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Big Ten Bloggers Basketball Poll: Indie Rock Edition

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 once traded a Kris Kross album for a Shaquille O'Neal rookie card.

The Shins:  Too good to win a Grammy

The Grammys.  Never has so much time and energy been spent on such a group of no-talent ass clowns.*  Those who vote for the Oscars and Emmys at least take the time to see most of the potential nominees before making their decisions.  Grammy voters, on the other hand, nominate the Billboard Hot 100.  Under their rigorous standards, movies like Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean would be up for best picture, and American Idol would have 6 straight Emmys for best drama.  It is, without question, the most absurd awards show on the planet.

The saddest part is that there has never been a time when it was easier to find good music.  Music blogs like The Great Barstoolio do all the heavy lifting for you.  Metacritic compiles and summarizes music reviews.  Virtually every song and every album is available on eMusic and iTunes.  You can find good music, learn about it, and buy it without leaving your couch.

Or you could listen to Carrie Underwood sing a song she didn't even write.

After the jump, ugly basketball meets pretty music, or something like that.

(keep reading...)

1.  Purdue (19-5, 10-1) (Previous: #1)
Last week:  2-0 (W vs. Penn State, @ Wisconsin)
Next week:  2/12 vs. Michigan State, 2/16 @ Northwestern

Just put yourself in my shoes
And see that I do what I do
Because the old God still offends
They got nothing left on which we depend
So enlist every ounce of your bright blood
And off with their heads

--The Shins, "Sleeping Lessons," Wincing the Night Away

To Purdue, who continues to knock off the old gods of the Big Ten and, in the process, have completely rewritten the narrative of this season.  Remember when there were three top teams, two or three in the middle, and the black hole at the bottom of the conference?  No more.  Remember the role of experience in a Big Ten stretch run?  Forget about it.  Remember the invincibility of Wisconsin at the Kohl Center?  Dead as a Greek poet.  Purdue is athletic, well-coached, and disciplined.  In other words, Purdue is what you expect from a Big Ten champ, and it is increasingly likely that's what we'll be calling them come March.  Bravo, Boilers.

Now, as soon as I say it, they will drop 2 of 3.  I am the kiss of death.  That's just the way this season has gone.

2.  Indiana (20-3, 9-1) (Previous: #3)
Last week:  2-0 (W @ Illinois, @ Ohio State)
Next week:  2/13 vs. Wisconsin, 2/16 vs. Michigan State

I've got to find some shelter
'Cause any minute now it's gonna blow
It's gonna blow

And it looks like we're in for stormy weather
With death and destruction coming through
Oh, look out there she blows
Now everybody knows
Stormy weather always makes me think of you

--Jarvis Cocker, "Heavy Weather," Jarvis

IU's next three are Wisconsin, Michigan State, Purdue.  That's rough.  (This lyric has nothing to do with any possible impending sanctions as a result of NCAA recruiting violations.  Nothing at all.)

That being said, D.J. White is a man!  He's 22!  He's averaging a double-double!  Go after him!  Seriously, Indiana is now winning games with just White and Gordon.  I've been a doubter for years, but he's finally converted me.

3.  Wisconsin (19-4, 9-2) (Previous: #2)
Last week:  1-1 (W @ Iowa, L vs. Purdue)
Next week:  2/13 @ Indiana, 2/16 vs. Minnesota

Went to bed, as the sun rose
Woke up this morning in yesterday's clothes

Outside, looks like rain
Come under the covers, we'll blame it on the trains

--Art Brut, "Blame it on the Trains," It's a Bit Complicated

The first part of that lyric describes every night I've spent in Madison.

The second part?  Um, yeah, about that whole 16-game conference winning streak at the Kohl Center?  Yeah, not so much.

It's entirely too premature for me to say it, but that's not going to stop me:  Is there a ceiling to the Bo Ryan system?  Let's take a look at some of the evidence:

  • 2006-07 -- After starting 26-2, Wisconsin loses 2 of 3 down the stretch to close the regular season.  Then, despite a #2 seed, Badgerland loses to UNLV in the second round.
  • 2005-06 -- Wisconsin jumps out to 15-4 (5-1) before closing with 8 losses in their last 12, including a first-round flameout in the conference tournament and an NCAA beatdown from Lute Olsen.
  • 2004-05 -- Wisconsin loses in the Big Ten tournament final and makes it to the final 8.  Impressive in itself, but don't forget they beat 2 teams with 10+ losses (OSU, Iowa) en route to the BXI tournament final, and had to get through Northern Iowa, Bucknell, and 20-13 N.C. State to get to the final 8.  I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
  • 2003-04 -- This is where the wheels come off.  Wisconsin wins the Big Ten tournament, storming through some legitimate opposition, before bowing out to #8 Pitt in the tournament.

I don't think there's enough data to make a determination yet, but these are teams that win games early, due in no small part to experience and discipline.  Late in the season, when the experience factor is largely neutralized, Wisconsin struggles.

Either that, or I'm over-analyzing one loss.  You make the call.

4.  Michigan State (20-3, 8-2) (Previous: #4)
Last week:  1-0 (W vs. Northwestern)
Next week:  2/12 @ Purdue, 2/16 @ Indiana

You've got no time for the messenger
You've got no regard for the things that you don't understand
You've got no fear of the underdog
That's why you will not survive

--Spoon, "The Underdog," Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

To Sparty, who holds the TV broadcasting rights to both of the two worst losses of the Big Ten season to date.  Continue turning the ball over.  Continue playing down to the level of your opposition.  Continue dropping winnable games.  See what happens.  You're talking to a veteran of The Steve Alford Experience.  Believe me when I say it's not pretty.

