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Big Ten power rankings: Jaden Ivey's dagger puts Purdue back on top

Another week of Big Ten play came with more close games, upsets and star performances. Jaden Ivey sunk a game-winning 3-pointer just before the buzzer to propel Purdue over No. 16 Ohio State at Mackey Arena.

Michigan State responded to a one-point loss at Illinois to dominate in-state rival Michigan at the Breslin Center and slow down the Wolverines’ push for the tournament. With nearly every team halfway through its conference schedule, here’s this week’s edition of Big Ten power rankings. (Stats through Jan. 30)

1) Purdue (18-3, 7-3)

Best win: 80-74 vs. No. 12 Villanova (neutral site)

Worst loss: 70-68 at Rutgers

Recent standout: Jaden Ivey (21 pts, game-winning 3pt FG vs. No. 16 Ohio State)

AP Poll: 4

NET: 8

KenPom: 8

SOS: 31

Quad 1 record: 6-2

Purdue started its week with a wire-to-wire win at Iowa led by Isaiah Thompson’s season-high 18 points on 4-for-6 3-point shooting. It was a bit of an off night for the twin towers of Zach Edey and Trevion Williams, who combined for 18 points and 14 rebounds, but the Boilermakers went 13-for-22 from beyond the arc.

Purdue then returned to Mackey Arena and led by as much as 20 points against Ohio State. E.J. Liddell tied the game with 24 seconds left, but Player of the Year candidate Jaden Ivey drilled a fadeaway 3-pointer just before the buzzer. This could be Matt Painter’s best chance at reaching the Final Four. 

2) Wisconsin (17-3, 8-2)

Best win: 74-69 at No. 4 Purdue

Worst loss: 86-74 vs. No. 13 Michigan State

Recent standout: Brad Davison (35 pts last two games)

AP Poll: 11

NET: 21

KenPom: 26

SOS: 8

Quad 1 record: 7-3

Wisconsin accomplished the expected this week – winning at Nebraska and taking down Minnesota at the Kohl Center – but both games were a bit too close for comfort. Nebraska made a storming comeback to lose by eight, and Minnesota tied the game with just over two minutes remaining. 

And still, Wisconsin doesn’t have a bad loss on its schedule. The Badgers have fallen to No. 15 Providence on a neutral court, at No. 16 Ohio State and at home against No. 13 Michigan State. Johnny Davis has led Wisconsin to 10 quadrant one and two wins, and with the recent strong play of Steven Crowl, the Badgers are poised to contend for the Big Ten title and a high seed in the NCAA tournament. 

3) Illinois (15-5, 8-2)

Best win: 56-55 vs. No. 13 Michigan State

Worst loss: 81-65 at Maryland

Recent standout: Kofi Cockburn (22 pts, 9 reb at Northwestern)

AP Poll: 18

NET: 15

KenPom: 16

SOS: 28

Quad 1 record: 2-3

Illinois picked up its best win of the season on Tuesday as Trent Frazier's 16 points led the Illini to a one-point win over No. 13 Michigan State. Brad Underwood outwardly criticized Frazier’s absence on the midseason Defensive Player of the Year Award watchlist, and Frazier held Max Christie to two points on 1-for-8 shooting.

The Illini then snuck away from Northwestern with a 59-56 win thanks to a dominant performance from Kofi Cockburn, who scored 22 points and snatched nine rebounds. Both of Illinois’ wins this week came without point guard Andre Curbelo.

4) Michigan State (16-4, 7-2)

Best win: 86-74 at No. 11 Wisconsin

Worst loss: 64-62 vs. Northwestern

Recent standout: A.J. Hoggard (11 pts, 10 ast vs. Michigan)

AP Poll: 13

NET: 18

KenPom: 19

SOS: 20

Quad 1 record: 3-3

Michigan State trailed by eight points with five minutes to go at No. 18 Illinois and nearly pulled off the comeback, but ultimately lost its second game in three tries. The Spartans then returned home and used a 44-point second half to beat Michigan 83-67.

A.J. Hoggard dished out 10 assists, and Max Christie, Joey Hauser and Malik Hall combined to shoot 7-for-10 from 3-point land. With Marcus Bingham Jr. blocking shots and Gabe Brown slashing from the wings, Michigan State has a plethora of ways it can defeat opponents. 

