Iowa Ohio St Basketball

Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop (right) drives against Iowa forward Ahmad Wagner during a game in Columbus on Saturday. Ohio State won 82-64.

Paul Vernon, The Associated Press

1. Ohio State (22-5, 13-1 Big Ten)

The Buckeyes are a half-court heave from Penn State's Tony Carr from possibly being undefeated in the league. The rematch is Thursday in State College, a big matchup for both teams. OSU plays three of its final four games away from Columbus.

2. Michigan State (24-3, 12-2)

The Spartans have won eight in a row, the past five coming by single digits, and the past three by three points each. MSU is 24-3 for the first time in 17 years, and will likely be 25-3 for the first time ever after Tuesday's game at Minnesota.

3. Purdue (23-4, 12-2)

Fell short, barely, in its two biggest tests this conference season with a one-point loss to Ohio State on Keita Bates-Diop's putback with 2.8 seconds left and a three-point loss to Michigan State on Miles Bridges' three-pointer with 2.7 seconds to go. Still, the Boilermakers are a No. 1 seed in the NCAA selection committee's bracket projection released Sunday. 

4. Nebraska (19-8, 10-4)

Nebraska is 10-4 through 14 conference games for the first time since the 1975-76 season. That's 42 years for those of you trying to do the math. But to make more history, the Huskers must keep winning. Beat Maryland on Tuesday night, and NU will match the 2013-14 NCAA Tournament team's 11 league wins.

5. Michigan (20-7, 9-5)

The Wolverines are ranked 22nd in the Associated Press Top 25, 21st in the USA Today coaches poll, and have a 20-point loss to the team directly ahead of them in these power rankings. But yes, the Big Ten is down this year.

6. Penn State (18-9, 8-6)

The Nittany Lions have won five of their past six, with the only defeat a road loss at Michigan State. Now come games against No. 8 Ohio State, at No. 6 Purdue and against No. 22 Michigan in a span of seven days before finishing the season at Nebraska in what is shaping up to be an enormous contest.

7. Maryland (17-10, 6-8)

Great at home (14-2) and lousy on the road (1-7, with the win a one-point victory at lowly Illinois). That, and massive injury problems, have been the story of Maryland's season. The door is closing quickly on any hope of a NCAA Tournament berth.

8. Indiana (14-12, 7-7)

The Hoosiers are 1-5 against the teams currently ahead of them in the Big Ten standings, 6-2 against the teams below them, and 5-5 in their past 10 games overall. The epitome of an average basketball team.

9. Northwestern (15-11, 6-7)

It feels like the Wildcats are going to beat somebody they shouldn't, either to finish the regular season, or in the Big Ten Tournament. They have wins over Penn State and Michigan, and a close loss to Ohio State over the past three weeks. 

10. Wisconsin (11-16, 4-10)

The Badgers have three wins in 2018: two against Illinois and one at home against Indiana. Ethan Happ is a first-team all-conference performer, and has been excellent in recent weeks. But there just isn't enough around him right now.

11. Iowa (12-15, 3-11)

The Hawkeyes' game at Minnesota on Feb. 21 could decide who avoids the play-in round of the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa missed its chance for its season-highlight upset in a 96-93 home loss last week to Michigan State.

12. Minnesota (14-13, 3-11)

Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy are great, great players. But to call this season a disaster for Minnesota is putting it mildly. The Gophers have 10 losses in their past 11 games, including seven in a row, and are probably as ready as anyone for the offseason to arrive. 

13. Illinois (12-14, 2-11)

How about this finish for the Illini: at Indiana, home against Nebraska, at Michigan State, home against Purdue, at Rutgers. That's five games in 12 days, four of them against the top half of the league, with a young roster at the end of a tough season. 

14. Rutgers (12-15, 2-12)

We can all respect Candido Sa's decision to turn out of the way of Isaiah Roby's monster dunk Saturday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Better to live and fight another day than end up on a poster.

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


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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