The last couple years it has been popular to bash the quality and depth of Big Ten basketball. It would be tough to argue otherwise, as they did fail to do well against out of conference competition, unless it was Michigan State playing Texas.
Things have changed in the Big 10. This year the Big 10 could possibly place 6 or even 7 teams into the Tournamnet of 64. However, there continues to be some naysayers out there. Our buddy Jason McIntyre is trying to sway legions of fans and the tournament committee members from the goodness that is Big 10 Basketball.Now we have to extend our gratitude to TBL for making our initial argument as to why the Big 10 will be well represented in the Dance:
Buoyed by some impressive out-of-conference preseason wins (Michigan over Duke and UCLA; Michigan State over Texas; Ohio State over Notre Dame and Miami; Wisconsin over Virginia Teach; Minnesota over Louisville), the Big 10 is the top conference based on strength of schedule, and 2nd in RPI.
We appreciate you for pointing out all of those quality wins for us. Thank you.
Now let’s take a look at the reasons why he thinks that the Big 10 will not get many teams into the tournament.
* Mediocrity (hopefully) will not be rewarded in March: No team that finishes under .500 in league play will be dancing. Can’t find the stat that shows how many teams have made the tourney after finishing under .500 in league play (18 games in the Big 10). Exception: Win the league tournament.
Completely agree that a team that finishes under .500 in league play does not belong in the dance. However, right now there are 5 teams that are above .500 in league play, and one team right at .500. Combine that with their out of solid out of conference W-L record, you are not mediocre. As supported by strong RPI.
* Michigan State and Illinois seem to be the only teams guaranteed of finishing over .500 in the conference. There are six teams hovering in that dangerous middle zone (4-2, 5-3, 5-5, 3-4). Purdue should be good enough to be the third team that makes it.
This is pretty much the exact same argument from before, but just including a little bit more detail. However, to assume that every team is going to play just below .500 the rest of the way is silly. Michigan State already has been tripped up by Northwestern at the Breslin Center this season. They are a beatable team, so who is to say that one of these 4-4 or 4-2 teams don’t upset them as the season goes on and earn themselve another Top 25 RPI win and keep their head above .500. To just assume that everyone in the middle is going to break even or worse the rest of the way is just hating.
* Minnesota is 5-3 and in good shape … but let’s see what happens in the next three: vs. Illinois, at Michigan State, at Ohio State.
Couldn’t be more right, this is where the rubber meets the road for Minnesota. If they win one of these games, which they should, that means they will still be 1 game over .500 in conference, and done with the hardest part of the schedule. Historically, Tubby Smith teams typically improve down the stretch of the season.
* Forget Penn State (5-3). Still has to go on the road to the Michigans, Illinois, Purdue, and Ohio State.
Yeah, just forget about the team that has already knocked off Purdue in conference, and blew out Michigan. There is no way they can go to Ann Arbor and beat the Maize and Blue, or go into Ohio State and beat the young and struggling Buckeyes.
* Wisconsin (3-4) has lost four in a row (three of them coming on the road), and can’t score. They’re going to try the 3-guard offense to revive one of the weakest shooting offenses in the league.
Now this one I kinda agree with him on, now. However, I refuse to shut the book completely on a Bo Ryan team. This may be the year that Wisconsin finally takes a step back. Or, they could get their shit together and go on one final run in conference, or even in the Big 10 Tourney.
* Ohio State (3-4) and has lost three of four on the road. The Buckeyes are probably in good shape though, because they get to host Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois.
I don’t understand the logic here. This is the team I wouldn’t make an argument for. Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois should beat OSU, so that just helps boost those 3 teams chances of making the tournament.
* Had liked what we’d seen from Michigan (4-4), but it hasn’t even been competitive in its last two road games, and the Wolverines still have Purdue and Minnesota twice, plus Michigan State and a trip to Ohio State.
Here is your wild card of the Big 10. When they rain 3s, they are tough to beat. They stretch your defense out, and that allows Manny Harris to penetrate and attack the basket. Michigan gave Duke their only loss of the season, and knocked off UCLA. So again, why do we just assume that they cannot go 5-5 down the stretch of the conference schedule?
The math isn’t making sense to me. If Wisconsin isn’t that good, doesn’t that mean more victories for the teams that hovering around .500? Don’t these teams get to beat up on Indiana, Iowa and for the most part, Northwestern(DOH!!!)? You can’t just assume that Illinois and Michigan State are going to crush everyone the rest of the way when they have already shown vulnerability.
One thing that wasn’t taken into consideration is the at large bids. The Mid-Majors are not going to be represented like they have been in years past. They are not nearly as good this year. This could very well lead to an 8-10 Big 10 team getting into the tournament.
So, who will be the Big 10 participants in March?
1. Michigan State
5. Penn State
but again, don’t go to sleep on Wisconsin.
We love our friend over at The Big Lead, but his Big 10 bashing is getting a little too frequent. Why don’t you take some time and look at the crap that is south of Mason Dixon line (SEC), and west of the Mississippi (Big 12 and Pac 10) before you bash the conference that has played as good as basketball as anyone else in the country.