With it being finals time for many in the Big Ten last week, the schedule was light. And it will be for many this week too, with a bunch of mid-majors in town around the holidays.

But after that, the Big Ten resumes, and the league has proven to be the deepest its been in recent memory. And good at the top too, with Purdue being the No. 1 team in the country. Let’s take a look at our Week 7 power rankings.

14. Minnesota

Record: 5-6 overall, 0-2 in the Big Ten | Last week: 14

Minnesota beat up on Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wednesday to break a 5-game losing streak, and it’s likely the Golden Gophers will get a small run to end the year — Chicago State and Alcorn State close out the 2022 slate in The Barn — but then the Big Ten resumes. Where does Minnesota win? While Minnesota does have some talent, it’s young and hasn’t meshed, and the Gophers aren’t shooting well, only 42% from the floor, and they don’t rebound. It’s all a bad combination.

13. Nebraska

Record: 6-6, 0-2 | Last week: 12

A problem for Nebraska is that its big marquee non-conference win over Creighton is looking less and less marquee. Since a 6-0 start and reaching No. 10 in the AP Poll, the Bluejays have lost 6 consecutive games. The Cornhuskers beat them by 10 on Dec. 4, a huge win for a Nebraska team that felt like it had finally taken a step forward this season. Has it? Saturday, Nebraska lost its 3rd straight since the win over Creighton, hitting only 2 jump shots and having 15 turnovers in the final 32 minutes of a loss to Kansas State.

12. Michigan

Record: 7-3, 1-0 | Last week: 13

Too frequently this non-conference season, Michigan has been forced to hold off unexpected challenges from mid-major programs. It did so earlier in the year vs. Eastern Michigan, Ohio and Jackson State, and did again on Saturday against Lipscomb. It’s left the Wolverines feeling as thought they’re holding on to the season, rather than building toward the Big Ten. Wednesday, they play North Carolina in Charlotte, matching up perhaps 2 of the country’s most disappointing teams thus far. Will the winner jump-start its season?

11. Northwestern

Record: 8-2, 1-0 | Last week: 11

Northwestern has won 3 consecutive games in December, starting with a victory at Michigan State. It’s likely to stay undefeated in the month, with home dates vs. UIC, then Brown. Then, the Wildcats restart Big Ten plays with consecutive home games against Ohio State and Illinois. If Northwestern can keep winning in Welsh-Ryan Arena, where it’s 5-1 this season, the Wildcats could build some early conference momentum.

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10. Rutgers

Record: 7-4, 1-1 | Last week: 10

After a rough week in which Rutgers fell at Ohio State on a bad game-ending call, then looked listless in a home loss to Seton Hall, the Scarlet Knights needed a rebound in the worst way. And Wake Forest was the unfortunate opponent that rolled into Jersey Mike’s. Rutgers pounded Wake defensively, as they’ve done to most opponents this season, but it’s on the offensive side that they needed to see improvements. And 5 players scored in double-figures in an 81-57 victory. The defense, which has been top-5 in the country in points allowed, likely will keep Rutgers in games, but it has to continue to find ways to be more efficient on offense. Saturday was a start.

9. Michigan State

Record: 7-4, 1-1 | Last week: 8

Michigan State has gone more than a week without playing, last beating Brown on Dec. 10, and won’t take the court again until Wednesday. After what was an inconsistent non-conference, with wins vs. Kentucky and Villanova but a loss at Notre Dame (and in the Big Ten to Northwestern), Michigan State wants to start to build, and it’ll get a chance with the next 4 in the Breslin Center, including re-opening the Big Ten vs. Nebraska and Michigan. If the Spartans can get Malik Hall back soon, then maybe consistency follows.

8. Penn State

Record: 8-3, 1-1 | Last week: 9

If the Nittany Lions get hot, watch out. Canisius was the latest to find out, as Penn State hit 13-of-22 3-point attempts and scored more than 90 points for the 4th time this season in a 30-point rout on Sunday. No one is going to be safe from Micah Shrewsberry’s group this season, because the Nittany Lions are forcing teams to play their style, small and fast. It might be enough to expect a finish in the top half of the league and potentially an NCAA Tournament bid. One thing to watch: Veteran forward Seth Lundy left the Canisius game early with an apparent injury.

