Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Big 10 Hoops Tires to Carry the Flag for the Conference

The Big-10 has taken its share of knocks over the past couple of years starting with a football conference that doesn’t seem to be able to either count (12 teams) or hire an effective marketing team (please see Leaders and Legends). Then there was the Penn State scandal before we even to basketball where the big 10 wasn’t mentioned when the top basketball conferences were listed at the beginning of the season. Since then the Big-10 has more than lived up to its name as the top five teams in the conference standings reads similar to the AP top 10 poll. Indiana and Michigan have exchanged views from the top as each has Indiana ruled the top of the mountain early in the year only to have persistent Michigan run them down and hold the spot for a week before a trip to Hoosierland quickly ended their reign. The Hoosiers (#1) join other Big-10 compeers in the top 25 of Michigan (3), Ohio State (10), Michigan State (12), and Minnesota (18). Unfortunately what may come back to haunt the conference come tournament time is fact that they are so stacked at the top that you can count on some of them getting beat up over the last ten games of the season on top of the tournament. If any of the top five schools make it out with only one loss let alone two it will be quite the feat but even one more loss could cost them a top seed as Florida, Duke, Kansas, and Gonzaga are waiting in the wings to move into the bracket and don’t have to run the gauntlet that the remaining B-10 schedule has in store. We expected Ohio State to make a run after their Final Four appearance of last year but Indiana wasn’t expected to be the powerhouse that they turned out to be let alone the best in the nation, Michigan wasn’t supposed to come around for another year, no pundit predicted that Michigan State would already tallying 18 wins, and Minnesota was the media favorite out of the blocks going 16-1 before feeling the strain of the schedule and dropping four straight games. Two weeks ago they would have been the headline of this piece and now sixth place and number 18 seems insulting. Despite all of this season’s success if the conference doesn’t have a few teams make deep runs in the big dance the critics will write off the performances during the regular season and past will be prologue. Until then they will continue their version of “survivor” and whomever is left on the island certainly deserves a regional top billing as for the first time in a long time the football conference can match the Big East, ACC, and SEC punch for punch and will be rewarded line for line on the brackets come selection Sunday.