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1/29 Big Ten Basketball Mailbag: 90s Songs, Northwestern's Luck, And More!

The weekly BTPowerhouse Big Ten mailbag.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, BTP will be taking questions from readers on the hottest topics in the Big Ten and college basketball overall both on and off the court.  You can ask questions by using the hashtag #AskBTP or tweeting at @BTPowerhouse or @tbeindit.  The best questions will be selected on Wednesday night and our staff will respond on Thursday afternoon.

The 1/29 Big Ten Powerhouse Mailbag

Question #1

Well, I'll take the time to respond to the first question in this tweet.  The second question is obvious in that Bo Ryan sold his soul in 2001 so that Wisconsin would never finish worse than 4th in the Big Ten regular season standings.  This has been well documented.

The Bo Ryan question aside, Northwestern's luck is actually a good topic, although it won't be much fun for Wildcat fans.  Overall, Northwestern has started the season at 10-10 overall and 1-6 in Big Ten play.  They have yet to record a victory over a Top 125 team on KenPom and their only conference win was a 4 point win over Rutgers to open conference play in December.  On paper, this looks disastrous, but that's probably not that accurate.

In fact, when you look at their resume, it's not nearly as bad as it looks on first impression.  Outside of a bad performance against Central Michigan in mid-December, the Wildcats have really been pretty competitive overall.  Let's take a look at some important stats regarding Northwestern.

Northwestern's Bad Luck:
  • #267 in KenPom Luck Rating
  • 7 of 10 losses by 10 points or fewer
  • 5 most recent losses by 5 points or less or in OT
  • Favored at some point in 3 of last 5 losses by KenPom in-game odds
  • Wildcats had 94.5% odds to beat Maryland in 2nd Half
  • Rated #2 in conference strength of schedule as of 1/28
  • Have lost to just 1 team rated outside KenPom Top 90

There's no way to break down those stats other than with the word brutal.  Is Northwestern a good team?  No, and in fact, they might not even be mediocre, but they are much better than their 10-10 record indicates right now.  At this point, it probably has to do with a pretty tough opening slate - especially in Big Ten play - , a relatively young roster, and some bad luck.  The good news is that things should get easier going ahead and Northwestern should get some shots at some solid wins.  In short, the suffering of Northwestern fans should at least ease ... slightly.

Question #2

This is a bit of a tricky question, even though it may not appear as such on its face.  The Big Ten Coach of the Year award is one that receives a ton of attention, but is often based more on preseason speculation than anything else.  The vast majority of the time, the award is given to a coach who coaches a team that was perceived to be bad before the season, but ended up playing well during the season.  I don't say this to rip on the award, but to set the table on my thinking here.  For instance, Bo Ryan is not going to be in serious consideration despite the Badgers potentially being the best team in the Big Ten.  It's just how the award works.

With this in mind, I do think you have to narrow it down to 3 coaches as of now.  These coaches are Tom Crean, John Groce, and Mark Turgeon.  By the end of the season, guys like John Beilein and Tim Miles might be in this group as well, but given the accepted, but unofficial criteria, I think you have to settle in on these three guys.

In terms of separating them, I think it's tough right now, but I would lean Tom Crean.  I know there are a lot of people pointing to the fact that many predicted Indiana to improve before the season began, but considering that Crean overcame the off the court issues early in the season and has essentially played without a big man for the last few weeks, I think he has the case right now.  Turgeon has done a great job as well, but I think from the starting lineup down, Maryland just has a lot more to work with right now than Indiana.

Still though, I'm reserving my right to change this decision given the last few weeks of the season.

Question #3

Best question so far.  Unfortunately, I don't have time - or the patience of the readers - to give my opinions on every team, but here are a few of my selections.

Big Ten Teams as 90s Songs
  • Indiana - "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing"
  • Iowa - "Creep"
  • Rutgers - "Come As You Are"
  • Wisconsin - "Can't Touch This"

Here is my reasoning.  Indiana gets Aerosmith here because they're just so watchable this year.  You don't want to miss anything because there might be like six 3 pointers while you were gone.  Iowa gets "Creep" because seriously, what is up with that eye thing?  Rutgers gets Nirvana because we all knew they would have a rough entrance, but Delaney brought them in anyway.  Wisconsin gets "Can't Touch This" because they're so good.

Question #4

This may be one of the recruiting stories that seems to be getting too little discussion.  This isn't necessarily because I think Jaylen Brown will commit to Michigan, but because it has the potential to reshape the outlook of the Big Ten and college basketball next season.  Although Michigan has struggled at points this year, what many don't realize is that the roster is set up very well for the Wolverines to be very good next season.  If they add 5-star small forward Jaylen Brown to their lineup, Michigan could instantly become a Big Ten title contender, especially if Caris LeVert returns.

My comments aside, our last update on Brown can be seen here.  Essentially, Brown opted to reschedule his visit to Ann Arbor.  He was originally scheduled to visit for the team's home game against Wisconsin, but instead will now be visiting on February 21st before Michigan's game against Ohio State in Ann Arbor.  After that, we should get a better feeling of where Michigan stands with Brown.

Question #5

This is pretty simple, isn't it?  Does anybody really like the Big East that much?  I mean, they just split their conference a few years ago.  It's can't be all that great.

But seriously, I think the Big East and Big Ten are both pretty solid conferences this season.  The one edge I would give the Big Ten right now is that I think they are going to develop a lot heading into March and the postseason, but overall, the Big East has performed pretty well.

Of course, the other edge the Big Ten has is that DePaul is in the Big East.