Friday, February 10, 2006

Conference smack-talking

Although IU is not doing so well, my good friend The Taco pointed out that the conference is really good. So, let's pat ourselves on the back for at least being in arguably the best conference in the country, which shouldn't have been an argument after losing to the ACC in the challenge and with the wicked powers atop the standings in the new Big East.

The Big 10 is good this year. Even the bottom teams aren't total slouches.
There were 7 teams in the top 25 (or very nearly) just a couple of weeks ago. But check out the RPI numbers:

NCAA official: 2/7/06

Michigan State #6
Iowa #7
Ohio State #12
Illinois #13
Michigan #17
Indiana #24
Wisconsin #25

7 in the top 25. That as much as the next two conferences combined! It's a great conference.
Next best is the Big East with 4, then the SEC with 3, then the ACC, Big 12, and MVC only have 2 apiece.

& the Other Big 10 teams:

Northwestern #93
Minnesota #99
Penn State #109
Purdue #167

Keeping in mind there are 334 teams rated, the worst Big 10 team is still in the upper half of the ratings, even after losing Five starters this season. (All-conference selection Carl Landry, David Teague-14ppg last year, Juco Brandon Crump -who was drawing comparisons to Dee Brown, frosh Nate Minnoy- 11ppg before injury, frosh Korey Spates, 10ppg before getting booted). All of those players but Spates will be back next year, and probably starting.

While the Big 10 is a really good conference, it might seem less great at the end of March,
because there are no odds-on favorites for the Final Four.

UConn's a lock, as is Duke. It'll be a major upset if either one of them doesn't make it to Indy.
Villanova, Memphis, West Virginia, and Texas all have good shots.

But all the Big Ten teams (of which Michigan State & Illinois are probably the best) are on the "it could happen" list with Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, Tennessee, George Washington, Florida, UCLA, NC St., Oklahoma, and Georgetown. For a Big Ten to make it, everything will just have to fall right and/or someone will really have to catch fire. IF MSU could start playing actual defense and Illinois could figure out how to run a consistent offense, they would be on the second level with 'Nova, et al. But right now, I don't foresee any Big Ten presence in the Final Four.


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