Big Ten Basketball Synopsis

A Quick Rant On The Big Ten

2/29/12 in NCAABB   |   msylvan10   |   20 respect

I told myself my next article would be about the upcoming MLB season. But sometimes in life, things happen and you need to blow off a little steam. I'm actually kicking myself for not writing this article sooner, because I've been thinking it for the last two days, and maybe if I wrote it preemptively people would be referring to me as some sort of college basketball guru.

So yesterday I'm watching a couple mediocre Big 12 matchups on ESPN's coverage of "Big Monday." To get me hyped up for the coming attractions, they keep showing previews of the "Super Tuesday" monster showdown between Michigan State and Indiana. As I'm trying to decide whether I'd rather sit through another premier Big Ten matchup, or watch paint dry on the side of a building, something catches my attention. "Watch the Spartans as they march towards a number 1 seed in the NCAA tourney." I immediately did a double-take. You're joking, right? Michigan State? A number one seed?

This is the same Michigan State team that was unranked as they got beaten handily by North Carolina in the Carrier Classic season opener. Throughout the game, the broadcasters were referring to the Spartans as being in "rebuilding mode", and even Tom Izzo admitted in an in-game interview that the team didn't have the same talent as in years past. Word to the wise: when a Hall of Fame coach is writing his team off one game into the season, they're probably not that good. Which leads us to Tuesday night, when yet another "elite" Big Ten team failed to live up to its billing. In all honesty, part of me wishes Michigan St. had somehow run the table, just so we could have had this debate: has there ever been a worse number 1 seed in the history of the NCAA tournament than the 2011-2012 Spartans? For me, the answer would have been an unequivocal "no".

I've realized that I am partially to blame for the unnecessary hype surrounding Big Ten basketball. In my article last week previewing this year's March Madness, I made the claim that Ohio St. is complete garbage. Of course, my assertion was completely validated when the Buckeyes somehow managed to lose to Wisconsin at home on Sunday. Yes, you heard that right. WISCONSIN. Have you ever looked at Wisconsin's basketball team, let alone watched them play a game? I honestly don't know if I could tell the difference between the Wisconsin Badgers and my high school JV team if they were standing in a room together.

Now I know what you must be thinking. "This guy is a total genius. How could he predict something like that?" But please, don't give me too much credit. Any degenerate on the street with two functioning eyeballs could tell you that Ohio State is a terrible basketball team. Where I've gone wrong is placing all my disdain for the Big Ten squarely on the Buckeyes' shoulders. Just as with any team sport, basketball is a group effort, and therefore the blame for the mediocrity that pervades the conference must be spread across all programs. You see, it is not just Ohio State that is garbage. It is all their competition as well. So for this I apologize. From now on, no single team will bear the entirety of my disgust for offensive ineptitude and a lack of athleticism that encompasses an entire region. That is just not fair.   

A man is nothing without his principles. And if there is one thing I possess, it is a steadfast adherence to principles. So I can assure you without any semblance of doubt, that no matter the draw when the brackets are released in less than two weeks, I will not be advancing any Big Ten team past the Sweet Sixteen. That you can count on, and I suggest you keep in mind as well when filling out your own bracket. We can only hope that a team like Long Beach State gets the luxury of a matchup with someone like...Wisconsin. Now that would be fun to watch.








...Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the nationally ranked Wisconsin Badgers Men's Basketball Team! (right)
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2/29/12   |   Scott   |   54140 respect

msylvan10 wrote:
For the record, Mike Wilbon just predicted 4 Big Ten teams in the Elite 8. Wilbon's one of my favorite guys in sports journalism, but I got two words for him:

Ain't happenin'

If he's talking about the Elite 8 in the NIT, he might be on to something.  Otherwise, it's impossible to predict something like that in the NCAA when the matchups haven't been announced

2/29/12   |   msylvan10   |   20 respect

For the record, Mike Wilbon just predicted 4 Big Ten teams in the Elite 8. Wilbon's one of my favorite guys in sports journalism, but I got two words for him:

Ain't happenin'

