As the Big Ten's non-conference season comes to a close and the holiday season jumps upon us, it seemed like an opportune time to have a little fun with the Big Ten teams. I have taken the liberty of equating each team with a popular Christmas song based on the team we have seen so far this season. Obviously, some Big Ten teams have fared better so far this year and their song is reflective of their performance. Let's take a look at the list:
Illinois - Frosty The Snowman
The Illini started the season off hot before falling in a few difficult games similar to the way Frosty comes into town with the kids and has a great time before he is forced to leave. However, Frosty ultimately promises to return to town, just like the Illini returned last Saturday with a big win over Missouri. Just like Frosty, we cannot be sure how long Illinois will last or how solid they are this season, but they might just have enough magic to do something special.
Indiana - Please Come Home For Christmas
The Hoosiers have made it to the end of December without a marquee win, but have yet to lose a game on the road. All of their difficult opponents were either on a neutral court or on the road. By now, Indiana fans have to be begging someone to come play Indiana in Bloomington, where the Hoosiers are undefeated this season. Just like with the holidays approaching in the song, fans know the marquee home games are coming and hopefully with them, good times like they have known before.
Iowa - Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Whether fans believe it or not, the Hawkeyes are a good team this year. Maybe not an elite team, but this is a quality team that is going to do some damage in Big Ten play. Just like how Santa and the other reindeer would not respect Rudolph, Iowa has not yet received the respect they deserve this season. They are a good team that is rated #13 on KenPom with quality wins on the year. They are going to get their chance to "lead the sleigh" and prove their worth in Big Ten season.
Michigan - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause
Unfortunately for Michigan fans, the Wolverines have underachieved their preseason expectations. Similar to the child in the song that witnesses something he was not intended to see, Michigan fans have witnessed a team that has fallen short of its preseason Top 10 ranking. Maybe Michigan can still rise to an elite level like they did last season, but it is going to take some convincing, just like it will take some convincing to reassure the child that what he had seen was not what he believed to have seen.
Michigan State - The Man With All The Toys
The Spartans are a loaded team. Tom Izzo has a team filled with "toys" at nearly every position. Unfortunately, he has not quite been able to get them working well enough with each other to be truly dominant. The Spartans still only have one loss this season, but for a roster loaded with this much talent and potential, even one loss at this point seems a bit underwhelming. Maybe Izzo can find a way to use his toys properly, or they risk being wasted.
Minnesota - Santa Clause Is Coming To Town
All the talk about the Gophers has revolved around new head coach Richard Pitino. Things have went pretty well for Minnesota and outside of a bad loss to Arkansas, this team has performed pretty well. Just like with Santa Clause's arrival, we cannot know exactly what will come with Pitino's arrival in Minnesota, but we do know that a lot of people are excited about watching what will happen.
Nebraska - What Christmas Means To Me
The Cornhuskers are an interesting team this year. They have improved significantly for the second straight year, but it is unknown whether this will show up on the win column and at the end of the year. Nebraska is probably not going to make the NCAA Tournament and will have a major challenge in making the NIT, but just like interpreting what Christmas means, Cornhusker fans face the challenge of interpreting what improvement means. Does a good season mean being more competitive or does it mean something else?
Northwestern - Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer
This should be pretty self explanatory. Northwestern is a wreck this season. Wildcat fans may disagree and Northwestern has undeniably shown some potential despite their roster, but they are an underwhelming 7-5 that could easily have a losing record right now considering close games against teams like Brown and IUPUI. Expect a fate similar to the one for Grandma in Big Ten play for Northwester. A lot of pain and destruction.
Ohio State - White Christmas
The Buckeyes are not without their flaws, but they have put together a very good 12-0 non-conference run and have set their sights on even greater things later in the year. Just like Bing Crosby was dreaming of a White Christmas, Thad Matta and his team are dreaming of cutting down some nets in March. Whether the media is behind this or not, the Buckeyes are a Top 5 team with several quality wins already this season. They can set their dreams high.
Penn State - Blue Christmas
The Nittany Lions had high hopes coming into this year with their returning depth and the return of Tim Frazier. Things have not gone so swimmingly with 4 losses already on the year including to Princeton. Just like Elvis' search for love and eventual loss, Penn State fans are being forced to come to terms with the fact that their preseason hopes may have been a bit much and that the road will be very tough going forward.
Purdue - It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
The Boilermakers may have had their doubters at the beginning of the year, but through the non-conference slate, they have made a strong case for their potential. Purdue may not be a perfect team, but with a win on the road against West Virginia, the pieces appear to be coming into place, just like when it beings to look like Christmas. We can't be sure how close Purdue is to being very good, but the signs are there.
Wisconsin - Winter Wonderland
Everything is bright in Madison. The Badgers are 12-0 and have faced one of the most challenging slates in the nation. Beating Florida alone would have been impressive, but adding in wins against West Virginia, Marquette, and Virginia simply adds to Wisconsin's achievements. Maybe it is a bit far to call the Kohl Center a "wonderland" right now, but it can't be far off with that kind of resume.