25
Feb
08

The Big Ten isn’t as bad as you think

Matt PainterThere’s been a lot of talk this season about what a “down” year the Big Ten is having.

Despite not having any idea what criteria possibly come together to form a “down” season, I can assure you the tag is ridiculous.

The first point that should be raised in such an argument is that the Big Ten is rebuilding this year. Although not “powers” in the conference, Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota all have new coaches.

And, all things considered, that trio has been fairly competitive this season. (The Golden Gophers are 7-7 in conference play, Michigan and Iowa each have 5 Big Ten wins)

Secondly, there are four teams from the Big Ten in the top 20. Four locks for the NCAA tournament. None of which will be seeded lower than about a 5-seed.

Name another conference that has four locks. Big XII? Nope. ACC? Nada. SEC? You get the point. Only the 1,403-team Big East will have at least four schools in the Dance.

You may argue that some of the other conferences are tougher top to bottom, but does any conference have as good of a shot at being as well represented in the Sweet Sixteen as the Big Ten?

(No, was the word you were looking for.)

It would seem the main reason the media has been down on the Te(leven)n is that Purdue is having quite the year and Ohio State is mediocre. Besides that, has anything really changed in ’08?

Iowa has always been a semi-serious contender (We still hate you, Luke Recker).

Penn State has always had a couple good conference wins a year.

Northwestern has always sucked (whew, by the way).

So, what is different this year? The way I look at it, the four teams atop the conference standings are each as tough as the other.

It’s true some of the power teams in other conferences have endured tougher non-conference schedules than the top teams in the Big Ten, but that’s what the tournament is for.

All I’m sayin’ is, don’t be surprised if come March, the Big Ten tournament could be a hell of a lot more fun to watch than any of the others.

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