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 Monday by Hawkeye State, who has not yet given up his writers' strike beard.
We here at BHGP have connections. When anything goes down, we're Jim Delaney's first call. When Gene Keady gets sick, we're the fill-in analysts on the Big Ten Network. And, every couple of weeks, the Big Ten Bureau of Miscellaneous Information (the BXIBMI) sends us another bunch of interesting facts about the players and coaches of the Big Ten. Tonight, for the first time, we share those facts with you.
1. Wisconsin (23-4, 13-2) (Previous: #2)
Last week: 2-0 (W @Illinois, @ Ohio State)
Next week: 2/28 vs. Michigan State
The default #1, resulting from an impressive road win at Columbus. I had written this team off two weeks ago. I was wrong. Nevertheless, Wisky still lacks the alpha-male go-to scorer needed at tournament time.
Fun Fact: Bo Ryan's offensive system is derived from the 1982 film That Championship Season, in which Ryan acted as Paul Sorvino's stunt man.
2. Indiana (23-4, 12-2) (Previous: #4)
Last week: 2-0 (W vs. Purdue, @ Northwestern)
Next week: 2/26 vs. Ohio State, 3/2 @ Michigan State
I have no earthly idea what is going on with this team. They're bocotting, they're not boycotting. Armon Bassett is finished, Armon Bassett is scoring 20 per game. Kelvin Sampson is making illegal phone calls, Kelvin Sampson is...still making illegal phone calls.
Some things never change.
Fun Fact: Kelvin Sampson is a huge sci-fi fan. In fact, Sampson was not illegally calling recruits, but was trying to find a way out of The Matrix and accidentally dialed Robbie Hummell.
3. Purdue (21-6, 12-2) (Previous: #1)
Last week: 1-1 (W @ Northwestern, L @ Indiana)
Next week: 2/27 vs. Minnesota, 3/1 vs. Northwestern
I still think this team is the best in the Big Ten, but I can't put them ahead of Indiana in the week when the Boilers lost to them. Such is the Wisconsin-Indiana-Purdue clusterfuck atop the conference. Nevertheless, there is no team I want to see less come conference tournament time, especially now that their underclassmen have been through a season of Big XI road games.
Fun Fact: Former Purdue forward and Naismith Award winner Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson was also known to teammates as "The Mighty Schnauzer" or "The Fleet-a Akita." His many canine-related nicknames originated during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, when Robinson used his superhuman sense of smell to discover a family of 4 trapped in a Carl's Jr., then dragged the family to safety with his teeth. Way to go, Big Dog.
4. Michigan State (22-5, 10-4) (Previous: #3)
Last week: 2-0 (W vs. Penn State, vs. Iowa)
Next week: 2/28 @ Wisconsin, 3/2 vs. Indiana
It's the moment of truth for Sparty, who is 1-2 against the three teams ranked above them, 2-4 on the road in the conference, and has not beaten a +.500 team on the road since December 8. Izzo has always scheduled tough to get his team ready for the end of the season; this week will be the first test of whether it worked with this squad.
5. Minnesota (17-9, 7-7) (Previous: #5)
Last week: 2-0 (W vs. Michigan, vs. Penn State)
Next week: 2/27 @ Purdue, 3/1 vs. Ohio State
This is the end of the road for Minnesota. Two of their final four games are at Purdue and at Indiana (not to mention that home game against OSU). They have yet to beat a team they shouldn't, and their edge in experience has been reduced. Nineteen wins and an NIT berth is the ceiling. Still, that's a good result for a program that had slipped into Bolivian under Dan Monson.
Fun Fact: Minnesota center Spencer Tollackson, a theater major, was "punk'd" by teammates, who told him he was being considered for a Tony after his turn as the title character in Tootsie at the Edina Community Theater. Tollackson was moved to tears, and nobody had the heart to tell him it was a prank.
