Believe it or not, Big Ten basketball media day is Thursday. Yes, hoops talking season arrives though it may not feel like it, given the 80+ degree temperatures in much of Big Ten country currently. Some schools have actually already had their media days, and you know what that means- overlap season is here.
So while every single outlet on the planet is posting Big Ten football power rankings today, we’re doing the hoops equivalent.
In the words of Jay-Z, “I’m not looking at you dudes, I’m looking past you.” If you’re looking to do some on online sports betting in NJ, we handicapped every league team for you here- from the local state school at #14, Rutgers, to the conference blue blood Michigan State at #1.
1. Michigan State Spartans
Last year’s inexplicable NCAA Tournament first weekend crash out put an end to the saying “February. March. Izzo,” for the time being. It’s a shame that so many people who follow college hoops only care about the tournament and nothing else, because last year’s Spartans team accomplished a lot during the regular season.
It’s just that tourney success has become so routine in East Lansing that it’s basically expected every year now. Despite all the talent and production lost, the Spartans return a whole lot, and have more than the rest of the league. That doesn’t mean Michigan State is a national title contender though.
There has to come a point where people will realize that yes, Michigan State is the class of the Big Ten, but that doesn’t mean you should pick them in your bracket.
2. Purdue Boilermakers
Speaking of teams you shouldn’t pick in your bracket, when is Purdue FINALLY going to have a “deep run?”
The Elite 8 run in 2000 is now almost two decades ago. Purdue consistently has so much quality and depth that one of these years they finally HAVE TO break through and/or be the beneficiary of a busted bracket or something.
Much like last season, and the season before, Purdue sees their alpha dog leave, but the heir apparent is already in place, and there should not be that drastic a drop off. Another sweet sixteen appearance is doable.
3. Michigan Wolverines
John Beilein produces the results that match the hype which surrounds Jim Harbaugh. It’s time to give the nan his due. However, that national title game performance was just honestly brutal, and perhaps it provided the perfect ending to what was the stupidest Big Ten season in recent memory.
The dumb decision to move the conference tournament to Madison Square Garden and disrupt the schedule made for a needlessly goofy season. It’s too bad they couldn’t clear the final hurdle and end the league’s long national title drought (of all the seasons to do it too). Can Michigan get back there this season?
It all depends on the adjustments they make in replacing Mo Wagner.
4. Indiana Hoosiers
Now comes the season where we see why Archie Miller came to Bloomington with such mega hype and a high pay-grade. Miller turned down previous opportunities to take a power five conference job, but it will all be worth it if he brings to IU the consistent glory they expect.
Blue chip recruit Romeo Langford joins Juwan Morgan to form a solid base which is indicative of the team at large- a stellar mix of veterans and newcomers.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes
Chris Holtmann took advantage of a very down season for the league and won with gusto, showing the rest of the Big Ten that OMG! You CAN actually turn things around in your FIRST season! What a concept! It may be tougher sledding for Holtmann and company this time around though as they will take nobody by surprise.
Still, you’d have to be a fool to not believe in Ohio State as an upper division team.
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers
After all the roster turnover of the recent past, this team has put something together again last season which was good enough to take advantage of a very weak season for the league and rack up some wins. Now it’s up to Nebrasketball to actually take care of business in the pre conference.
If they can, a return to the tournament awaits.
7. Wisconsin Badgers
It’s going to take awhile for the Badgers to be what they once were under Bo Ryan, but be patient because Greg Gard is the kind of man that can get them there.
When Ethan Happ is your alpha dog, it’s going to be alright because he should develop into one of the best players in the nation this season.
8. Maryland Terrapins
In the words of Abba, “there was something in the air that night, the stars were bright, Fernando. They were shining there for you and me, for liberty, Fernando.”
Bruno Fernando has the chance to develop into quite a special player. However, given the overall roster, and the FBI subpoenas, the arrow is pointing down for this program.
9. Northwestern Wildcats
They are nowhere near as bad as they were last season, and definitely not as good as they were two years ago. Having an actual home court again is going to make a huge difference, and this is a team that won’t be as complacent as they were a season ago.
It’s now Vic Law’s turn to be the alpha dog.
10. Penn State Nittany Lions
They took the NIT in Nittany Lions joke to another level last season by actually winning the whole Not Important Tournament. It figures to be another season of straddling that bubble.
No worries though, cuz their fan base will be way more interested in 3rd-string long snapper position battles at spring football practice than with anything this team ever does.
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers
They are not as bad as they were last season, and not as good as two years ago.
Never been a huge believer in Richard Pitino. In my opinion, he’s a classic example of how you can make a ton of money in America without actually being very good at what you do, provided you’re a white male who comes from a wealthy, well-connected background.
12. Iowa Hawkeyes
They’ll be fun to watch and probably win a couple games that they shouldn’t, but Iowa will also suffer a couple head-scratching losses too.
Hawks have a very formidable offense but a rather suspect defense.
13. Illinois Fighting Illini
Eventually, there has to be a time when the Josh Whitman/Lovie Smith/Brad Underwood era finally produces something in an Illini revenue sport that’s not completely awful and unwatchable. At some point, these programs will actually be worth paying attention to and relevant again.
This will not be that time and space.
Seriously though, just by the law of averages and the simple property of natural regression to the mean, Illinois should someday be at least close to mediocrity again in the revenue sports.
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Other people who cover the Big Ten may not say it, but many of them think it- being forced to pay attention to this program, in both sports, is annoying and painful.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.