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 has less hoops knowledge than most.
In case you have been living under a rock or fighting with Chechen rebels, you know we Iowans decided who the next president is going to be this week. You're welcome. Aside from the occasional BCS appearance, Final Four, or particularly interesting butter sculpture, this is the most press Iowa gets. In honor of that fact, we're dedicating this week's Big Ten basketball poll to the 2008 presidential candidates.
1. Indiana (12-1, 1-0)
This week: 1-0 (W @Iowa 79-76)
Next week: 1/8 @ Michigan, 1/13 vs. Illinois
Indiana is Barack Obama. They're a freshman (or at least led by one) who has been considered a contender all along but wasn't the frontrunner until they showed they could get out of Iowa with a win. They might lack in substance (I still think D.J. White is overrated, and I will not be convinced of his legitimacy until he scores 30, rebounds 20, and finds the treasure trove of Adidas gear hidden by Bobby Knight in the Assembly Hall basement), but they're certainly the most stylish candidate in the field. Knocked for lacking in defense. Remains to be seen whether they will succumb to the pressure of being everyone else's target. They might be a flavor of the month, or they might have just enough to get to the promised land. In any case, they're in first right now.
2. Michigan State (13-1, 1-0)
This week: 1-0 (W vs. Minn)
Next week: 1/8 vs. Purdue, 1/12 @ Iowa
Michigan State is Hillary Clinton. It seems like they've been here forever,; they've been hardened by past battles, and they have the best brand name in the race. Everyone is back from last year's team, and that lets them run as the "experience" candidate. Iowa's never been good to them, though, and a loss there would certainly take some of the luster off their candidacy. While Drew Neitzel is the face of the proposed administration, fan favorite Tom Izzo is always in the background of the pictures and the back of the voters' minds. Their entire candidacy hinges on convincing us it is 2000 all over again.
3. Wisconsin (12-2, 2-0)
This week: 2-0 (W @ Mich, vs. Iowa)
Next week: 1/10 vs. Illinois
Wisconsin is Mike Huckabee. Landed the one truly shocking win of the season so far (that 12/29 win at Texas). More or less ignored by the national press prior to that win, everyone is now taking notice. Undeniably and unabashedly white and conservative, and adored by conservative white guys for that fact. Occasionally breaks the Caucasian mold (Huckabee playing the bass guitar; Bo Ryan supermanning that ho) to great effect. Supported by Chuck Norris.
4. Ohio State (13-3, 2-0)
This week: 2-0 (W @ Illinois, vs. NW)
Next week: 1/9 vs. Iowa, 1/12 @ Purdue
Ohio State is John Edwards. They almost had enough to pull it off last time, and they're back for another run at it, but they just seem...different. Changed. Not the same guy you knew. A favorite of those with passive interest in the race, but it feels like his own supporters may be preoccupied with someone else. The coach is undeniably firy and a great motivator. Talented and dedicated enough to hang in the race, but might not have the resources to go all the way.
5. Minnesota (10-3, 0-1)
This week: 0-2 (L @ UNLV, @ MSU)
Next week: 1/9 vs. NW, 1/12 @ PSU
Minnesota is Mitt Romney. They say all the right things. They do all the right things. Their coach has an impressive resume. It's hard to look at their performance so far and argue they're not legitimate. And yet, when voters get beyond the haircut and look at the substance, they come to the conclusion this is a fraud. Had an extremely bad week, and needs big wins this week to remain in contention.
6. Purdue (10-4, 1-0)
This week: 1-0 (W vs. Mich)
Next week: 1/8 @ MSU, 1/12 vs. OSU)
Purdue is Rudy Giuliani. Nobody is really talking about them right now, mostly because they have declined to participate in the early contests. That being said, they're lurking in the background, and it would be a grave mistake to count them out. One-note campaigner, constantly reminding voters they're tough on defense. Unabashedly rocks the combover (Yes, yes, Gene Keady is long gone, but I'm using it anyway).
7. Penn State (10-4, 2-0)
This week: 3-0 (W vs. Lehigh, @ NW, @Illinois)
Next week: 1/12 vs. Minn
Penn State is John McCain. McCain was elected to the Senate in 1986, the same year Geary Claxton entered college.
8. Illinois (8-7, 0-2)
This week: 0-3 (L vs. Tennessee St., OSU, PSU)
Next week: 1/10 @ Wisconsin
Illinois is Fred Thompson. You know them from network television. They're a household name. In fact, it is impossible to confuse them with anyone else in the field. Everyone agrees they have talent. The question is, and has always been, motivation. If they gave it their all - hell, if they gave as much as the other candidates - the results would certainly be better. The campaign has been plagued by outside issues, and there are constant rumors of a staff shakeup. At the end of the day, though, they get to go home to a hot blonde.
9. Iowa (7-8, 0-2)
This week: 0-2 (L vs. Indiana, @ Wisc.)
Next week: 1/9 @ OSU, 1/12 vs. MSU
Iowa is Joe Biden. They're universally acknowledged as tough on defense, and their coach is well respected by the other candidates. But nobody knows who the hell these guys are, and they can't score any points. There's no doubting their heart, but they're completely outmanned by a field loaded with talent.
10. Northwestern (5-6, 0-2)
This week: 0-2 (L vs. PSU, @ OSU)
Next week: 1/9 @ Minn., 1/12 vs. Mich.)
Northwestern is Dennis Kucinich. Despite the fact they have no chance of winning, they show up every year. Nobody questions their intelligence, but when they tell you they've seen a UFO, you know they aren't kidding. Undersized. Last names are difficult to spell. Supporters are totally into World of Warcraft. They also get to go home to a beautiful wife, though nobody understands why she would ever get with them. Must be the money.
11. Michigan (4-10, 0-2)
This week: 0-2 (L vs. Wisc., @ Purdue)
Next week: 1/8 vs. IU, 1/12 @ NW
Michigan is Mike Gravel. Prominent in the 80's. Nobody knows they're in the race, and their numbers prove it. Basically here only for comic relief. Prone to making ridiculous, self-aggrandizing YouTube music videos (here and here). Their brilliance is undeniable.