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Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings 2020-21: Edition 2

Kofi Cockburn, Illinois

 * Updated through February 8th, 2021

1. Michigan Wolverines (13-1 overall, 8-1 conference)

While the rest of the Big Ten continues to beat itself up, Michigan has stayed mostly above the fray, with the lone exception coming in a road loss to Minnesota. A lengthy COVID postponement has put UM's February schedule completely into wack, but the hope is that the Wolverines will be able to return this upcoming weekend against a sneaky Wisconsin squad.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (16-4 overall, 10-4 conference)

Ohio State may be playing the best basketball in the entire league right now. They have now won eight of their last nine games, with the lone loss being a two-point, last-second loss to Purdue. The offense has always been explosive, but it is the improved play on the defensive end that has really feueld Ohio State's recent hot streak. A manageable slate of games before a huge meeting with Michigan should only continue this recent Buckeye run.

3. Illinois Fighting Illini (13-5 overall, 9-3 conference)

After a relatively disappointing start to their Big Ten season, the dangerous Illinois Fighting Illini also appear to be hitting their stride. Since their 87-81 loss to Ohio State, Illinois has won four consecutive games, which includes victories over Iowa and Wisconsin. The 1-2 punch of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn continues to be overwhelming to opposing foes. Cockburn in particular is playing the best basketball of any big in the conference not named Luka Garza.

4. Iowa Hawkeyes (13-6 overall, 7-5 conference)

I had the Hawkeyes ranked No. 1 atop these rankings during my prior release, but Iowa is enduring a cold stretch. While OSU and Illinois are rising, Iowa has lost four of five. I don't think it's time to panic, as Luka Garza still remains the clear favorite to win the Wooden Award and most of the recent losses have been extremely tight. Head coach Fran McCaffery has to find a more effective way to close out basketball games, or this is probably not even a second weekend NCAA Tournament team.

5. Wisconsin Badgers (14-6 overall, 8-5 conference)

The Badgers continue to be a constant fixture around the 3-5 spots in these rankings, beating everyone you'd expect them too, but not being able to finish off the true "elites". The offense has really struggled to find a punch as of late, and recent struggles from Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers don't help. I still think the veteran experience will be a huge advantage for the Badgers when March finally arrives, but they remain a fringe Top 25 team at this juncture.

6. Purdue Boilermakers (13-7 overall, 8-5 conference)

How can you doubt Matt Painter at this point? Since a mediocre 2-3 start to league play, Purdue has played just about as well as anybody in the Big Ten, winners of six of their last eight. It seems like a new face steps up just about every single game for the Boilermakers. A perfect example? Freshman Brandon Newman coming on and dropping 29 points in Purdue's decimation of Minnesota last week.

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