Big Ten men's basketball power rankings, 2/14

Big Ten men's basketball power rankings, 2/14

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Heading into the home stretch of the regular season with nothing much decided.

1. Penn State (19-5, 9-4)

The Nittany Lions get a promotion this week after dominating Purdue at Mackey Arena. Penn State has won seven in a row, and owns both a top 20 offense and a top 20 defense according to KenPom. KenPom also projects PSU to win six of its final seven games.

Up next: vs. Northwestern Sat.; vs. Illinois Feb. 18.

2. Maryland (20-4, 10-3)

Maryland nearly fell victim to its trap game against Nebraska before hanging on by a fingernail. The Terps have perhaps the most difficult remaining schedule of the Big Ten contenders, with two games against Michigan State and road trips to Ohio State, Minnesota and Rutgers.

Up next: at Michigan State Sat.; vs. Northwestern Feb. 18.

3. Michigan State (17-8, 9-5 Big Ten)

Had to have a win at Illinois, and got it in one of the wilder finishes you'll see this season, when Xavier Tillman slammed home Cassius Winston's missed layup and Illinois' Ayo Dosumnu was injured trying to set up a final shot for the Illini.

Up next: vs. Maryland Sat.; at Nebraska Feb. 20.

4. Illinois (16-8, 8-5)

Speaking of Illinois, that Michigan State defeat was the team's third loss in a row. The Illini caught a break when an MRI revealed no structural damage to Dosumnu's knee, but they'll need him back as soon as they can get him.

Up next: at Rutgers Sat.; at Penn State Feb. 18.

5. Purdue (14-11, 7-7)

Had won three in a row before Penn State rolled into town. Now come two straight road games at Ohio State and Wisconsin before closing the regular season with three of four at home. Boilermakers could do themselves a lot of good by stealing a win in one of those road games.

Up next: at Ohio State Sat.; at Wisconsin Feb. 18.

6. Rutgers (17-8, 8-6)

It's getting real for the Scarlet Knights, who have lost three of their last four and trailed Northwestern by 18 at home before rallying for their only win in that stretch. Of Rutgers' six conference losses, five have come by six points or less.

Up next: vs. Illinois Sat.; vs. Michigan Feb. 19.

7. Minnesota (12-11, 6-7)

Critical stretch upcoming for the Gophers, who play three of their next four at home with the lone road game at Northwestern. Sweep those four (which would include a win over Maryland), and the NCAA Tournament chances look a lot brighter.

Up next: vs. Iowa Sun.; vs. Indiana Feb. 19.

8. Ohio State (16-8, 6-7)

It appears the Buckeyes have turned things around after a stretch of six losses in seven games. OSU still isn't playing to the level it was early in the season, but still led Rutgers by 20 Wednesday night before eventually winning by six.

Up next: vs. Purdue Sat.; at Iowa Feb. 20.

9. Michigan (15-9, 6-7)

The Wolverines have also steadied themselves with four wins in their last five games, and the only loss by three points to Ohio State. Getting Isaiah Livers back in the lineup makes Michigan a different team offensively.

Up next: vs. Indiana Sun.; at Rutgers Feb. 19.

10. Iowa (17-8, 8-6)

Gave up 104 to Purdue, then scored 96 on Nebraska, then gave up 89 to offensively challenged Indiana while also losing sharpshooting freshman CJ Fredrick to an ankle injury. The Hawkeyes continue to get enormous performances from Luka Garza (38 points vs. the Hoosiers), who is close to locking up Big Ten player of the year honors.

Up next: at Minnesota Sun.; vs. Ohio State Feb. 20.

11. Indiana (16-8, 6-7)

The Hoosiers had lost four in a row, and scored 49, 59 and 62 points in the last three losses, before hitting 11 threes and controlling Iowa most of the way in a 89-77 win Thursday night. Indiana needs a few more performances like that over the next couple weeks to solidify its postseason hopes.

Up next: at Michigan Sun.; at Minnesota Feb. 19.

12. Wisconsin (14-10, 7-6)

The Badgers continue to putter along, winning at home and losing on the road. A loss in their next road game would be a killer. That comes Saturday at Nebraska. Since a road win over Penn State Jan. 11, Wisconsin is 4-0 in home games and 0-4 in road games.

Up next: at Nebraska Sat.; vs. Purdue Feb. 18.

13. Northwestern (6-17, 1-12)

Looked listless in a 25-point home loss to Michigan, one game after blowing an 18-point lead in a loss at Rutgers. Northwestern led the Scarlet Knights by 14 with 7:47 left in regulation only to lose in overtime. Tough to see a win on the schedule the rest of the way.

Up next: at Penn State Sat.; at Maryland Feb. 18.

14. Nebraska (7-17, 2-11)

Saturday's contest against Wisconsin could have historical implications. NU has lost nine straight games. The program record is 13 in a row. The three games after Saturday are against Michigan State, Illinois and Ohio State. The Huskers can beat the Badgers, and might have to if they want to avoid going in the record book.

Up next: vs. Northwestern Sat.; vs. Michigan State Feb. 20.

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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