Parity is alive and well in college basketball, and let’s be honest, that is why we love the game so much. Despite all the analytics and prognostication, once that orange ball is tipped, anything can happen. This can lead to some shocking results that would never happen in any other sport. For example, Winthrop would never beat Illinois in football. The Illini’s athletes would be too much to overcome...and Winthrop doesn’t actually have a football team.
You get my point, college basketball is impossible to predict and scores in recent years have only become more erratic. The Big Ten saw some pretty shocking results this week, and unfortunately they were almost all “bad losses” by our teams. These losses fell into two categories: close losses to mid and/or low-majors, and blowout losses to Power 5 teams. The losses and close wins from this past week have managed to discredit nearly every perceived Big Ten title contender. Let’s take a look at our currently ranked teams (and Maryland) and discuss how bad their week has gone and the potential implications. We will start with the team that has had the best week since last Friday:
The Boilermakers avoided certain disaster against Georgia State by going on a 20-0 to end their home game against the Panthers. It looked like every bad loss Matt Painter has had in the last few years. GSU collapsed on Purdue’s bigs when they touched the ball and the guards were not hitting enough shots to make up for it. Later in the week, Purdue did finally get their shooters going and dominated the Cancun Challenge, beating Utah State by 21 and Auburn by 25. This Purdue team has its flaws, and we will have to see how they fair against Louisville before we really know anything about these Boilers.
I think the Boilers are still a Big Ten contender until further notice.
Like the Boilers, the Terrapins didn’t lose any games this week. However, they had two very close calls against teams they should have beaten easily. Even though Richmond is a middling-Atlantic 10 team, I’m not surprised they gave Maryland a run, but needing OT to beat them does not inspire much confidence in the Terps chances at a Big Ten title run. Additionally, I’d like the Towson win to Purdue’s Georgia State win. Good teams win games when they have off nights, but that was troubling.
In the end, Maryland still has the talent to be a Big Ten contender, but I’m worried the cohesion isn’t there.
They are who I thought they were, but I am not going to let them off the hook. This a very good Wisconsin team, but their trip to Maui showed us they are not elite. Last week, I predicted that the Badgers would make it to the title game and then get blown out by North Carolina. Well, it happened and Wisconsin fans should be a bit worried by that.
Still a Big Ten contender, but they are not a top ten team in the country right now. I’m not sure any Big Ten team is.
The Wolverines had been looking great, better than their fans could have hoped. Then they came crashing back to earth with a bad road loss to Frank Martin and South Carolina. Michigan is a team designed to hit outside shots, and when those aren’t falling they are going to look pretty bad.
I think Michigan is more of a Big Ten chaos team than a true contender, but I’ve been wrong before.
Look, losing to Fort Wayne (or IPFW as they will always be known to me) is bad. It is worse than losing on the road to South Carolina, but it is indicative of what Tom Crean’s teams have always been. Recent IU teams have a penchant for losing to teams they have no business losing to and then figuring themselves out later in the year and being a title contender. I think this loss proves that this IU team is no better than last year’s, but they don’t have to be to be a Big Ten contender.
Much like Wisconsin, IU is likely not an elite team in the country, but they are definitely still a top contender in the Big Ten.
Oh Tom Izzo, don’t apologize for such a hard schedule, that is what make Michigan State, Michigan State. The draw to FGCU was bad (I’m calling it a draw because MSU definitely didn’t win that game). The loss to Baylor was also bad, and so was letting Wichita State back into a game the Spartans had under control. Right now, this team has 0 consistency and they seem a bit rudderless. Who is the leader of this team? Is their one?
I’m not sure this team should be considered a Big Ten contender anymore. Izzo will get them to be a dangerous team by March, but they might lose too many in January to win the conference.
Random Big Ten/ACC Thoughts:
- I think we should expect a tie because that is just how the match-ups seem to work out.
- The strength of the Big Ten this year in the challenge will be the mid-tier and lower-tier teams.
- It seems kind of unfair that the ACC always chooses one of their worst teams to sit out.
- I think Purdue’s winning streak in the challenge comes to an end...in overtime...with some controversy.
- We automatically are better than the ACC because our programs are cleaner and we didn’t compromise our academics to add Louisville.
- Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim should no longer be employed and it is embarassing to college basketball that they are allowed to continue to coach.
- Pitino knew.
- Best Game: North Carolina @ Indiana
- Second Best Game: Too many to choose from, let’s just say Iowa @ Notre Dame because that seem like an unconventional pick.
- Rutgers has played well, but they will get a big wake-up call against Miami.
- Seriously, Rick Pitino should have been fired.
- Richard Pitino too, but that is because he is bad at coaching.
- The Gavitt Games will never be as good as the Big Ten/ACC Challenge until they start including more teams.
- The Big Ten/ACC Challenge should be a three-day national holiday.
- Non-Big Ten/ACC fun fact: Bryson Scott, who led the upset of IU, has a twin brother, Brenton, who almost led Indiana State to an upset of Iowa State.