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Big Ten men's basketball power rankings, 2/23
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Big Ten men's basketball power rankings, 2/23

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Penn St Iowa Basketball

Iowa center Luka Garza grabs a rebound over Penn State forward John Harrar during the first half of Sunday's game in Iowa City, Iowa.

Only two weeks remain in this roller coaster of a regular season. Michigan looks like it's going to be tough to catch, but Big Ten Tournament seeding possibilities abound beyond the Wolverines.

1. Michigan (16-1, 11-1 Big Ten)

What a year for the Wolverines, who continue to impress. The most recent example came over the weekend, in an impressive win over No. 4 Ohio State that might end up being college basketball's game of the year. Juwan Howard is rightly getting national coach of the year consideration in just his second season.

Up next: vs. Iowa Thu.; at Indiana Sat.

2. Ohio State (18-5, 12-5)

If the Buckeyes have a weakness, it's a defense that can get a little leaky at times. Giving up 92 points to Michigan is one thing, but allowing Penn State to score 82 is another. The Buckeyes don't force many turnovers, which is an issue when a competent (or better) offense rolls into town.

Up next: at Michigan State Thu.; vs. Iowa Sun.

3. Illinois (16-5, 12-3)

Seven wins in a row for the Illini, with the chance to stack a few more before facing Michigan and Ohio State in back-to-back games to end the regular season. There isn't a more exciting team to watch right now in the league than Brad Underwood's crew.

Up next: at Michigan State Tue.; vs. Nebraska Thu.; at Wisconsin Sat.

4. Iowa (17-6, 11-5)

Luka Garza passed Roy Marble as Iowa's career scoring leader. The senior has been a force of nature during his time in Iowa City, but how he's remembered around the Big Ten may well depend on the next few weeks as the Hawkeyes try to navigate a difficult closing stretch heading into the postseason.

Up next: at Michigan Thu.; at Ohio State Sun.

5. Purdue (15-8, 10-6)

Despite ranking just 176th nationally in three-point percentage, 103rd in two-point percentage and 125th in effective field-goal percentage, the Boilermakers have the 27th-most efficient offense in the country thanks to one of the slowest tempos in America and an elite big man in Trevion Williams.

Up next: at Penn State Fri.

6. Wisconsin (16-8, 10-7)

Wisconsin's only wins so far in February: Penn State, Nebraska, Northwestern. The Badgers are doing the inverse of what they did last season when they won their final eight games to surge into a tie for the Big Ten title. There aren't any gimmes left on UW's schedule, either.

Up next: vs. Illinois, Sat.

7. Maryland (14-10, 8-9)

Took care of business last week by winning three home games in four days, then went on the road and downed Rutgers for good measure. There's a decent chance, with their remaining schedule, that the Terps could be on a seven-game winning streak going into the Big Ten Tournament.

Up next: vs. Michigan State Sun.

8. Rutgers (12-9, 8-9)

The Scarlet Knights will always have to wonder what might have been with last season's team had there been an NCAA Tournament. They're still going to get in this year, barring a total collapse, but it just hasn't quite clicked the way many thought it would with all that Rutgers was returning on that roster.

Up next: vs. Indiana Wed.; at Nebraska March 1.

9. Michigan State (11-9, 5-9)

Rallied from a lousy start to beat Indiana on the road, but the rest of the schedule is a doozy: two games against Michigan, one each against Illinois and Ohio State, and a road trip to red-hot Maryland along with another game against the Hoosiers. It's going to be a big hill to climb for Sparty to get into the NCAA Tournament conversation.

Up next: vs. Illinois Tue.; vs. Ohio State Thu.; at Maryland Sun.

10. Indiana (12-10, 7-8)

There's a growing sense that this is just what Indiana is — a team that's OK, not great, and one that doesn't have what it takes to rise to the biggest occasions. That's not acceptable in Bloomington, even though it will probably lead to an NCAA Tournament berth.

Up next: at Rutgers Wed.; vs. Michigan Sat.

11. Minnesota (13-10, 6-10)

The Gophers got a licking laid on them by Illinois in a 31-point home loss, their sixth defeat in the last eight games. Minnesota is just 3-8 over its last 11, but also has double-digit wins over league leaders Minnesota and Ohio State. Games against Northwestern, Nebraska, Penn State at Rutgers to end the season will provide a chance to build some momentum.

Up next: vs. Northwestern Thu.; at Nebraska Sat.

12. Penn State (7-12, 4-11)

The Nittany Lions play pretty much everybody tough. Unfortunately for Penn State, close doesn't count for much. Still, the effort this season has to be commended after former coach Pat Chambers resigned just before the start of the season.

Up next: at Nebraska Tue.; vs. Purdue Fri.

13. Northwestern (6-14, 3-13)

You have to wonder how long the leash is for Wildcats coach Chris Collins, who is on the way to his sixth losing season in eight years in Evanston, Illinois. The 2017 NCAA Tournament run feels like a long time ago for this program.

Up next: at Minnesota Thu.; vs. Maryland March 3.

14. Nebraska (5-15, 1-12)

It's become a familiar formula for the Huskers, who can play with pretty much any team in the league for 30 or so minutes. NU isn't far off when it comes to athleticism. But Nebraska's shortcomings — a lack of a true point guard and a serious lack of shooters — have been too much to overcome.

Up next: vs. Penn State Tue.; at Illinois Thu.; vs. Minnesota Sat.

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

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Husker men's basketball/baseball 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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