It’s November 8th B1G basketball fans! Huzzah, if you’re reading this it means that we actually made it through the strangest, ugliest and most low brow election cycle in the history of our glorious democracy. Election Day fell on the latest possible day that it possibly could, and that’s unfortunate, given how one poll showed that 13% of respondents preferred a meteor hitting the Earth to Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump.
Hey, it’s all over tomorrow and then we can all move on to other past times like college hoops, which tips off its season on Friday.
Viva la Revolucion!
There’s so much going on right now. The Cubs just won the most interesting and entertaining World Series of all time, basketball and football, both college and pro, are now in “overlap season.” So how does one cover it all with only 24 hours in every day.
To quote James Madison as he’s portrayed in the smash hit musical Hamilton, “let’s solve one problem with another.” For our B1G basketball power rankings this season we synced up each team with a current or recent presidential or vice presidential candidate; starting with the projected winners, at the top of the ticket.
Hail to the chief everybody!
1. Michigan State = Hillary Clinton
Yes, MSU is really young this year, but that’s the wave of future in college basketball- winning through a good mix of blue chip recruit freshmen and talented veterans. Michigan State has that with #TheClass, and Tom Izzo landed the best freshmen haul of his entire career.
MSU is Hillary because…
…No one works harder at what they do. As Kanye West “it’s all about that ambition, baby.” Clinton has no personality at all, we get that. She’s not fun or likable, but she is about as dedicated a policy wonk, workaholic civil servant as you’ll find. Just like Tom Izzo works his players in practice as hard as anybody in college hoops. You want to be a Spartan? As RuPaul would say, “you better work.”
Secondly, MSU has never been hit with major sanctions by the NCAA, or any kind of serious scandal. That’s pretty rare among the blue bloods of college basketball, as it’s very hard to find a top tier program that’s truly clean.
As polarizing as Hillary Clinton is, she’s not a criminal. Despite relentless, detailed investigations, ridiculous scrutiny and non-stop hearsay and conjecture, she’s never been even charged or indicted for a crime at any point in her entire life.
2. Wisconsin = Tim Kaine
Everyone is picking the Badgers to win the league and I have no issue with that pick at all. I absolutely love what Greg Gard is about and I could see Wisco making a deep run this March.
Badgers are Kaine because…
…as John Oliver put it, “Tim Kaine is the picture of a Vice-President that came with the frame.” Wisconsin is literally both the picture of a B1G basketball regular season champion and B1G basketball tournament champion that came with the frame. The Badgers just project wholesomeness, like Kaine’s image does. The next Veep even sort of looks like a smaller, thinner version of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez.
3. Indiana = Joe Biden
Although I picked the Hoosiers third, I honestly believe IU to be the best bed of any B1G basketball team to go deep into March. They really look like they’re built for that, and I’m picking Thomas Bryant as my B1G basketball player of the year.
IU is Biden because…
…Naturally, we analogized the coach near the bottom of the barrel in media skills with the politician who’s most prone to just awful verbal gaffes. Tom Crean needs a public speaking makeover as badly as Biden needs to embrace the idea of a better “filter.”
By the way this unintentionally hilarious guy who went crazy viral yesterday is named….just take a look:
CNN's millennial Donald Trump supporter looks prety much exactly how you would have expected pic.twitter.com/3Ib61gVZLB
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) November 7, 2016
4. Purdue = John Kerry
The Boilermakers have their highest preseason ranking since being ranked 14th in the 2010-11 poll. The Boilermakers return three starters and eight letter winners from last year’s team that posted a 26-9 record and was ranked in the nation’s top 25 all year long
Boilers are Kerry because…
…Despite all their achievements and pedigree, they’ve never won the big one, and it was extreme forces, largely outside of their control that denied them. In 2009-10, the “Baby Boilers”came of age and were ranked #3 nationally as February drew to a close. They were set to grab a #1 seed, with a Final Four in their destiny. The school’s first National Title seemed like a real possibility until star player Robbie Hummel tore his ACL on February 24th, and the downward spiral ensued.
John Kerry was a genuine Vietnam War hero in his youth, and then even more heroic in the way he bravely spoke out against that war on Capitol Hill when he was just a 27-year-old. In Kerry’s presidential bid he was matched up against a candidate held down by a very unpopular war, he took on a buzz saw in Karl Rove. “Bush’s Brain” took one late night, sleep-deprived stump speech Kerry soundbite, “I actually voted for the war before I voted against it” and it was game set match.
Rove and his team ran that quote into the ground and it spun a war hero into a weak soft flip-flopper.
Amazing that the same exact party that performed such shrewd brilliance, got totally pantsed by a mere reality tv star in the primaries this time around.
5. Ohio State = Barack Obama
OSU had their rebuilding year last season, and this campaign will see a very young team graduate from the NIT to (maybe the second weekend of) the NCAA Tournament.
