1. WISCONSIN BADGERS (14-3, 3-1)
No change at the top, as you might expect, as the Badgers easily dispatched visiting Ohio State in their lone game of the week. Wisconsin hosts Michigan this week before a trip to Minnesota that should provide a little better measuring stick.
2. MARYLAND TERRAPINS (16-2, 4-1)
The Terps are proving to be more consistent than you might expect from a young and still-developing team, outdueling Indiana down the stretch and then snagging a road win at Illinois. Another road win at Iowa this week would be an even bigger statement.
3. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS (14-4, 3-2)
Prosperity loves misery, or some such platitude, applies to the Boilers, who stubbed their toe at Iowa last week in what was not an entirely surprising, but still disappointing result. Home games with Illinois and Penn State this week should right the ship.
4. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (12-7, 4-2)
It remains a bit of a one step forward, one step back situation for the Spartans, who are still searching for consistency, particularly on the road after a loss at Ohio State over the weekend. This week’s lone game is another road test at Indiana.
5. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (15-4, 3-3)
The Golden Gophers have received the anticipated reality check over the past week with road losses at Michigan State and Penn State, the former by a blowout and the latter a squeaker. After a mid-week bye, we’ll see how Minnesota responds when Wisconsin visits.
6. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (15-4, 4-2)
This is the fast riser of the conference as the Wildcats have put together three straight wins, capped by an annihilation of Iowa over the weekend. Northwestern, a 9 seed in the latest NCAA projections, now gets a mid-week bye before a big road test at Ohio State.
7. INDIANA HOOSIERS (12-6, 2-3)
Hoosiers missed an opportunity at Maryland and took care of business against Rutgers, setting up a big week with a trip to Penn State and home game against Michigan State that could give us a better idea of just what direction IU is headed.
8. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (11-7, 3-2)
After Northwestern, Penn State might be the other head-turner in this early part of the Big Ten season after back-to-back wins over Michigan State and Minnesota. The Nittany Lions will go for the hat trick when Indiana visits ahead of a difficult trip to Purdue.
9. NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (9-8, 3-2)
Nebraska’s early momentum in conference play has faded after a second loss at Michigan last weekend, but hosting Ohio State and visiting Rutgers offers an opportunity for the Cornhuskers to regain their footing and keep postseason hopes alive.
10. IOWA HAWKEYES (11-8, 3-3)
Finding any sort of rhythm remains elusive for the Hawkeyes, who have so far been winners at home and losers on the road. Both will be tested when Iowa hosts Purdue and visits Northwestern this week, with its postseason trajectory likely to be determined.
11. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (12-6, 2-3)
The Wolverines, like much of the league, are still searching for some sort of consistency, and getting both Zak Irvin and Duncan Robinson going from 3 would help. A trip to Wisconsin will make that a difficult task this week, before returning home to face Illinois.
12. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (11-7, 1-4)
The Buckeyes get in the win column and move up a spot after knocking off Michigan State to avoid an 0-5 start in league play. Whether Ohio State can carry that level of play on the road at Nebraska is up for debate and a challenging home date with Northwestern follows.
13. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (12-6, 2-3)
Splitting a pair of home games with Michigan and Maryland just means the Illini avoided disaster, but didn’t exactly flip the switch completely. Road trips to Purdue and Michigan will test an Illinois squad that has not been good outside of Champaign this season.
14. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (11-8, 0-6)
After seeing the Scarlet Knights in person, I can confirm that they have a long way to go just to catch up to the bottom half of the Big Ten and doing so quickly won’t be easy. A mid-week bye should help Rutgers get healthy, and we’ll see what kind of shot they can give visiting Nebraska.