7. Ohio State

Record: 7-3, 1-0 | Last week: 5

Former Northwestern star Pete Nance helped send North Carolina to overtime Saturday, before the Tar Heels beat the Buckeyes in New York City. It was a tough one, because it could have given the Buckeyes an extra résumé-building non-conference victory, assuming UNC recovers from some of its early-season struggles. But OSU has to be better against the press after struggling at times to get into its offense against the Tar Heels.

6. Indiana

Record: 8-3, 1-1 | Last week: 6

Indiana lost 2 straight games against top-10 opponents, Arizona and Kansas, in which it did little correct, leaving many to wonder whether the Hoosiers are primed to take a step forward this season, as many had expected. There are flaws: IU isn’t playing defense the way it needs to, giving up 89 and 84 in the losses to the Wildcats and Jayhawks. And when Trayce Jackson-Davis doesn’t get going offensively, the Hoosiers don’t seem to have others, at least consistently, who can step up to help at the offensive end. And point guard Xavier Johnson’s injury doesn’t help; he sat on the bench with his right foot in a boot for the 2nd half of the loss at Kansas.

5. Iowa

Record: 8-3, 0-1 | Last week: 7

Iowa has survived without Kris Murray, winning 2 of 3 (with the loss being in overtime to Wisconsin). Against SE Missouri State, it was Payton Sandfort’s turn to take over as the offensive star, as the previously slumping sophomore sharpshooter scored 24 points, including 17 in about a 4-minute span of the 1st half. Perhaps a silver lining of Murray being out — Iowa has not set a timetable for his return — is that others are forced to carry the offensive load. It’s been Connor and Patrick McCaffery at times, and now Sandfort. Clearly, though, Iowa’s ceiling is significantly lower as long as Murray (foot) is sidelined.

4. Maryland

Record: 8-3, 1-1 | Last week: 3

Coach Kevin Willard said it best after the 27-point loss to UCLA, the biggest margin in the history of the Xfinity Center: “Once in a while, you get your ass kicked.” The question for Maryland, after losing to ranked Tennessee and UCLA in consecutive games, is whether the Terrapins can recover after playing 4 ranked teams in a 2-week span, beating Illinois, but losing to Wisconsin, Tennessee and UCLA. Maryland isn’t very deep, and that has shown up during the current 3-game losing streak. And there aren’t many breaks in the Big Ten season either.

3. Illinois

Record: 8-3, 0-2 | Last week: 4

Although Illinois eventually pulled away from Alabama A&M on Saturday, the victory further revealed that the Fighting Illini might be a fractured group right now. In the postgame, veteran Matthew Mayer suggested that coach Brad Underwood had pushed the Illini hard during practice, but perhaps needed to back off. Underwood again has put together a team full of strong personalities, and getting them to gel will be an ongoing process. We’ll see how it turns out.

2. Wisconsin

Record: 9-2, 2-0 | Last week: 2

Wisconsin is in its finals week right now, after taking care of Lehigh Thursday night, when the Badgers ran away with about 10 minutes to go in the game. Uncharacteristically, the Badgers were lacking a bit of intensity for the first 30 minutes, before waking up from the threat of the Mountain Hawks to win their 4th straight game. Wisconsin is getting a scoring boost lately from reserve freshman Connor Essegian, including vs. Lehigh when he had 13 points and 6 rebounds off the bench.

1. Purdue

Record: 11-0, 2-0 | Last week: 1

It was a grind for the Boilermakers against Davidson in Indianapolis on Saturday, similar to what it was a week before at Nebraska. The common theme? Purdue isn’t shooting the ball well, only hitting 10-of-54 3-point attempts in the 2 games. But the Boilermakers are defending, hustling and rebounding, and they still have Zach Edey, who was great against Davidson, with 29 points and 16 rebounds. But Purdue will have to find its shooting touch once again if it’s to keep the undefeated start alive.