5.  Ohio State (16-8, 7-4) (Previous: #6)
Last week:  1-1 (W vs. Michigan, L vs. Iowa)
Next week:  2/13 @ Northwestern, 2/17 @ Michigan

Stay out super late tonight picking apples, making pies
Put a little something in our lemonade and take it with us
We’re half-awake in a fake empire
We’re half-awake in a fake empire

--The National, "Fake Empire," Boxer

Only here because I can't resist a good Maurice Clarett "gettin' my goose on" joke.

There isn't much to say about this team.  They win games they should.  They lose games they shouldn't.  They are the epitome of a middle-of-the-pack team, and that's precisely where they've been all season.

6.  Minnesota (15-7, 5-5) (Previous: #7)
Last week:  2-0 (W @ Northwestern, vs. Iowa)
Next week: 2/12 vs. Illinois, 2/16 @ Wisconsin

He was drunk and exhausted but he was critically acclaimed and respected.
He loved the Golden Gophers but he hated all the drawn out winters.
He likes the warm feeling but he's tired of all the dehydration.
Most nights were kind of fuzzy but that last night he had total retention.

--The Hold Steady, "Stuck Between Stations," Boys and Girls in America

Really only here because, for the first time in rock history, someone found a reason to mention the University of Minnesota.  However, there is clearly an issue to address with a certain rodent.

Paging Jim Shikenjanski apparently decided to call me out for saying, "Iowa would beat Minnesota in The Barn."  There's no denying I said it, but it was not in any way related to basketball...

There is definitive photographic proof of Iowa beating Minnesota in the barn.  Who is eating crow now, PJS?

Oh, and by the way, we won something.    Actually, we won a couple of things.

7.  Iowa (11-14, 4-8) (Previous: #5)
Last week:  0-2 (L vs. Wisconsin, @ Minnesota)
Next week:  2/14 vs. Michigan

Oh God come quickly
The execution of all things

--Rilo Kiley, "The Execution of All Things," The Execution of All Things

I love this team, and I know it has greatly exceeded all expectations this year, but it's still occasionally frustrating.  The defense is excellent, and the shooting is improving, but the turnovers and the sloppiness kills my soul.  Never was the dichotomy of this team more on display than Saturday, where we got killed on the glass and turned the ball over constantly, yet stayed in the game by holding Minny to 63 points on 43% from the field.  Once they start protecting the ball and, yes, executing the offense with the same attention to detail that they display on the defensive end, the sky is the limit for Iowa.  But it's hard to keep expectations in check while they find a way to do that.

8.  Illinois (10-14, 2-9) (Previous: #9)
Last week:  0-1 (L vs. Indiana)
Next week:  2/12 @ Minnesota, 2/16 @ Penn State

That's when I knew you
You might be lonely too
That's what I wished for
Somebody just like you
To tell me what to do, honestly
And leave me like you found me

--Wilco, "Leave Me (Like You Found Me)," Sky Blue Sky

A melancholy plea for a return to normalcy to Illinois, whose fans are increasingly resigned to the fact that Dee Brown is no longer eligible.  Bruce Weber, as good a tactician as he may be, hasn't come within 500 miles of the talent base gifted to him in 2003.  There's simply no way he'll leave this program as he found it, especially since he'll likely be leaving soon.

9.  Michigan (6-17, 2-9) (Previous: #10)
Last week:  1-1 (L @ Ohio State, W vs. Penn State)
Next week:  2/14 @ Iowa, 2/17 vs. Ohio State

There's a doggie coming here to eat now
It's dated back to 1993
I don't care what the people say 'cause
That dog he don't come around anymore
No, no the dog is gone, the dog is gone

--Band of Horses, "Ode to LRC," Cease to Begin

Michigan basketball:  A relic of the past.  Never was that more on display than this week, when Chris Webber hobbled back to Golden State, Juwan Howard was sent to the end of the bench in Dallas, and Ray Jackson asked me if I wanted some jalapeno poppers at Applebee's.  Jalen Rose isn't coming through those doors, Michigan fans.  And the rebuild may be more than poor John Beilein can handle.  But, hey, at least they beat Penn State, making MSU "little brother" by the transitive property.

10.  Penn State (11-12, 3-8) (Previous: #8)
Last week:  0-2 (L @ Purdue, @ Michigan)
Next week:  2/16 vs. Illinois

Just when you think that you're in control
Just when you think that you've got a hold
Just when you get on a roll
Here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again
Oh, here it goes again
I should have known
Should have known
Should have known again
But here it goes again

--OK Go, "Here It Goes Again," Oh No

Before you say it, I know this might not actually be indie.  This song is in every advertisement made in the last 6 months.  It's on "Rock Band."  Yeah, yeah, I know.  But it's late, and there's really nothing better to describe the star-struck Nittany Lions, who had the guns to be competitive for the first time in years.  There's a reason why that's in the past tense; since Claxton went down, this team has collapsed.  They lost to Michigan this week, for Christ's sake.  Of course, that makes the MSU win all the more improbable.  I'm putting that on Sparty, though.

11.  Northwestern (7-14, 0-10) (Previous: #11)
Last week:  0-2 (L vs. Minnesota, @ Michigan State)
Next week:  2/13 vs. Ohio State, 2/16 vs. Purdue)

Still things could be much worse
Natural disasters on the evening news
Still things could be much worse
We still got our health
My paycheck in the mail

--Cold War Kids, "We Used to Vacation," Robbers & Cowards

It was either this or Elliott Smith's "Nobody Cares, Nobody Understands."  Elliott Smith is dead, and Bill Carmody still has a job, so I went with this one.  I think it sums up Northwestern's outlook pretty well.

  • -- The exception might be Northwestern.  It's not that anyone is really following this team, but they're atrocious.  They make High School Musical great by comparison.