how far this team has truly come.

Last week: 5

This week: at Penn State (13-14), at Indiana (15-11)

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4. Michigan State Spartans (22-6, 11-4)

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Michigan State remains fourth in my power rankings -- and that's being generous. The Spartans have been as mediocre as they come since losing Branden Dawson to a hand injury about a month ago, going 4-5 without their talented junior forward. Dawson will be back this week and the Spartans will be at full strength for the first time since the first month or two of the season -- yeah, it's been a while. If this team plays to its full potential, it could be the conference's best and deepest team. Until then, they are lucky to be fourth.

Last week: 4

This week: vs. Illinois (15-12)

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3. Iowa Hawkeyes (19-7, 8-5)

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Iowa was scheduled to have two games in week 16, but the building problems at Indiana have forced a third game in week 17. How the Hawkeyes handle playing three games this week could speak volumes of how ready they are for tough March play and how quickly they can prepare for the next team. Iowa was my top team last week, but a loss at home against a red-hot Wisconsin team has dropped them to third.

Last week: 1

This week: at Minnesota (17-11), at Indiana (15-11), vs. Purdue (15-12)

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2. Michigan Wolverines (19-7, 11-3)

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Michigan moved into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten after a huge home win against Michigan State on Sunday afternoon, but the Wolverines aren't even the hottest team in the conference right now. Michigan does, however, control its own destiny in the conference title race, and if they win the games they are supposed to, the Wolverines will be conference champs once again.

Last week: 3

This week: at Purdue (15-12), vs. Minnesota (17-11)

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1. Wisconsin Badgers (22-5, 9-5)

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Wisconsin is scorching right now. I previously mentioned the term "red-hot" to describe this team, but white-hot is more appropriate. After starting conference play with a 4-5 record through nine Big Ten games, the Badgers have reeled off five straight wins. Three of the Badgers' past four wins have been against ranked opponents and the last two have been on the road against top-15 opponents. Yes, watch out for these Badgers -- the team that has the best overall record in the conference at 22-5.

Last week: 2

This week: vs. Indiana (15-11), at Penn State (13-14)