Purdue Penn St Basketball

Purdue's Carsen Edwards (3) drives past Penn State's Rasir Bolton (13) during the first half of a game in University Park, Pa., on Feb. 4.

1. Purdue (16-6, 9-2 Big Ten)

It's good to be a Boilermaker. Of Purdue's seven consecutive wins, five have been by double digits and another was by nine (in overtime at Penn State in a game Purdue led by 17 at one point). Playing outstanding basketball, with the most potent player in the league in Carsen Edwards. Of the Boilermakers' nine remaining games, just two come against teams currently in the top half of the Big Ten standings. 

Up next: vs. Nebraska Saturday; at Maryland Feb. 12

2. Michigan State (18-4, 9-2)

Suddenly, the Spartans have a losing streak on their hands. And with the news that Joshua Langford will miss the rest of the season because of a stress injury in his left foot, last week was not the best one for Michigan State this season. The Spartans are still tied for first in the Big Ten, but they won't run away and hide from the rest of the league like some thought just a couple weeks ago.

Up next: at Illinois Tuesday; vs. Minnesota Saturday

3. Michigan (20-2, 9-2)

Got smacked by 15 at Iowa last week, and did it while struggling to score against the worst defense in the conference. Michigan's offense is officially an issue, which is nothing short of bizarre for a John Beilein-coached team. The defense remains outstanding, but the Wolverines need to remember how to put the ball in the hole. They've failed to score 60 points in three of their last five games.

Up next: at Rutgers Tuesday; vs. Wisconsin Saturday

4. Wisconsin (16-6, 8-3)

The Badgers are suffocating opponents during their five-game winning streak, having allowed 54, 60, 46, 51 and 61 points. Now a game out of first in the conference race, Wisconsin faces a defining stretch — games against Minnesota and league leaders Michigan and Michigan State, with the first two of those contests on the road. The good news for the Badgers? Wisconsin has won six of its last seven Big Ten road games.

Up next: at Minnesota Wednesday; at Michigan Saturday

5. Iowa (17-5, 6-5)

Got the signature win it so desperately needed, throttling Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Freshman Joe Wieskamp is an emerging star. And the Hawkeyes don't play any of the teams currently tied for first (Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue) the rest of the regular season. 

Up next: at Indiana Thursday; vs. Northwestern Sunday

6. Maryland (17-6, 8-4)

Here's a wild stat: since taking over at Maryland in 2011, Mark Turgeon is 0-18 in road games against ranked opponents. For someone who's won 67 percent of his games in his seven-plus seasons in College Park, that's a crazy number. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Terps have lost three of their last four, with all three losses away from home. The Terps are in a stretch of playing 8-of-11 games away from home, with Nebraska up next.

Up next: at Nebraska Wednesday; vs. Purdue Feb. 12

7. Minnesota (16-6, 6-5)

Led Purdue by 11 in the second half in West Lafayette before the Boilermakers came back to win by 10. The Gophers likely aren't going to win the conference title, but they're good enough to beat anybody in the league. Richard Pitino's seat has cooled considerably since the beginning of the season.

Up next: vs. Wisconsin Wednesday; at Michigan State Saturday

8. Ohio State, (14-7, 4-6)

Kaleb Wesson's line against Rutgers: 8-for-9 shooting, 21 points, three assists. And that was just the first half. The forward finished with 27 as the Buckeyes won for the second time in their last three games. A favorable stretch right now for OSU to steady things after its five-game losing streak.

Up next: vs. Penn State Thursday; at Indiana Sunday

9. Indiana (13-9, 4-7)

One game does not a season make, but the Hoosier perhaps took an enormous step toward salvaging a year that was spinning out of control with an overtime win at Michigan State. The Hoosiers did it largely without star forward Juwan Morgan, who missed the second half with a shoulder injury. His health will be key for IU going forward, and the senior returned to practice this week.

Up next: vs. Iowa Thursday; at Ohio State Sunday

10. Northwestern (12-10, 3-8)

The Wildcats play at one of the slowest paces in the nation (282nd nationally, according to KenPom) but they also don't make many shots (281st in effective field goal percentage) and struggle to rebound their misses (259th in offensive rebound percentage). Other than that, it's a juggernaut on par with the old Loyola Marymount teams.

Up next: at Iowa Sunday; vs. Rutgers Feb. 13

11. Illinois (7-15, 3-8)

The Illini are suddenly spicy, with a pair of top-30 KenPom wins in their last three games. No one is saying Brad Underwood's crew is going to make a Cinderella run, but Illinois is trending in the right direction after starting Big Ten play 0-5. A lot of intriguing pieces are in place in Champaign, with more on the way next season.

Up next: vs. Michigan State Tuesday; vs. Rutgers Saturday

12. Nebraska (13-9, 3-8)

It's not like teams are playing well against NU during this five-game losing streak. Michigan State had its third-lowest scoring game of the season. Rutgers trailed 31-18 before rallying. Ohio State shot 41 percent. Wisconsin looked as inept as the Huskers at times offensively. Illinois was 9-for-23 at the free-throw line and got outrebounded by 14. The Huskers, right now, simply cannot get out of their own way.

Up next: vs. Maryland Wednesday; at Purdue Saturday

13. Rutgers (11-10, 4-7)

If the Big Ten Tournament started today, Rutgers would not be in the play-in round. Laugh if you want, but Steve Pikiell continues to make progress. Eugene Omoruyi and Geo Baker give the Scarlet Knights a good inside-out combination as Rutgers continues to play really good defense. 

Up next: vs. Michigan Tuesday; at Illinois Saturday

14. Penn State (8-14, 1-10)

Put on a clinic on how to start 0-10 in conference play in a loss to Purdue: fall behind by 17 at home, come all the way back to take a two-point lead with less than 10 seconds left, then let the Big Ten's leading scorer (Carsen Edwards) go the length of the floor virtually unguarded for a tying layup before getting outscored 14-5 in overtime. Penn State got its first conference win Monday night by beating Northwestern.

Up next: at Ohio State Thursday; vs. Michigan Feb. 12

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


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