5) Indiana (16-5, 7-4)

Best win: 68-65 vs. No. 4 Purdue

Worst loss: 80-62 vs. Michigan

Recent standout: Xavier Johnson (59 pts, 23 ast last four games)

AP Poll: 6th in receiving votes

NET: 29

KenPom: 25

SOS: 85

Quad 1 record: 2-2

Indiana held Penn State to 17 first-half points and used a 12-0 start to obliterate the Nittany Lions. Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson combined for 33 points and 12 rebounds, but it was Xavier Johnson’s speed and decision making in transition that made the Hoosiers click.

The Hoosiers then won their second Big Ten road game of the season when they overcame an early 8-0 deficit to defeat Maryland by 13 points. Johnson has turned the corner as Indiana’s floor general, which is crucial as Rob Phinisee is now sidelined with plantar fasciitis. Next up is a battle of frontcourt stars when Kofi Cockburn and the Illini visit Assembly Hall on Feb. 5. 

6) Ohio State (13-5, 6-3)

Best win: 71-66 vs. No. 9 Duke

Worst loss: 71-68 vs. Florida (neutral site)

Recent standout: Malaki Branham (20 pts, 7 reb at No. 4 Purdue)

AP Poll: 16

NET: 19

KenPom: 21

SOS: 11

Quad 1 record: 3-5

Ohio State overcame a 20-point deficit at No. 4 Purdue to tie the game with less than a minute, but Jaden Ivey’s dagger sent the Buckeyes packing with their first loss in over two weeks. Even with the loss, the Buckeyes impressed in multiple ways as they outscored Purdue by eight points in the second half at Mackey Arena.

Malaki Branham continued his breakout freshman campaign by matching E.J. Liddell with 20 points, but the rest of the starting lineup scored just six points. The concern for Ohio State, though, is it hasn’t defeated a team projected to make the NCAA tournament since its Dec. 11 win over Wisconsin. 

7) Iowa (14-6, 4-5)

Best win: 83-74 vs. Indiana

Worst loss: 48-46 at Rutgers

Recent standout: Kris Murray (23 pts, 5 reb vs. No. 4 Purdue)

AP Poll: 9th in receiving votes

NET: 23

KenPom: 22

SOS: 40

Quad 1 record: 2-5

In its lone game of the week, Iowa squandered an opportunity at a huge résumé-bosting when it fell by 10 points at home against Purdue. The Murray brothers combined for 37 points and 14 rebounds but were largely left hanging by the rest of the Hawkeyes, who shot 4-for-16 from beyond the arc. 

Aside from a two-point loss at Rutgers, each of Iowa’s losses have come against quadrant one opponents. And with three games left against ranked opponents, Iowa still has opportunities to stake its claim for the NCAA tournament. 

8) Michigan (10-8, 4-4) 

Best win: 80-62 at Indiana

Worst loss: 75-65 vs. Minnesota

Recent standout: Hunter Dickinson (25 pts, 6 reb at No. 13 Michigan State)

AP Poll: Unranked

NET: 47

KenPom: 33

SOS: 25

Quad 1 record: 1-4

After two double-digit wins a week ago, Michigan came back to Earth with a two-point home win over Northwestern. Caleb Houstan continued his hot streak with 18 points on 3-for-5 3-point shooting, and Eli Brooks scored in double digits for the first time since Jan. 4.

But when Michigan’s legitimacy was really tested, it crumbled on the road in a 16-point loss to Michigan State. Hunter Dickinson did all he could to power Michigan to an upset on the road, scoring 25 points, but the Wolverines connected on just three shots from beyond the arc. There are still chances for Michigan to make a push for the tournament, but time is running out. 

9) Rutgers (12-8, 6-4)

Best win: 70-68 vs. No. 4 Purdue

Worst loss: 53-51 vs. Lafayette

Recent standout: Mawot Mag (13 pts, 7 reb, 4-4 FG at Nebraska)

AP Poll: Unranked

NET: 113

KenPom: 102

SOS: 86

Quad 1 record: 2-2

Rutgers suffered a demoralizing home loss to Maryland in a game where the Terrapins shot 48 percent from beyond the arc. Four of Rutgers’ five starters scored in double digits, but the rest of the team contributed just six points and dug itself a 12-point first-half hole. 

