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Big Ten Basketball Preview for Big Ten Football Fans

Your school probably isn’t making it to the Playoff, but maybe they can make it to the Big Dance

A Big Ten football fan wonders how he found himself on this strange hardwood floor
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

My name is Andrew Michael H, and the H stands for Hello There.

Hello there.

I’m a new writer here on the site, and the BT Powerhouse Powers That Be (or “BTP-PTB”) have given me permission to write a weekly article that highlights the lighter side of the Big Ten conference.

And for you football fans, no, “the lighter side” does not refer to the Big Ten West.

For the first installment of my weekly column, I decided I’d also like to introduce you readers to some of the other writers here at BTP. The guys below have the honorable distinction of being the ones who responded to my request for responses for this article, so they are obviously the most talented and handsomest people we have on staff. They are:

  • Drew Langan, Illinois fan
  • Eddie Herz, Wisconsin fan
  • Josh Stern, Michigan fan
  • Nolan Schmidt, Minnesota fan
  • Robert Bondy, Michigan State fan
  • And as I said, I’m Andrew Michael Hello There, and I’m a Purdue fan

OK, enough introductions. Let’s dive right in.

There are lots of Big Ten fans (hello, Michigan, Ohio State, and Nebraska readers!) who prefer football and don’t pay much attention to that weird sport with the round, orange ball. I was born and raised in Indiana, so to me your strange devotion to football reminds me of nothing so much as druids and their strange devotion to trees, but I’m told that you are mostly good (if misguided) people, so here is a guide to Big Ten basketball that puts things in terms you can understand.

I asked each of our writers four questions. Their responses are below.

Compare and Contrast Your Football and Basketball Programs

  • Drew: Both Illini programs are rebuilding but basketball is ahead of football, as it has been historically.
  • Eddie: The Wisconsin programs closely resemble each other. Sometimes under the radar, but consistently ranked and always make the postseason. Both focus on fundamentals and aren’t very flashy. Neither team lands a huge-name recruit very often. Instead, they mold less hyped up players into the Wisconsin system, eventually turning them into impact players.
  • Josh: Michigan's basketball program is the team that consistently gets overlooked. The football program, on the other hand, has lofty expectations every season, even when the team probably isn't going to be that good. Michigan's football traditional causes an egregious amount of hype every year, while the basketball team flies consistently under the radar until March.
  • Nolan: Whereas the Gopher football program is still developing and implementing a culture under P.J. Fleck, the basketball program already has an instilled culture with Richard Pitino at the helm. However, they both do show promise with young coaches and an eye for athletes in recruiting
  • Robert: Over the last decade Michigan State has been very successful in both football and basketball. Ever since Tom Izzo took over, basketball has been the top sport at Michigan State, but under Mark Dantonio football has emerged as a constant upper tier program. Last season was a step back for the Spartans on the gridiron but this year has proven that was most likely just a one year dip.
  • Andrew Michael: Purdue football is getting back to basketball on grass, whereas Purdue basketball recently has emphasized big guys and running. I think we have things backwards, guys.

Which Other Big Ten Football Program Most Closely Resembles Your Basketball Program

  • Drew: I would say Nebraska football (once they fire Riley)
  • Eddie: I’d have to say Michigan State. Though they focus more on recruiting big-name guys than the Badgers do, the Spartans always find a way to be ranked and in a bowl game/NCAA Tournament.
  • Josh: Michigan's basketball program is Michigan State's football program, and vice versa. The Spartans football team and produced very solid results the last 7-10 years, but the basketball program always overshadows it. The exact opposite is true in Ann Arbor.
  • Nolan: Michigan. It's odd grouping Minnesota and Michigan together, but for the purpose of the question, I understand. Michigan is a hard-nosed, defensive minded team that features potent offensive weapons as well, primarily in the backfield. Minnesota's "backfield" is stacked as well with Nate Mason and Amir Coffey leading the way. The defensive presence of Reggie Lynch embodies a spirit of fortification, much like the Wolverines do on the girdiron.
  • Robert: Michigan State has been the class of the Big Ten for a long time in basketball so the football program that most closely resembles the Spartans in football is Ohio State. Both are always a team that people respect each and every year, and will always be excited to play. Both also have always been in contention for a conference title over the past 15-20 years. [Editor’s note: response was given prior to Ohio State’s drubbing at the hands of Iowa]
  • Andrew Michael: Iowa. They’re black, they’re gold, and they put together solid regular season campaigns most years but do nothing to get national attention in the postseason.

Who Would Win In A Fistfight Between Your Football And Your Basketball Coach

  • Drew: Both of our coaches are big guys, I'll go with Brad Underwood because he's 6 years younger.
  • Eddie: Even though Gard is five years younger and seemingly in a little better shape than Chryst, I’d have to say that Paul would come out on top. He’s got some significant pounds on Greg and would outlast him with a quick left hook as a finishing blow.
  • Josh: Jim Harbaugh would destroy John Beilein in a fistfight. Harbaugh would interpret it as a battle to the death, while Beilein would rather give Harbaugh a hug rather than punch the coach. [Editor’s note: Ain’t that the truth]
  • Nolan: Richard Pitino seems like he would fight dirty, given his last name (that might be in bad taste, I know), but P.J. Fleck seems like a Rocky Balboa type fighter. He'll just keep getting up and keep getting madder and madder in the process. I'll take Fleck.
  • Robert: This a tough question if you ask me. I think Coach D has a little bit more in size that would help but Izzo seems like a really fiesty guy. I think it would be a hell of a fight and could end as a draw.
  • Andrew Michael: Brohm would distract Painter with doughnuts while Nick Holt came from behind and bashed him with a chair.

Would You Rather See Your Team In The Rose Bowl Or The Final Four

  • Drew: I’d much rather see the Illini make it back to the Final Four.
  • Eddie: That’s a tough one. I’ve seen my Badgers make the Rose Bowl three years in a row and lose each time in my lifetime. I’ve also recently seen the Badgers make back-to-back Final Fours. I’m going to have to go with Final Four though. This is only because making the Final Four presents the opportunity to win a National Championship, which the Badgers were so close to doing in 2014 and 2015. Though the Rose Bowl is a big deal, winning it doesn’t result in a National Championship.
  • Josh: Final Four, always.
  • Nolan: Final Four, but that is a terribly difficult question.
  • Robert: The Rose Bowl is something that Michigan State fans have chased for so long and they finally got there in 2013. Once you get a taste I think you only want it more. So the Rose Bowl would be my response, but that is mainly because Michigan State has been to the Final Four so many times under Izzo. If we are talking a National Championship in basketball or Rose Bowl in football, then I'm taking a National Championship.
  • Andrew Michael: Purdue hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl since 2000, and we haven’t been to the Final Four. But there’s an even bigger accomplishment than those two, and the drought for that one has lasted since 1972. We’re not a football school or even a basketball school. We’re an astronaut school. I choose moon landing.

Those of you who are fans of other schools, please leave your responses in the comments below.