Big Ten power rankings

The Wolverines haven’t lost consecutive games all season. Other than a minor skid of three losses in five games, Michigan has avoided the extended slump that has plagued the rest of the conference, which is why the Wolverines have already clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title.

2. WISCONSIN BADGERS (24-5, 11-5)
Seven consecutive wins and counting for the Badgers, who are finding a little more balance now. Earlier in the season, it was all about the offense, but the defense was struggling. There are still defensive deficiencies, and occasional offensive cold spells, but both are more consistent.

The Spartans have lost three of four with tough games against Iowa and Ohio State to round out the season. It’s a team that is as close to full strength as its been since the season started, but it may yet take some time for all those healthy pieces to get on the same page.

4. IOWA HAWKEYES (20-9, 9-7)
We know the Hawkeyes are a potent bunch on offense, but they’ve got to find some level of defensive resistance after giving up 95 and 93 points, respectively, in losses to Minnesota and Indiana last week. Iowa even allowed 76 points to offensively challenged Purdue.

5. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (22-8, 9-8)
Back-to-back losses on the road at Penn State and Indiana sapped all the momentum the Buckeyes had built up over the previous three weeks. As good as the defense is, Ohio State will only go so far as the offense can take it. And when OSU isn’t scoring in the lane, that’s not very far.

The Cornhuskers have won six of seven and are either in the last four in or the first four out for the NCAA Tournament, depending on who you read. This final week against Indiana and Wisconsin could very well make or break Nebraska.

With just one regular-season game remaining against Penn State, the Gophers’ future will likely be determined by the Big Ten Tournament. It will also be determined by Minnesota’s offense, which has averaged 50.3 points in the last three losses and put up 95 in a win over Iowa.

8. INDIANA HOOSIERS (17-12, 7-9)
The Hoosiers have regrouped with three wins in the last four games to get back on the periphery of postseason discussion. Senior Will Sheehey has stepped up his game, and Indiana has a newfound fight, which it will need to knock off Nebraska and Michigan this week.

Quite similarly to their easterly neighbors, the Illini have regained their stride with three straight wins, including a stunning upset of Michigan State in East Lansing. The freshmen are growing up, helping Illinois became multi-dimensional. The Illini also still harbor postseason hopes.

10. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS (15-14, 5-11)
Since toppling rival Indiana, the Boilermakers have been obliterated by Michigan State and Nebraska. It’s another case of one step forward and two steps back for Purdue, which seems unable to get in sync more than once every two weeks.

11. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (14-15, 5-11)
The Nittany Lions continue to pull out a surprising win here and there, the latest a win over Ohio State that completed a season sweep of the Buckeyes. They were competitive with Wisconsin as well, continuing to show fight and the desire to get above .500 for at least a potential NIT berth.

Six straight losses and the loss of JerShon Cobb (stress fracture) for the season has taken some of the zip out of Chris Collins’ first season at the helm. The Wildcats have two winnable games left vs. Penn State and Purdue with a chance to come away with some momentum for next year.