B1G Basketball Power Rankings, Dec. 4: Purdue leads the way in spite of first loss
The 2023-24 college basketball season is rolling into December! As a result, conference play is starting to kick in with a number of teams already playing their Big Ten opener.
Speaking of which, Purdue suffered its first loss of the season in another recent upset for Northwestern. The Wildcats had a knack for big-game performances a season ago, and they knocked the Boilermakers from their No. 1 ranking to open league play.
That loss was not enough to upset the apple cart too much in the latest power rankings, but there are a small handful of teams starting to separate themselves coming out of November. Here is the latest edition of Tradition’s B1G hoops power rankings:
14. Maryland (4-4)
Maryland avoided further humiliation in nonconference play (so far), but the league opener against Indiana did not go well. The Terrapins were largely uncompetitive in a double-digit loss to the Hoosiers.
13. Minnesota (5-3)
A blowout loss to San Francisco in nonconference play is an ugly sign for Ben Johnson’s group. Opening B1G play on the road against Ohio State was also very unfavorable in a game the Buckeyes controlled all the way. Now, the Golden Gophers get a game against a surprisingly hot Nebraska team.
12. Penn State (4-4)
Penn State’s nice start to the season is quickly a thing of the past. The Nittany Lions have lost 4 straight, including 3 by double digits and the other coming at home to Bucknell. Now, a road B1G opener awaits, but that is a winnable game against Maryland.
11. Michigan (4-4)
Michigan had a nice showing on the road against Oregon as Juwan Howard began his transition back to the bench. Unfortunately, the Ducks prevailed with an overtime buzzer-beater. Dug McDaniel is continuing a breakout season for the Wolverines, but the B1G slate still looks daunting.
10. Rutgers (5-2)
The season-opening loss to Princeton does not look as bad these days, but the Scarlet Knights did not look great while losing the conference opener against Illinois. Road games against Wake Forest and Seton Hall should provide a better picture of what this team is made of.
9. Nebraska (7-1)
Nebraska ran its hot start to the season all the way to 7 games before suffering a loss to Creighton. Losing is one thing but the Huskers were blown out by 29 points while shooting 9% from 3-point range.
8. Iowa (5-2)
Iowa has scored at least 85 points in every win of the season and 90+ points 3 times. With conference play about to heat up, the Hawkeyes have 5 players averaging double figures. Early signs are that the key additions were the right ones for the season.
7. Michigan State (4-3)
The Spartans are banged up heading into their B1G opener, and the team is 0-2 in their first prominent nonconference matchups of the season. Tom Izzo isn’t going to change his schedule practices, and he shouldn’t. But, these were the games MSU was supposed to be winning with a veteran roster this season and not just competing in.
6. Indiana (6-1)
Indiana aced its first conference test of the season, and the roster is playing well so far. Kel’el Ware is playing like a difference maker on both ends of the floor, but the team will need to improve its 3-point shooting (25%) to compete for a B1G title.
5. Ohio State (7-1)
Ohio State was poised for a bounce-back season all along, and the Buckeyes secured a key win over Alabama in nonconference play. Provided Ohio State doesn’t take a surprising loss in a manageable December schedule, Chris Holtmann’s group should be in the AP Top 25 to start January.
4. Northwestern (6-1)
The debate between Northwestern and Ohio State for the fourth spot here ultimately came down to the win over Purdue. The Wildcats are putting together the early-season body of work needed for a team to get back to March Madness.
3. Wisconsin (6-2)
The upset of Marquette would have the Badgers even higher if not for an early-season loss to Providence. Even with that earlier loss, Wisconsin currently has 2 wins against ranked opponents. That’s second among B1G teams to Purdue’s 3.
2. Illinois (6-1)
The debate between Wisconsin and Illinois is a fun one, but that will all work itself out in time. The Illini looked great in a win over Rutgers on the road, and upcoming tests against FAU and Tennessee will provide even more answers for Brad Underwood’s team.
1. Purdue (7-1)
Yes, Purdue lost to Northwestern, and the issues plaguing the Boilermakers are notable. However, the Wildcats shot 50% from 3-point range at home in what always set up as a potential trap for Matt Painter’s squad.