MBB: Around the Big Ten

Audio/Story posted February 7, 2018 in Sports by By Brian McLaughlin

The Big Ten is bad this season. It’s been a year of disappointments and few pleasant surprises. There are a few good teams, especially Purdue and Michigan State, but after that there is quite the drop off. Ohio State and Michigan seem to be good teams but have benefitted from the weak opponents in the bottom of the conference.

If you go down the conference standings a bit farther you will find Nebraska and Penn State. Nebraska has been a pleasant surprise but remember that the Cornhuskers lost by 20 to a St. Johns team that has also lost 10 straight games! Sure St. Johns also beat Duke recently which makes that loss a little better for Nebraska but they still do not have any win in the non-conference that makes them a tournament team.

As for Penn State, they may be as talented as any team in the conference expect for Michigan State, but they cannot expect to make a tournament and be considered a top team in the country when they lost to Ryder and went over 10 minutes without making a field goal against Northwestern. A win in Ohio State sure helps, but this team can’t close out games and looks at time terrible offensively. They have a chance to be back in contention because they play three ranked teams down the stretch but there is still a lot of ground to make up.

Going below Penn State, Indiana has overachieved this year but is still only succeeding because of so many below average teams. It is likely that only four Big Ten teams could make the Big Dance this year. A few years ago the Big Ten was considered the top conference in college hoops and now they are arguably the worst of the Power Five.

Wisconsin has not been the same since Bud Ryan left and are Ethan Happ away from being the worst team in the Big Ten. Minnesota was a preseason top 25 team and have showed promise but have had some major losses to suspensions and injuries. Yet at the same time they competed with Michigan so the potential is there. Northwestern is another disappointing team who were expected to emerge after going farther in March than ever before a year ago. The Wildcats have been playing better as of late and if there was one team in the bottom half of the conference that could still make a run it’s probably Northwestern.

Maryland has been ravaged by injuries with two starters going out for the season, so their season is likely ruined. It is unfortunate but the Big Ten is so confusing and bad because besides Izzo they also don’t have the coaching talent of most other conferences. This year is a wash for the Big Ten unless they can somehow win a championship with Purdue or Michigan State. Seems eerily similar to the SEC in football this year. The conference was terrible besides the top three teams in Auburn, Georgia and Alabama and two of those made the National Championship game. Could we see a similar scenario in the Big Ten Basketball this year? The top heavy conference could be saved by Purdue or Michigan State, but the rest of the teams have a lot of work to do.

Brian McLaughlin is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him email bxm48@psu.edu.