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 Monday by Hawkeye State, who hasn't taken his contacts out of his eyes in three days.
Ugh. Taking New York at +12? That was a good idea. The celebratory bottle of Jack Daniels? Not so much.
Let's just stop all the shouting, turn off the bright lights, and get to the week in review, shall we?
1. Purdue (17-5, 8-1) (Previous: #3)
Last week: 2-0 (W vs. Iowa, @ Illinois)
Next week: 2/5 vs. Penn State, 2/9 @ Wisconsin
Wisconsin beat Indiana. Purdue beat Wisconsin. So, despite a lackluster performance against Iowa, Purdue is #1.
I'm not one to claim the participants in this poll know more than anyone else; a certain blog has Michigan State at #1 this week, showing that some people aren't bothering with unnecessary things like facts in making their decisions. Nonetheless, Purdue's treatment by the national polls is borderline criminal. In the AP, Wisconsin is #8, Michigan State is #11 (dropping only three spots for losing to Penn State), Indiana is #14, and Purdue has finally entered the poll at #24. They're behind Notre Dame (who lost to Baylor) and Marquette (who is currently getting shitkicked by Louisville). They aren't even ranked by the coaches. This team is flying under the national radar. Beware come March.
2. Wisconsin (18-3, 8-1) (Previous: #4)
Last week: 2-0 (W vs. Indiana, @ Minnesota)
Next week: 2/6 @ Iowa, 2/9 vs. Purdue
The biggest win of the week came in what was probably the biggest game of the Big Ten season to date. There's no doubt Wisconsin has the resume for a high seed:
- Signature non-conference road win [Texas, Check]
- Systematic destruction of primary in-conference opposition on national television [Indiana, Check]
- Gaudy record built on wins over the dregs of the BCS conferences [Georgia, Colorado, Check]
- Expectations surpassed [rebuilding year/middle-of-the-pack, Check]
This looks like another #2 seed for Wisconsin, and for that, Bo Ryan should be in the conversation for Coach of the Year.
3. Indiana (18-3, 7-1) (Previous: #1)
Last week: 1-1 (L @ Wisconsin, W vs. Northwestern)
Next week: 2/7 @ Illinois, 2/10 @ Ohio State
Indiana gets 22 and 17 from D.J. White (probably his best performance of the year) and another 16 from Eric Gordon. They hold Wisky to 20-58 from the floor. They shut down Brian Butch (a big red flag for anyone thinking about wagering on Wisconsin in March, by the way). Yet Indiana doesn't approach beating Wisconsin.
I was wrong when I said Indiana might be the deepest team in the conference. They might go 9 deep, but they're increasingly a two-headed monster on offense (can someone explain what's happening to Armon Bassett?) The offensive limitations can be disguised against lesser opposition, but Indiana's defense isn't good enough to keep them in the game against nearly-equivalent opponents.
4. Michigan State (19-3, 7-2) (Previous: #2)
Last week: 1-1 (W vs. Illinois, L @ Penn State)
Next week: 2/9 vs. Northwestern
Um, yeah, about that Penn State game...
Michigan State continues to play down to the level of their competition in road games. This isn't going according to plan. Fortunately, we're done with any discussion of Michigan State as the #1 team in the conference.
In other news, I am Nostradamus.
5. Iowa (11-12, 4-6) (Previous: #7)
Last week: 1-1 (L @ Purdue, W vs. Ohio State)
Next week: 2/6 vs. Wisconsin, 2/9 @ Minnesota
This week will tell whether Saturday's win was a fluke or the turning point. A split this week (not out of the question), and our beloved Hawkeyes have a great chance at .500 in the conference, which was completely unthinkable one month ago and would be enough of a miracle to qualify Todd Lickliter for sainthood. Let's look at the remaining schedule:
- Wisconsin - probably a loss, but not out of the question at home.
- @ Minnesota - see #7 below.
- Michigan - Win
- Northwestern - Win
- @ Michigan State - as always, we'll lose by eleventy gazillion points in East Lansing.
- @ PSU - probably a win
- Illinois - Win
- @ Northeestern - Alford would absolutely lose this game. Lickliter won't. Win.
That's 6-2 in the last 8 games, with a final record of 17-14, 10-8. Optimistic, to be sure, but at least there's cause for optimism.
Also, hugs and hand pounds to Iowa fans, as attendance numbers at Carver Hawkeye continue to rise. The atmosphere at CHA Saturday was fantastic.
6. Ohio State (15-7, 6-3) (Previous: #5)
Last week: 1-1 (W @ Penn State, L @ Iowa)
Next week: 2/5 vs. Michigan, 2/10 vs. Indiana
Putting that "6" next to aOSU is the only thing that could get me to smile today. There is justice in the world.
7. Minnesota (13-7, 3-5) (Previous: #6)
Last week: 1-1 (W @ Michigan, L vs. Wisconsin)
Next week: 2/6 @ Northwestern, 2/9 vs. Iowa
I would start listening to "Free Fallin'" but it only reminds me of yesterday, and that makes my head hurt. You read it here first: Iowa will beat Minnesota in The Barn this weekend.
8. Penn State (11-10, 3-6) (Previous: #10)
Last week: 1-1 (L vs. Ohio State, W vs. Michigan State)
Next week: 2/5 @ Purdue, 2/9 @ Michigan
That win over Michigan State might have been fun, but it doesn't change the cold facts in play: This team isn't good. They lost 5 straight before Saturday. Neitzel went cold (6 points, 2-10 from the field, his second-worst performance of the season), MSU's outside shooting went frigid (2 of 14), and PSU shot uncharacteristically well (49% from a team that is barely above 40% for the season).
In other words, it looks a lot like Iowa's win over Ohio State. It's why I'm still worried about Iowa, and it's why I'm still selling Penn State.
9. Illinois (10-13, 2-8) (Previous: #8)
Last week: 0-2 (L @ Michigan State, vs. Purdue)
Next week: 2/7 vs. Indiana
Ugh. I think I'm gonna hurl.
10. Michigan (5-16, 1-8) (Previous: #9)
Last week: 0-1 (L vs. Minnesota)
Next week: 2/5 @ Ohio State, 2/9 vs. Penn State
Yep. Watch Coffee & TV until I get back:
11. Northwestern (7-12, 0-8) (Previous: #11)
Last week: 1-1 (W vs. Texas-Pan American, L @ Indiana)
Next week: 2/6 vs. Minnesota, 2/9 @ Michigan State
This is the worst Big Ten basketball team I can remember. They won't beat anyone unless Michigan's starting five shows up as hung over as I am. There's really nothing more to say.