The Scarlet Knights nearly handed Nebraska its first conference win of the season, but Ron Harper Jr. stepped up to hit clutch free throws down the stretch. With Rutgers connecting on field goals at the second-lowest rate in the conference, postseason hopes are dwindling in Piscataway. 

10) Northwestern (9-10, 2-8)

Best win: 64-62 at No. 13 Michigan State

Worst loss: 74-70 vs. Penn State

Recent standout: Pete Nance (21 pts, 5 reb vs. No. 18 Illinois)

AP Poll: Unranked 

NET: 78

KenPom: 68

SOS: 16

Quad 1 record: 1-8

Northwestern fell a few possessions short of turning its season around and instead solidified its position towards the bottom of the Big Ten. The Wildcats tied the game with less than two minutes left at Michigan, but allowed DeVanté Jones to take control of the game down the stretch. 

Pete Nance did his best to hang with Kofi Cockburn when Northwestern hosted Illinois, but again, the Wildcats crumbled in the final minutes. With two losses by one possession in one week, Northwestern has had its last gasp at a .500 record in conference play. 

11) Maryland (11-10, 3-7)

Best win: 81-65 vs. No. 18 Illinois

Worst loss: 71-66 vs. George Mason

Recent standout: Eric Ayala (22 pts, 8 reb at Rutgers)

AP Poll: Unranked 

NET: 100

KenPom: 90

SOS: 33

Quad 1 record: 2-5

After picking up a solid road win at Rutgers, Maryland laid an egg at home against Indiana. The Terrapins continued to launch 3s despite their lack of success and ended the afternoon 6-for-27 from 3. 

Maryland’s starting lineup turned the ball over 13 times against Indiana and allowed easy looks in the paint throughout the game. With just three points coming from the bench, Maryland severely lacks depth and frontcourt strength, which is tough to overcome playing in the Big Ten. 

12) Minnesota (11-7, 2-7)

Best win: 81-76 at Mississippi State

Worst loss: 81-71 vs. Iowa

Recent standout: Payton Willis (17 pts at No. 11 Wisconsin)

AP Poll: Unranked

NET: 86

KenPom: 91

SOS: 26

Quad 1 record: 2-7

Minnesota competed with Ohio State in the first half thanks to a strong start form Payton Willis and just two turnovers all game, but the Buckeyes outscored Minnesota by nine in the second half. Minnesota was outrebounded by 26 and allowed 49 points to Ohio State’s main frontcourt contributors.

Later in the week, Eylijah Stephens tied the game with just over two minutes left, but Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis scored the game’s final six points. Minnesota has now lost six of its past seven games and its 10-1 start to the season feels like years in the past. 

13) Penn State (8-9, 3-6)

Best win: 61-58 vs. Indiana

Worst loss: 81-56 at UMass

Recent standout: Jalen Pickett (28 pts last two games)

AP Poll: Unranked

NET: 96

KenPom: 83

SOS: 7

Quad 1 record: 1-7

Penn State took the court just once this week and was run out of the gym at Indiana. The Nittany Lions trailed by as many as 31 points, and Jalen Pickett and John Harrar were the only players to score double digits. 

Penn State is the Big Ten’s lowest scoring team and has now lost four of its last five games. Year one of the Micah Shrewsberry era finishing above .500 overall would be a positive at this point of the season. 

14) Nebraska (6-15, 0-10)

Best win: 74-65 vs. Sam Houston

Worst loss: 75-74 vs. Western Illinois

Recent standout: Bryce McGowens (29 pts, 7 reb vs. Rutgers)

AP Poll: Unranked

NET: 202

KenPom: 182

SOS: 27

Quad 1 record: 0-8

Nebraska squandered its best chance at a conference win when it blew a four-point lead with three minutes remaining on its home court against Rutgers. Freshman phenom Bryce McGowens did his best to will Nebraska to its first win since Dec. 22, finishing with 29 points and seven rebounds. 

Two home contests with Northwestern and Minnesota in the next 10 days represent two more opportunities for the Cornhuskers to secure a win in conference play.

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