OSU is Barack because…
…Take a look at where Ohio State ranks, historically, amongst all B1G basketball teams in major accomplishments. They’re much higher than you think they are in B1G basketball championships, tournament championships, All-Americans, tournament appearances, tournament wins etc.
Just like Obama ended up a much better President than you ever thought. Especially compared to our choices today. Both Barry and OSU are so very underrated.
6. Michigan = John McCain
Naturally, OSU and Michigan end up opposite each other, just like Obama and McCain. Every year I’ve overanalyzed Michigan and picked them to finish much higher than they actually do. This campaign I’m keeping it short and sweet, with my expectations for the Wolverines tempered.
Michigan is McCain because…
…such “mavericks” who fly in the face of convention despite being “inside the beltway.” UM’s Fab Five defied the establishment on many levels and redefined college basketball. All from within a truly “establishment” institution. McCain has a voting record and history of stances on the issues that make him hard to label.
7. Iowa = Dick Cheney
The Hawkeyes still have some nice pieces but they have also lost as much of their core players as anybody. The Hawkeyes exceeded expectations last year largely due to the fact that they could have two true point guards on the floor at the same time. UI does not have that luxury this season.
…the best ones on this list need no explanation. It’s the analogies you immediately realized. If there’s any B1G basketball coach who’s most likely to tell a reporter what Cheney once infamously told a political rival on the congress floor, it’s McCaffery. Neither man is likely to ever be described as “warm” and “cuddly.”
8. Maryland = Al Gore
I still don’t get why so many people are so high on the Terps. It’s like all the pundits seem to have forgotten that Maryland lost pretty much their entire front line, and the replacements are questionable to say the least. Everyone also seems to have forgotten how overrated Melo Trimble was last season.
Terps are Gore because…
They are the most recent B1G basketball team to win it all…no they’re not. Well, not really. Maryland won it all in 2002, when they were still in the ACC. Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 but he didn’t win the Presidency due to…well, let’s just not revisit that right now. So Maryland is the league’s most recent national championship winner…no they’re not.
Al Gore won the presidency…no he didn’t.
Also, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon also has that Al Gore level “you are hearing me talk” level of excitement to his public speaking appearances.
9. Illinois = George W. Bush
Despite the loss of their second best player, Kendrick Nunn, things can only get better for Illini basketball. Last year was pretty much the worst season in school history on every level possible, and there’s nowhere to go but help. Illinois is now healthy and more experienced, but still a far cry from competing for the NCAA Tournament.
Illini equal W. because…..
…They neared their peak in 2004, hit their all-time high in 2005, and then went downhill fast and hard. It’s pretty safe to say they’ll never come anywhere near those heights again. The 2004-05 Illini tied the single season record for victories, going 37-2, and finishing national runner-up.
Their wins record has since been broken a couple times, and in the eleven seasons since that magical campaign they have a grand total of just three NCAA Tournament victories.
Bush lost the 2000 popular vote, but broke a record for winning the most total votes in ’04 (it has since been broken a couple times). He was sworn in for a second term in office in 2005, his high water mark that many skeptics never thought would happen.
10. Northwestern = H. Ross Perot
NU continues to be just a piece or two away from that elusive first tourney berth. They keep getting great recruits, but it only replaces solid players who have departed. They just haven’t had enough talent all at the same time yet to put it all together and this year won’t be the year either.
NU is Perot because…
…When you’re a third party, it’s the same as being a program that doesn’t have tradition or history yet- the best role that you can play is spoiler.
11. Penn State = Admiral James Stockdale
Wait till next year does really apply to PSU. In 2017-18, these guys will be pretty good.
PSU is Stockdale because...
…”Who am I? Why am I here!” Very few people actually care about PSU hoops, so Stockdale’s famous debate soundbite, mocked by Saturday Night Live really works for Nittany Nation.
12. Nebraska = Sarah Palin
Love Nebrasketball Coach Tim Miles but tough times continue.
NU is Palin because…
…A few years ago we were all fascinated by them and saw them as relevant, but the phase didn’t last long and now they’re back to being off the map again. Both are hilarious but for totally different reasons. Miles is clever, humorous and witty. Palin is a guano crazy imbecile.
13. Minnesota = Bill Clinton
The Gophers are going to be terrible again, as UM occupies a special lower rung of the B1G basketball ladder with only Rutgers their peer.
Gophers are Slick Willie because…
…Despite all that Clinton achieved in his life he’ll still always be known for his sex scandals/being a horn dog. Minnesota had a sex scandal involving a player, and an even bigger one involving its recently ousted A.D.
Also, when you say Pitino these days (yes, it’s a different Pitino, the younger one, but still), people first bring up a sex scandal.
14. Rutgers = Donald Trump
RU are de jure B1G basketball, and football for that matter, but not de facto.
We go tRUmp because…
They clearly don’t belong here, and don’t have even have a remote sense of competency to handle what they’re up against. Yet they still convey that arrogant Bridge and Tunnel crowd attitude anyway.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.Follow paulmbanks