The Big Ten Bloggers Basketball Poll is a labor of love supervised by Gopher Nation, voted on by a variety of bloggers with varying degrees of hoops knowledge, and brought to you every Sunday by Hawkeye State, who spent the day watching football
The Gunslinger bites the bullet.
I'm going to tell you the truth: I didn't watch too much basketball this weekend. I was away from my beloved Big Ten Network for most of the week, though I did catch Iowa/Michigan Saturday. There was some relatively decent NFL on today (perhaps you caught some of the 9 hours of pregame coverage).* In any case, you're going to have to deal with a straightforward poll for a week. I'll hopefully be back to normal next week.
1. Indiana (16-1, 5-0) (Previous: #1)
Last week: 2-0 (W @ Minn., vs. PSU)
Next week: 1/23 vs. Iowa, 1/26 vs. UConn
You know how good Indiana is? Their rivals are already retreating to the "your coach is a cheater" tactic, which is basically an admission of defeat. Eric Gordon is ridiculous, and they might be the deepest team in the conference. I'm not predicting an undefeated Big Ten season (they still have to go to Wisky and MSU), but I don't see anyone knocking them out of the #1 spot anytime soon.
Of course, their coach is a cheater.
2. Wisconsin (15-2, 5-0) (Previous: #2)
Last week: 2-0 (W @ PSU, vs. NW)
Next week: 1/22 vs. Mich., 1/26 @ Purdue
January 31. Indiana/Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. That's high noon. That's judgment day. That's the apocalypse. (Yes, I'm just coming up with all the possible names ESPN might use to describe that day.) There will be blood, my friends. Oh yes, there will be blood.
3. Michigan State (16-2, 4-1) (Previous: #5)
Last week: 2-0 (W vs. OSU, @ Minn.)
Next week: 1/24 @ NW, 1/27 vs. Mich.
Two big wins this week for Sparty, but am I the only one completely underwhelmed with this team? Last season, they were done in by turnovers (14.9 per game) and a lack of an inside presence. This season, they turn the ball over (14.6 per game) and still lack an inside presence (unless you're willing to count Raymar Morgan, and I'm not).
Look, they've played the toughest schedule in the conference, and they only lost to UCLA and [cough] Iowa. They beat Texas. They beat BYU on the road. They killed NC State. Still, you can't forget those turnovers. I don't see this ending well.
4. Purdue (13-5, 4-1) (Previous: #6)
Last week: 2-0 (W @ Iowa, vs. Ill.)
Next week: 1/23 @ PSU, 1/26 vs. Wisky
On the other hand, watch out for Boiler Up. They're not pretty. They don't showboat. They just keep grinding out win after win. The victory at Carver Hawkeye was impressive (say what you will about this Iowa team, but they always play tough at home -- just ask MSU), more for the process than anything else. Iowa took a 4-point lead with 11:30 to play, the crowd on its feet, and all the momentum in the world. Purdue could have folded like a fajita, and nobody would have held that against them. Instead, they methodically dismantled Iowa for the last 10 minutes, taking the lead and then extending it for the rest of the half.
I'm not saying they'll win the whole thing, but keep an eye on Purdue. Saturday's game vs. Wisconsin might be the most important game in the conference this week.
5. Ohio State (12-6, 3-2) (Previous: #4)
Last week: 0-2 (L @ MSU, @ Tennessee)
Next week: 1/22 vs. Ill., 1/26 vs. Minn.
They played two tough road games this week, and they kept both close, but they desperately needed one of those two to make their case. Classic bubble team come March, and I don't think they have the guns to sneak into the tournament. Still, they kicked our asses, so what do I know?
6. Minnesota (12-5, 2-3) (Previous: #3)
Last week: 0-2 (L vs. IU, vs. MSU)
Next week: 1/26 @ OSU
That is all.
7. Iowa (9-10, 2-4) (Previous: #8)
Last week: 1-1 (L vs. Purdue, W @ Mich.)
Next week: 1/23 @ Ind., 1/26 vs. PSU
"What is it doing?"
There's no denying this team is improving. I know it's only Michigan, but could you imagine this team beating anyone in the conference on the road this season? Michigan State was undeniably great, but the win at Michigan might be more important for a team that has struggled epically away from Carver Hawkeye Arena.
(By the way, can't you imagine Lickliter saying, "Learn, goddamnit!" to Seth Gorney?)
8. Penn State (10-7, 2-3) (Previous: #7)
Last week: 0-2 (L vs. Wisky, @ IU)
Next week: 1/23 vs. Purdue, 1/26 @ Iowa
Geary, you may have been in school for 17 years, but you deserved to go out better than that. Godspeed, Emperor.
As for this team, it's like "Weekend at Bernie's 3." No player was more important to his team than Claxton. No Geary, no cheery (OK, that's bad. I admit it.) PSU's season is over. Done. Kaput.
9. Illinois (9-10, 1-5) (Previous: #9)
Last week: 1-1 (W vs. Mich., L @ Purdue)
Next week: 1/22 @ OSU, 1/27 vs. NW
I think that pretty much sums it up. Let's just move on.
10. Michigan (5-13, 1-5) (Previous: #10)
Last week: 0-2 (L @ Illini, vs. Iowa)
Next week: 1/22 @ Wisky, 1/27 @ MSU
When does football season start again?
11. Northwestern (6-9, 0-5) (Previous: #11)
Last week: 1-1 (W @ Chicago St., L @ Wisky)
Next week: 1/24 vs. MSU, 1/27 @ Illini
When does Matheletes start again?
* -- NFL moment here: To the extent I watch NFL football, I am a Vikings fan. Due to that fact, as well as my brother's obsession with Green Bay, I have hatred in my heart for Brett Favre. I haven't jumped on that "I hate him but respect him" bandwagon, either; I genuinely believe he is an egomaniac who strings everyone along at the end of every season just so he can have the spotlight, and he got a free pass on the drugs from a sports media that would crucify anyone else in that situation.
That being said, ol' Favre sure has a tendency to choke on the big stage now, doesn't he? Ever since the famous MNF game after his dad died, where he chucked it deep over and over and brought John Madden to tears, he presses in every nationally-televised game. Yesterday, he was thoroughly outplayed by Eli F'ing Manning. So can we please stop the Favre worship now? Kthxbye.