Big Ten Power Rankings: Spartans make case to finish atop league in final rankings
The Big Ten basketball season is officially over and the rest of college basketball is only a few days away from concluding the 2022-23 season as well.
The final team left standing from the Big Ten this year was Wisconsin in the NIT semifinals — losing to North Texas earlier this week. The last team standing in the NCAA Tournament — which is honestly more important — was our very own Michigan State Spartans.
Michigan State was the only Big Ten team of eight that were in the NCAA Tournament to make it out of the first weekend, eventually getting knocked out in the Sweet 16. So does that mean the Spartans end the season as our top-rated team in our weekly power rankings? Let’s see below..
Record: 9-22 (2-17 in Big Ten)
It doesn’t get much worse than what Minnesota put on the floor this season. The Golden Gophers had a relatively strong finish to the year — and single-handily kept Rutgers from reaching the NCAA Tournament — but overall this was one of the worst major conference teams in the country.
Record: 19-15 (10-10 in Big Ten)
Rutgers couldn’t have had a worse finish to the season, losing eight of their final 11 games — which included a first round exit in the NIT thanks to a home loss to Hofstra. The poor finish led to Rutgers missing out on the NCAA Tournament — which seemed impossible to happen back in January.
Record: 16-16 (9-11 in Big Ten)
Nebraska finished the season as one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, giving some the thought that the Cornhuskers could go on a run in the conference tournament. That didn’t happen, but there was still some positive momentum to end the year as we head into the offseason.
Record: 18-16 (11-9 in Big Ten)
Michigan was a sleeping giant that simply never woke up this year. The Wolverines would show flashes of a dominant team that could make a run in the NCAA Tournament but their late-game failures ultimately kept Michigan from reaching the big dance. It’s going to be an interesting offseason in Ann Arbor, Mich. as expectations are much higher for the Wolverines than what we saw this year.
Record: 16-19 (5-15 in Big Ten)
Ohio State is right up there with Michigan as the most disappointing team in the league this year. The Buckeyes were able to get some things going late in the year — which included three wins in three days to reach the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. But overall, this was a very disappointing year for Ohio State.
Record: 20-15 (9-11 in Big Ten)
Wisconsin was a bubble team for most of the year but was unable to make enough plays late in the year to clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Anytime the Badgers aren’t dancing, it’s a bad year for them. But they at least finished relatively strong in reaching the NIT semifinals.
Record: 19-14 (11-9 in Big Ten)
Iowa exceeded their preseason expectations by reaching the NCAA Tournament this year so overall you can’t be disappointed in the Hawkeyes performance this season. However, there were moments where Iowa looked the part of a team that could finally reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in over 20 years. So I also understand the frustration Iowa fans may have with another early exit in March.
Record: 20-13 (11-9 in Big Ten)
Illinois is a lot like Iowa except that we had much higher expectations for the Fighting Illini entering this year. So losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament certainly feels like a disappointing season for Illinois — but maybe that’s just who they are at this point of the Brad Underwood tenure?
Record: 22-13 (11-9 in Big Ten)
Maryland wasn’t expected to have the kind of success they experienced this past season in reaching the NCAA Tournament and even winning a game in the big dance. The Terps struggled away from home, but overall this was a solid year for Maryland to build upon moving forward.
Record: 22-12 (12-8 in Big Ten)
No one saw this kind of year coming for Northwestern — who many picked to finish last in the league. Instead, Northwestern finished second in the Big Ten and earned their second ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats also picked up a victory in the big dance before getting knocked out by UCLA in the second round.
Record: 23-14 (10-10 in Big Ten)
Penn State had an incredible year in 2022-23, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in what seems like forever. Not only did the Nittany Lions reach the postseason, but they were able to win a game and came close to upsetting Texas to reach the Sweet 16. Had they found a way to win that game, there would have been a great chance they would have reached the Final Four with how well they were playing.
Record: 23-12 (12-8 in Big Ten)
Indiana was the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten this year and for large chunks of the year, they looked the part. The Hoosiers failed to win the conference or make it out of the first weekend in the NCAA Tournament so it’s tough to consider it a successful season in Bloomington, Ind. but also not fair to call it a bad one either.
Record: 21-13 (11-8 in Big Ten)
Michigan State finishes second in our final power rankings after having a strong finish to the year, including being the lone Big Ten team to reach the Sweet 16. Entering the year, many would have been satisfied with how far the Spartans made it in the NCAA Tournament, but there will certainly be some second-guessing on whether or not they should have reached the Final Four after their region opened up nicely for them.
Record: 29-6 (15-5 in Big Ten)
It may be controversial to some to have Purdue at the top of this list. But one bad night doesn’t cancel out four-plus months of great basketball. Yes, Purdue’s season will probably only be remembered by many for their upset loss to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But this was still the best team in the league all season and they belong at the top of our final power rankings to end the year.
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