Roundtable: Who Is The Best In The B1G? MSU, OSU, Wisconsin?

Jamie Sabau

There will be a battle for supremacy in the Big Ten this year, but which team is the best?

As the season rolls on, fans have started to gather a sense of the good, bad, and ugly teams accross the nation and the Big Ten.  At the top of the conference, a few teams have emerged among the elite: Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin.  The issue today for our roundtable is which of these teams is truly the best.  Before we jump into our writers' thoughts, let's take a quick glance at the basic stats for the three teams:


MSU

OSU

Wisconsin

Record

11-1

12-0

12-0

AP Poll

#5

#3

#4

Coaches' Poll

#5

#3

#6

KenPom Overall

#11

#2

#7

KenPom Offense

#27

#62

#19

KenPom Defense

#10

#1

#11

RPI

#16

#11

#1

SOS

#31

#86

#6

Wins Over Top 50

4

4

6

Opponent Winning %

#45

#95

#7

With those stats in mind, let's see who the staff at BTP thinks is the best team among these three in the conference and deserves the top spot:

Thomas Beindit (@tbeindit): First thing first, MSU should immediately be knocked out of this discussion.  Not only have they already lost, but they lost at home to an inconsistent North Carolina team.  Until OSU or Wisconsin falters, they do not deserve to be in this discussion.  This is an interesting discussion because it centers around the most frequent issue in ranking teams: resume vs. performance.  The team with the best resume is clearly Wisconsin.  In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a team with a better resume than Wisconsin this year with wins over Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, and Marquette.  OSU's resume cannot match what the Badgers have accomplished already this year.  My only issue with this is that it's not OSU's fault they haven't beaten more quality teams, they can only play the schedule they have been given.  Both teams are undefeated after all.  KenPom has OSU at #2 and has Wisconsin at #7.  The thing to note here is that KenPom also has OSU as the #1 defense in the nation, more than 3 points above the 2nd place team.  Wisconsin meanwhile is slotted at #11.  We are clearly talking about two very, very good teams, but if you pressured me, I still think OSU is better  The resumes should be mentioned, but it should not be the only factor and OSU has met the challenge when needed.  Ohio, Marquette, Notre Dame, and Maryland were all Top 100 wins and two of them were away from home.  Does that match Wisconsin's success?  No, but failing to beat teams they were not scheduled to face should not be a criticism.  If we were seeding teams, I would pick Wisconsin all day at this moment, but we're debating who is the better team.  Deep down, I truly believe OSU is the better team.

Eric Bieganski (@BTPEric): It depends on if we're looking back at what teams have done already or what they'll do from here. Based on what they've all done, it's hard for me not to pick Wisconsin. I really didn't expect them to get out of their schedule to date unscathed, but they've been playing some really good ball. OSU needed a miracle to escape Notre Dame and their best win is likely Marquette, which Wisconsin also has beaten. MSU gets knocked out for now for the UNC loss and they looked poor against Oakland, but they deserve credit for the best win of the bunch against Kentucky. Based on what they will do, I'll take Ohio State. Their defense is elite and can help them ride out bad shooting nights. Wisconsin has the easiest schedule but their formula for success is too fragile for my liking. If they shoot poorly from deep or lose Kaminsky or Dekker to injury, watch out. MSU has a rough slate and their injury bug scares me. I don't think Matt Costello will be the same this season, mono is a beast of an illness.

Jason Dorow (@jasondorow): Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten right now. They are undefeated and winning almost every game by double digits. Even when down 8 with less than a minute left, the Buckeyes find a way to win. Wisconsin may have played a slightly tougher non-conference schedule, which included a win against #13 Florida, but it's far too early to be talking about "body of work". These teams have only played 12 games. Right now, it's purely what you see on the court. Amir Williams and LaQuinton Ross look like the best big man duo in the conference, and Aaron Craft does it all at the point. Don't sleep on Michigan State though. Gary Harris and Matt Costello are still recovering from injuries, and Adreian Payne and Keith Appling are hungry to keep Izzo's run of senior classes to reach the Final Four alive. OSU is number one now, but a progressively healthy Michigan State team should reclaim their spot at the top.

Drew Hamm (@drewhamm5): Have you ever heard of Texas State-San Marcos? Because I hadn't until I went to look up the strength of schedule rankings for this year and found them at 85, one spot ahead of Ohio State. I then searched for teams ranked by opponents winning percentage and had to scroll even further down the list to find Ohio State, nestled in with UNC-Asheville at 95th. Wisconsin, 6th in SOS and 7th in opponents winning percentage, and Michigan State, 31st and 45th respectively, are both ranked considerably higher than Ohio State yet remain behind the Buckeyes in the polls. Right now, the third best team in the country should have better wins than Notre Dame and Marquette. Ohio State's defense is elite, like Peyton Manning elite not Joe Flacco "elite," and that will keep them in every game this year, but the best team in the B1G right now is Wisconsin, followed closely by Michigan State. It will be exciting to see how this all shakes out by March, because only one thing is certain in the B1G this year: if you want a close shave, use Barbasol.

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