2/29/12   |   Scott   |   54140 respect

msylvan10 wrote:
If you'll refer to my previous comment, I believe I have already agreed with most of the points you make. I said that I don't believe the ACC is a particularly good conference this year, and I also explicitly stated that I don't think Carolina has warranted themselves a #1 seed with their play THUS FAR - the words "thus far" referring to the fact that if they beat Duke on Saturday, and then win the ACC tournament, they will have earned a 1 seed. And I agree that the final #1 seed is Duke's to lose. My point was that before Michigan State lost yesterday, neither ESPN analysts nor Joe Lunardi, Expert Bracketologist, agreed with that statement. The argument I was making was not about North Carolina, whatsoever. I simply used the Tar Heels to prove a point. The fact that Michigan State had one additional loss (now two more), a head to head defeat against Carolina, and is generally just considered not as talented a basketball team by the majority of the public, yet somehow still would have been the 1 seed in the tournament over both Duke and UNC, demonstrates that the Big Ten is overrated. Which was the larger argument I was trying to make. I agree with you that Tom Izzo (and to a lesser extent Bo Ryan), are tough to bet against come tournament time based on their history of success. But that has nothing to do with whether the Big Ten is overrated as a conference, or whether Michigan State had warranted itself a number 1 seed before yesterday's loss. I was simply judging the quality of play I've seen on the court, history aside.

I think it demonstrates more that most "experts" feel that Michigan State's overall body of work, in a tougher conference, is better then anything Duke and North Carolina have done so far.  That has nothing to do with the quality of play on the court, how dominating you are or how much talent you have.  That has to do with who you play, where you play and whether you win or lose.

2/29/12   |   msylvan10   |   20 respect

If you'll refer to my previous comment, I believe I have already agreed with most of the points you make. I said that I don't believe the ACC is a particularly good conference this year, and I also explicitly stated that I don't think Carolina has warranted themselves a #1 seed with their play THUS FAR - the words "thus far" referring to the fact that if they beat Duke on Saturday, and then win the ACC tournament, they will have earned a 1 seed. And I agree that the final #1 seed is Duke's to lose. My point was that before Michigan State lost yesterday, neither ESPN analysts nor Joe Lunardi, Expert Bracketologist, agreed with that statement. The argument I was making was not about North Carolina, whatsoever. I simply used the Tar Heels to prove a point. The fact that Michigan State had one additional loss (now two more), a head to head defeat against Carolina, and is generally just considered not as talented a basketball team by the majority of the public, yet somehow still would have been the 1 seed in the tournament over both Duke and UNC, demonstrates that the Big Ten is overrated. Which was the larger argument I was trying to make. I agree with you that Tom Izzo (and to a lesser extent Bo Ryan), are tough to bet against come tournament time based on their history of success. But that has nothing to do with whether the Big Ten is overrated as a conference, or whether Michigan State had warranted itself a number 1 seed before yesterday's loss. I was simply judging the quality of play I've seen on the court, history aside.

2/29/12   |   Scott   |   54140 respect

msylvan10 wrote:
First of all, I apologize if I offended anyone by writing this article. Look, I wrote the article as a rant, so I chose not to include any sort of objective evidence. Obviously I use a lot of hyperbole, but my point was not that there are no decent teams in the Big Ten, but rather that the Big Ten is not nearly as good as they are given credit for. Now granted I did write that article before Wisconsin's 52-45 thriller at home over Minnesota yesterday, but nevertheless I stand by my fundamental argument. I actually watched the entirety of that first Wisconsin/Minnesota matchup a few weeks ago (because I had money on the Badgers -1). If I'm not mistaken, the game went into OT after the Badgers managed to score something like 1 field goal in the final 5 minutes. More importantly though, was the way their offense was run down the stretch. Jordan Taylor, who preseason was considered one of the elite players in the country, was literally unable to dribble the ball inside the 3-point line. Eventually Wisconsin would have to consistently settle for an outside shot from one of their uncoordinated big men, who could be considered streaky shooters at best. Look, I get that when you slow down the game and play a "grind-it-out" style of basketball, you're going to play close games and not get blown out very much. (For the record, while the Badgers did dictate the tempo for much of the game against Carolina, I still considered that game a fairly comfortable win). But what I've seen is more than just a "style" of basketball - it's offensive incompetence. Whatever you may think, the bottom line is you need to score points to win in basketball. I'm just saying that if Wisconsin doesn't get hot from behind the arc, they are going to have trouble winning games, and unfortunately I don't think they're a particularly great shooting team (a la Mizzou or Duke). As for the Big Ten beating up on the ACC in the Big Ten/ACC challenge, that's fine, I never tried to make the claim that the ACC is a great conference this year (I think college basketball is down as a whole - Michigan St. being a potential number one seed is a great illustration of this point). Now, I'm not saying that Carolina has warranted themselves a number 1 seed with their play THUS FAR, but the fact of the matter is that if a 5-loss Spartans team were to have been selected as a no. 1 seed over a 4-loss UNC team with a head to head win, and who is also clearly much, much, much more talented, it would have been a travesty for the game. The initial point I wanted to make when I began the article, before I got sidetracked, was that a number 1 seed should be dominant. And Michigan St., nor any other Big Ten team in my opinion, fits that description. If someone were to force me to pick a Big Ten team that I thought had some potential in the tourney, it would be Indiana (and would have been before yesterday too) because of that win over Kentucky and that I think Cody Zeller is actually really good. Michigan would be a close second. Anyways, again I apologize if I offended anyone and obviously some of my comments were slightly exagerrated.