6. Ohio State (17-10, 8-6) (Previous: #6)
Last week: 0-2 (L @ Michigan, vs. Wisconsin)
Next week: 2/26 @ Indiana, 3/1 @ Minnesota
OSU's record vs. teams ranked lower: 8-2
OSU's record vs. teams ranked higher: 0-4
OSU closes with games at Indiana, vs. Purdue, and vs. Michigan State.
This is going to end badly.
(By the way, I know OSU dropped a game to Michigan this week, yet is still ranked above Big Blue. Michigan's losses are awful. I can't bring myself to move them any higher than #7.)
Fun Fact: Ohio State head coach Thad Matta was the inspiration for the gremlin character in Frank Miller's Sin City.
7. Michigan (9-18, 5-10) (Previous: #7)
Last week: 1-1 (L @ Minnesota, W vs. Illinois)
Next week: 2/26 vs. Northwestern, 3/1 @ Penn State
Just another sign of how strange this season has been: Michigan loses 9 of their first 10 conference games and looks like the worst team in the history of the world not named Northwestern. Suddenly - and shockingly - they flip the switch, winning 4 of 5. I honestly have no idea what's going on anymore.
Fun Fact: Former Michigan football coach Fielding Yost is credited with the invention of the linebacker, the alley oop, the hooded sweatshirt, the compact disc, and human growth hormone. He also has a songwriting credit for his contribution to Nas' Illmatic; Yost co-wrote "Memory Lane (Sittin' in the Park)".
8. Iowa (12-16, 5-10) (Previous: #8)
Last week: 1-1 (W vs. Northwestern, L @ Michigan State)
Next week: 2/27 @ Penn State, 3/1 vs. Illinois
Two weeks ago, things were looking up. Then there was that hideous loss to Michigan and a lackluster performance against Northwestern. It hit a new low when Iowa was outscored 20-1 in the first 10 minutes at East Lansing. You read that right.
And then, we witnessed a miracle. Iowa started hitting shots. They beat Michigan State on the glass. Cyrus Tate took over, scoring 26 and making Naymick his own personal hand puppet. Iowa closed within 16, then 15, then 14. When the final buzzer sounded, we hugged strangers. We popped the corks off bottles of champagne. We rejoiced at the wonder of it all. Our beloved Hawkeyes, 15 1/2 point underdogs, had beaten the spread.
Fun Fact: Kurt Looby owns a pet barracuda and speaks with a Yorkshire accent.
9. Penn State (12-14, 4-10) (Previous: #10)
Last week: 0-2 (L @ Michigan State, @ Minnesota)
Next week: 2/27 vs. Iowa, 3/1 vs. Michigan
PSU won both games against Illinois. They get the #9 spot. As if you care.
Fun Fact: Ed DeChellis's Italian last name translates to "Ed of person who plays the cello."
10. Illinois (11-17, 3-12) (Previous: #9)
Last week: 0-2 (L vs. Wisconsin, @ Michigan)
Next week: 3/1 @ Iowa
I'm going to the Iowa/Illinois pillow fight this weekend. If you're suffering from insomnia, I suggest you tune in.
Fun Fact: Illinois coach Bruce Weber suffers from Van Deeterhein's Syndrome, a rare degenerative condition in which the jaw muscles atrophy so that the mouth hangs open and the subject continually looks shocked and dumbfounded.
Just like that.
11. Northwestern (7-18, 0-14) (Previous: #11)
Last week: 0-2 (L @ Iowa, vs. Indiana)
Next week: 2/26 @ Michigan, 3/1 @ Purdue
Brave performances against Iowa and Indiana this week, but at this point, moral victories can't be enough to save Bill Carmody's job.
Fun Fact: Northwestern has given you JA Adande, Mike Greenberg, Kevin Blackistone, and every other person screaming in the hopes of getting "points" from a glorified frat boy on the Worldwide Leader every afternoon. This fact alone makes the state of their basketball program feel justified.