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There appears to be some separation in the latest Big Ten hoops power rankings from Chris Basnett

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Nebraska vs. Purdue, 1.14

Purdue forward Trevion Williams (50) shoots between Nebraska defenders Alonzo Verge Jr. (1) and Eduardo Andre (35) in the second half Friday in West Lafayette, Ind.

We're starting to see some separation, with Purdue, Illinois and Wisconsin emerging as the league's top teams and everyone else a step or two behind. Still plenty of season left to sort everything out.

Rankings do not include these Tuesday games: Wisconsin at Northwestern, IUPUI at Ohio State, Maryland at Michigan.

1. Purdue (15-2, 4-2 Big Ten)

You generally know what you're going to get from Purdue's Big Three of Jaden Ivey, Zach Edey, and Trevion Williams. It's when the Boilermakers' complementary players step up — like Sasha Stevanovic did against Illinois — that Purdue really gets rolling downhill. Highest ceiling of any team in the Big Ten.

Up next: at Indiana Thu.; vs. Northwestern Sun.

2. Illinois (13-4, 6-1)

Couldn't get past Purdue at home, but the return of guard Andre Curbelo adds another dimension to a really good team. The Illini should be favored in each of their next five games until the rematch with the Boilermakers on Feb. 10.

Up next: at Maryland Fri.; vs. Michigan State Jan. 25.

3. Wisconsin (14-2, 5-1)

Nobody takes care of the ball better than the Badgers, who turn the ball over on just 12.2% of their possessions. That's the top mark in the nation, and means more touches for Johnny Davis, Brad Davison, Tyler Wahl and the rest. Wahl's emergence at forward gives UW another dimension.

Up next: vs. Michigan State Fri.; at Nebraska Jan. 25.

4. Ohio State (11-4, 5-2)

The Buckeyes stepped out of conference Tuesday night to play IUPUI, a team ranked 356th out of 358 Division I squads at KenPom. OSU was able to add the game because of COVID-19 pause in December. After that is a home game against Nebraska. Favorable schedule.

Up next: vs. Nebraska Sat.; at Minnesota Jan. 27.

5. Iowa (13-4, 3-3)

Iowa's offense this season might be better than last year's when the Hawkeyes had two NBA players in the starting lineup — third nationally in efficiency, second in turnover percentage, top 35 in two-point shooting and free-throw shooting.

Up next: at Rutgers Wed.; vs. Penn State Sat.

6. Michigan State (14-3, 5-1)

The Spartans had been playing with fire for a couple of weeks before Northwestern waltzed into the Breslin Center without their best player and beat Tom Izzo's squad while shooting just 38% from the floor. MSU has six days off between that game and Friday's tilt at Wisconsin. Probably some enjoyable practices happening.

Up next: at Wisconsin Fri.; at Illinois Jan. 25.

7. Indiana (13-4, 4-3)

Had Iowa beat on the road until committing 14 second-half turnovers and blowing an 11-point lead. Hoosiers have a chance for a signature win on Thursday when they host Purdue in what should be a wild atmosphere.

Up next: vs. Purdue Thu.; vs. Michigan Sun.

8. Rutgers (10-6, 4-2)

One game after scoring 93 against Nebraska, the Scarlet Knights mustered just 49 in a loss at Penn State. Rutgers has Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State and Ohio State at home in the next few weeks, along with road trips to Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern. A chance to build momentum.

Up next: vs. Iowa Wed.; at Minnesota Sat.

9. Michigan (7-7, 1-3)

Between COVID postponements and the way the schedule has broken, Michigan hasn't played a home game since Dec. 18. Tuesday's matchup against Maryland is just the second conference home game the Wolverines have played this season.

Up next: at Indiana Sun.; vs. Northwestern Jan. 26.

10. Northwestern (9-6, 2-4)

Northwestern owns one of the more out-of-nowhere wins of the season, nipping Michigan State on the road without Pete Nance to end a four-game losing streak. The next task for the Wildcats is to build on that momentum. Won't be easy with its next four games against Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan and Illinois.

Up next: at Purdue Sun.; at Michigan Jan. 26.

11. Penn State (8-7, 3-4)

The Nittany Lions have been pretty darn solid since the calendar turned, going 3-2 with the losses coming by seven points to Purdue and by five points to Ohio State on the road. It's going to take some wins to climb out of the bottom four, but PSU is capable.

Up next: at Iowa Sat.; at Indiana Jan. 26.

12. Maryland (9-8, 1-5)

Maryland tried really hard to hand Northwestern a win last week, allowing the Wildcats to score six points in four seconds to tie the game with 11 seconds left in regulation before eventually winning in overtime. In a bit of a quirky stat, that was Maryland's first overtime game since 2017.

Up next: vs. Illinois Fri.; at Rutgers Jan. 25.

13. Minnesota (10-5, 1-5)

Here's to hoping Eric Curry, who briefly retired from the game because of injuries before coming back for one more year, is able to get back on the floor soon after getting dinged up against Michigan State. Saturday's game against Rutgers probably represents the Gophers' best chance for a win until they play Nebraska on Feb. 9.

Up next: vs. Rutgers Sat.; vs. Ohio State Jan. 27.

14. Nebraska (6-13, 0-8)

The Huskers haven't held a lead in their last 92 minutes, 45 seconds of basketball. Even considering the competition, that's rough. But, it could always be worse: There were four power conference teams ranked lower than Nebraska's 204th in the NET rankings as of Tuesday afternoon — Oregon State, Georgetown, Georgia and Missouri.

Up next: at Ohio State Sat.; vs. Wisconsin Jan. 25.

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

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Assistant sports editor/high schools

A Ravenna native, Chris Basnett joined the Journal Star in 2016 and has more than 20 years of experience covering prep, college, and professional sports.

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