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 looks more like Tarzan than Tonto.
A couple of months ago, we Big Ten Bloggers started this here weekly poll. We started with the obligatory comparison post, we turned the site over to Robert Goulet, we examined the inner psyche of Kelvin Sampson, and we defaced the portrait of George Washington.
Somewhere along the way, something happened. Other pollsters started writing their polls in the same manner. We've said before, and we'll say again, that the comparison post is hardly innovative (in fact, the comparison blogpoll is a well-established gimmick). But the volume of such posts, and the imagination and work going into writing them, was stunning. We had created a monster.
After the jump, this week's poll with some of the best writing from the inaugural edition of the Big Ten Bloggers Basketball Poll and the rest of this basketball season.
1. Purdue (23-6, 14-2) (Previous: #3)
2. Wisconsin (24-4, 14-2) (Previous: #1)
I don't always agree with Hoopraker, but they know their basketball and defend the Big Ten to the bitter end. Prior to Wisconsin's first run-in with the Boilers this year, HR wrote:
Wisconsin and Purdue embody the values of team basketball. While both rosters are replete with players who, given the opportunity, could drop 20 on you, coaches Bo Ryan and Matt Painter have developed sound systems that emphasize discipline, balance, and above all else, defense.
To succeed, these programs have made a concerted commitment to defense on every possession. Not taking a possession off requires mental toughness, and from the example their coaches, Wisconsin and Purdue are mentally tough. Purdue leading scorer, sophomore Keaton Grant explains "[I]n terms of philosophy, we’re [WI & PU] both defensive-minded first. That’s the biggest thing. Then, the offense comes." Such are words that would make notorious curmudgeons Dick Bennett and Gene Keady beam with pride.
3. Michigan State (23-6, 11-5) (Previous: #4)
It wasn't part of a theme, but the now-defunct Big Ten Chronicle provided spot-on analysis of Michigan State:
Once again the Spartans can stake claim to the Big Ten team doing the least with the most amount of talent. Back-to-back losses at Purdue and Indiana are nothing to be ashamed of, but MSU needed to at least split in their road trip to the state of Indiana last week if they wanted to keep any hope alive for the regular season crown. Surprisingly, the Spartan offense is only averaging 0.99 points per possession in conference games and continue to be haunted by turnovers. Obviously, Michigan State will still be a tournament team, but we are currently looking at three straight disappointing seasons for Coach Izzo's squad.
For those of you who want more Iowa news [News? Name one thing on this blog that can be considered news. -- Ed.], Brad is now writing at Hawkeye Sports News. Right now, the front page has an honest-to-God interview with Duez Henderson. Go ahead, read it. We'll wait.
4. Indiana (24-5, 13-3) (Previous: #2)
Gotta acknowledge the Godfather. We don't like Minnesota around these parts, but Tom at Gopher Nation is one of the few exceptions. Writing the poll is a cakewalk; compiling the numbers from a bunch of disorganized people and coming up with a coherent conference-wide ranking is the tough part.
I link Tom's Week 6 poll, only for the Illinois student dressed as a cell phone.
5. Minnesota (18-10, 8-8) (Previous: #5)
The amount of information on The Enlightened Spartan is generally enough to induce an epileptic seizure. However, ES was also able to put Minnesota in the right light, in a post comparing the Big Ten with movie stars...and feet:
[Minnesota is] Mickey Rourke. Takes it on the chin from MSU, but looks good doing it.
6. Ohio State (17-12, 8-8) (Previous: #6)
Much like the bottom half of the conference, this has nothing to do with basketball. But it's funny, and so I'm posting it. Fellow SBN bloggers Around the Oval, on naming your Ohio State blog:
In old Ohio there's a team
That's known throughout the land;
Eleven warriors, brave and bold,
Whose fame will ever stand,
And when the ball goes over,
Our cheers will reach the sky,
Ohio Field will hear again
The Buckeye Battle Cry.
Drive! Drive on down the field;
Men of the scarlet and gray;
Don't let them through that line,
We've got to win this game today,
Come on, Ohio!
Smash through to victory,
We'll cheer you as you go;
Our honor defend
So we'll fight to the end
I humbly suggest new blogs named "Come On, Ohio!" and "Smash Through to Victory."
Tomorrow, we're changing our name to "We Hear the Final Gun." Also, the URL will be different. Also, we will be writing about suicide.
7. Penn State (14-14, 6-10) (Previous: #9)
Nittany White Out shocked us all by (1) writing about Penn State basketball, which we thought had gone dormant around the time of Vesuvius, (2) using graphs, and (3) stating the obvious: The bottom half of the conference is a Mexican standoff disguised as a pillowfight:
Minnesota beats Penn State (#9), Penn State beats Illinois (#10), Illinois destroys Minnesota by 24. How exactly can we begin to rank teams at this point?
8. Illinois (12-17, 4-12) (Previous: #10)
In The Big Ten as 90's musical acts, Off the Tracks compared Illinois to Britney Spears:
The Illini were on top of the world a few years ago, nearly running the table to an undefeated national title. Now they have completely fallen of the deep end and no one knows why. Do I really need to say more about how they relate to Britney?
9. Iowa (12-18, 5-12) (Previous: #8)
Hoosier Fun Ball compared the Big Ten to CW shows (prior to this post, I honestly didn't know the CW still existed). Iowa, of course, was compared to Tyra Banks:
America's Next Top Model, figuring out the Hawkeyes' performances is as hard as figuring out Tyra Banks' crazy decisions.
I'll let Tyra take it from here:
10. Michigan (9-20, 5-12) (Previous: #7)
11. Northwestern (8-19, 1-15) (Previous: #11)
Brian loses his lunch after Michigan becomes Northwestern's first casualty:
Northwestern Penn State what? Bleargh! After limping through an ugly win over Illinois, Michigan was on a four-of-five roll and faced two games against perennial doormats Northwestern and Penn State. Of course, they lost these games....
This year, Michigan opponents are making it rain: Michigan is 312th (of 341) in opponent 3PT% and 217th -- well below average -- in the percentage of three-pointers opponents launch. Opponents are also making 49.4 percent of their two pointers and getting a ton of offensive rebounds; the resulting defensive efficiency (106.7 points per 100 possesssions) is an unstirring 280th. They aren't forcing the rampant turnovers Beilein's teams usually do, and thus the defense is dead.
The offense: 49th in three point shots, 301st in making them. End of story.
(If you're wondering: Yes. I linked a post which linked one of our own posts just to see if the internets - or the universe as a whole - will come to an end. Good luck.)
I still have Michigan ahead of NU, based solely on the record discrepancy. One win does not a season make. Two wins, on the other hand...