So basically, you are upset because some ESPN announcers have Michigan State over your Tar Heels as a possible #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.  Personally, I dont think North Carolina has done enough either to warrant being in the conversation as a #1 seed.  Sure, they beat Wisky and Michigan State but by your own accord, those wins are meaningless because the Big Ten is a garbage league.  Last time I checked, the ACC really is nothing to be proud of.  You have two great teams.. UNC and Duke... two good teams... Florida State and Virginia... and the rest of the league.  Personally, I think that final #1 seed is Duke's to lose, and I thought that even before Michigan State lost last night.  For North Carolina to get their name into the conversation, they need to beat Duke on Saturday night and beat Duke in the ACC tourney title game.  As for Michigan State, I've learned a long time ago never to count out a Tom Izzo coached team come tournament time.  They may not be the most talented team in the country but that hasnt stopped them before from ending up in the Final Four

2/29/12   |   derms33   |   17649 respect

I have a quicker rant....The Big Ten is overrated.....NUFF SAID

2/29/12   |   erikbrattset   |   5 respect

msylvan10 wrote:
First of all, I apologize if I offended anyone by writing this article. Look, I wrote the article as a rant, so I chose not to include any sort of objective evidence. Obviously I use a lot of hyperbole, but my point was not that there are no decent teams in the Big Ten, but rather that the Big Ten is not nearly as good as they are given credit for. Now granted I did write that article before Wisconsin's 52-45 thriller at home over Minnesota yesterday, but nevertheless I stand by my fundamental argument. I actually watched the entirety of that first Wisconsin/Minnesota matchup a few weeks ago (because I had money on the Badgers -1). If I'm not mistaken, the game went into OT after the Badgers managed to score something like 1 field goal in the final 5 minutes. More importantly though, was the way their offense was run down the stretch. Jordan Taylor, who preseason was considered one of the elite players in the country, was literally unable to dribble the ball inside the 3-point line. Eventually Wisconsin would have to consistently settle for an outside shot from one of their uncoordinated big men, who could be considered streaky shooters at best. Look, I get that when you slow down the game and play a "grind-it-out" style of basketball, you're going to play close games and not get blown out very much. (For the record, while the Badgers did dictate the tempo for much of the game against Carolina, I still considered that game a fairly comfortable win). But what I've seen is more than just a "style" of basketball - it's offensive incompetence. Whatever you may think, the bottom line is you need to score points to win in basketball. I'm just saying that if Wisconsin doesn't get hot from behind the arc, they are going to have trouble winning games, and unfortunately I don't think they're a particularly great shooting team (a la Mizzou or Duke). As for the Big Ten beating up on the ACC in the Big Ten/ACC challenge, that's fine, I never tried to make the claim that the ACC is a great conference this year (I think college basketball is down as a whole - Michigan St. being a potential number one seed is a great illustration of this point). Now, I'm not saying that Carolina has warranted themselves a number 1 seed with their play THUS FAR, but the fact of the matter is that if a 5-loss Spartans team were to have been selected as a no. 1 seed over a 4-loss UNC team with a head to head win, and who is also clearly much, much, much more talented, it would have been a travesty for the game. The initial point I wanted to make when I began the article, before I got sidetracked, was that a number 1 seed should be dominant. And Michigan St., nor any other Big Ten team in my opinion, fits that description. If someone were to force me to pick a Big Ten team that I thought had some potential in the tourney, it would be Indiana (and would have been before yesterday too) because of that win over Kentucky and that I think Cody Zeller is actually really good. Michigan would be a close second. Anyways, again I apologize if I offended anyone and obviously some of my comments were slightly exagerrated.

Did not offend me at all. I enjoyed reading your point of view and def thought u made a few valid points. I will agree that badgers have some of the biggest scoring drouts ive seen in a very long time.  They do however have the potential to get extremely hot behind the 3 point line and the best part of their game is defense.  Thanks for the debate!

2/29/12   |   msylvan10   |   20 respect

(Edited by msylvan10)

First of all, I apologize if I offended anyone by writing this article. Look, I wrote the article as a rant, so I chose not to include any sort of objective evidence. Obviously I use a lot of hyperbole, but my point was not that there are no decent teams in the Big Ten, but rather that the Big Ten is not nearly as good as they are given credit for. Now granted I did write that article before Wisconsin's 52-45 thriller at home over Minnesota yesterday, but nevertheless I stand by my fundamental argument. I actually watched the entirety of that first Wisconsin/Minnesota matchup a few weeks ago (because I had money on the Badgers -1). If I'm not mistaken, the game went into OT after the Badgers managed to score something like 1 field goal in the final 5 minutes. More importantly though, was the way their offense was run down the stretch. Jordan Taylor, who preseason was considered one of the elite players in the country, was literally unable to dribble the ball inside the 3-point line. Eventually Wisconsin would have to consistently settle for an outside shot from one of their uncoordinated big men, who could be considered streaky shooters at best. Look, I get that when you slow down the game and play a "grind-it-out" style of basketball, you're going to play close games and not get blown out very much. (For the record, while the Badgers did dictate the tempo for much of the game against Carolina, I still considered that game a fairly comfortable win). But what I've seen is more than just a "style" of basketball - it's offensive incompetence. Whatever you may think, the bottom line is you need to score points to win in basketball. I'm just saying that if Wisconsin doesn't get hot from behind the arc, they are going to have trouble winning games, and unfortunately I don't think they're a particularly great shooting team (a la Mizzou or Duke). As for the Big Ten beating up on the ACC in the Big Ten/ACC challenge, that's fine, I never tried to make the claim that the ACC is a great conference this year (I think college basketball is down as a whole - Michigan St. being a potential number one seed is a great illustration of this point). Now, I'm not saying that Carolina has warranted themselves a number 1 seed with their play THUS FAR, but the fact of the matter is that if a 5-loss Spartans team were to have been selected as a no. 1 seed over a 4-loss UNC team with a head to head win, and who is also clearly much, much, much more talented, it would have been a travesty for the game. The initial point I wanted to make when I began the article, before I got sidetracked, was that a number 1 seed should be dominant. And Michigan St., nor any other Big Ten team in my opinion, fits that description. If someone were to force me to pick a Big Ten team that I thought had some potential in the tourney, it would be Indiana (and would have been before yesterday too) because of that win over Kentucky and that I think Cody Zeller is actually really good. Michigan would be a close second. Anyways, again I apologize if I offended anyone and obviously some of my comments were slightly exagerrated.

2/29/12   |   Scott   |   54140 respect

And yet this garbage of a Big Ten conferences is #1 in RPI, has 5 teams ranked in the top 25 AND once again forced ESPN to acknowledge that your beloved ACC isn't as tough as they want by beating them in their annual challenge.  Yeah, they really suck.

2/29/12   |   erikbrattset   |   5 respect

(Edited by erikbrattset)

I read this whole article as a Badger fan so I'm obviously bias but you are not even close to the college basketball analyst you think you are. These big ten teams that apparently lose to so called terrible opponents who are losing because of the competition in the division. Just because the big ten plays at a slower pace then other conferences doesn't mean that they are inferior teams.  In fact it usually means the opposite when we get to the tournament and slow teams down to a pace they aren't used to and advance.  It's funny seeing that you are a UNC fan seeing as you should remember the begining of the season when you almost got beat by the badgers on your home court.  And yes a win is a win and i understand the badgers lost but its pretty embarsing that a Power House like UNC almost got beat in their own house by a "highschool JV team" don't you think? ;) Oh and if were gonna go comparing losses, then UNC beat the badgers by 3 right after losing to UNLV by 10.  Wait didn't the badgers beat UNLV just a few weeks later? That's right they did! And by 11. That's more than UNC lost by. Lets just take a look at the number one team in the country.  It's not a debate that it's Kentucky by far.  I mean how could it be when they only have one lost.  I believe that was Indiana , a big ten team that somehow lost to the badgers, michigan st, and ohio st.  It's sad that you overlook teams like the badgers and other big ten teams because it's not the style your used to and you get bored. Just because teams lose more in their conference doesn't automatically mean that they are weak.  It means they actually play some competition.  Well I sincerely hope you enjoy looking at your red marked filled bracket as big ten teams bore their way through wins.  Good luck! :)