Saturday, December 14, 2013

Big Ten over rated?

Big day for the Big Ten today. While UW has had a great non-conference season and will now coast into the Big Ten Season with a couple cupcakes in the next couple weeks, the rest of the Big Ten cannot say the same. The Big Ten has struggled against non-cupcakes this year and by my quick and unofficial count has just 2 wins against teams currently ranked in the top 25 (MSU vs. Kentucky, and UW vs. Florida). It's not for lack of opportunities. By my unofficial count the Big Ten is 2-11 against teams currently ranked in the top 25. There are also just not a lot of good wins in general.

Here's a quick list of mostly major conference opponents:

OSU beat Maryland and Marquette, still has Notre Dame

MSU beat Kentucky and Oklahoma, lost to UNC, still has @Texas

Iowa beat Notre Dame, lost @ISU and Villanova, no more big games 

Minn beat FSU and lost to Arkansas, Cuse, no more big games

Indiana beat Washington, lost to UConn and @Cuse, still plays Notre Dame

Purdue beat BC, lost to Washington St and OKST, still has @West Virginia

PSU beat St Johns, lost to Ole Miss and @Pitt, no more big games

Mich beat FSU, lost to ISU, Charlotte and @Duke, still has AZ and Stanford

Nebraska beat Georgia and Miami, lost to UAB, UMass, @Creighton, no more big games

Northwestern lost @Stanford, @NCST, UCLA and Mizzu, no more big games
Much has been made about the poor strength of schedule in the Big Ten. The Big Ten had better start racking up some wins. There are 3 major conference opponents today, plus Purdue gets Butler.


  1. Interesting.

    Fortunately I don't think conference strength really matters much in basketball. The badgers got a 2-seed in 07 despite the Big Ten being terrible. Kentucky isn't held back by an awful SEC every year. It's not like football where perception can be a really big deal.

    Instead, I mainly enjoy watching the teams I hate, like Iowa, lose in the non-conference. I hope their confidence and mojo was destroyed by last night's choke job against Iowa State because I want Wisconsin to pound them twice.

  2. That said I will be rooting for Michigan today because Arizona stands between UW and #1. Plus, I like Beilein.

  3. Wow, I have to say Torvik is crazy on this one. Strength of schedule may not matter if you are Kentucky and everyone assumes you are great, so they won't reduce your rank because they don't want to admit they are wrong. If you are not UK, UNC, Duke, etc. and you don't start in the top 10 based on reputation, then all you can do is win an hope. Perception is a big deal in college basketball, but there are 30-35 games instead of 6-7 meaningful games in college football to correct things.

    In 2007-8 UW was 29-4 going into the tourney with the only losses in the non-conference against #7 Duke and #11 Marquette. The other 2 losses were against a Purdue team that finished the season 25-9, and 15-3 in the Big Ten. UW earned a #2 seed. My guess is that no other 16-2 team with a 29-4 record has been anything less than a #1 seed in recent Big Ten history. I'm sure Torvik will correct me if I'm wrong.

    I will agree that I like watching other Big Ten Teams get pounded, especially those ahead of UW, because fuck them.

    My point wasn't that UW will be down graded because of the strength of schedule. Just that the Big Ten has not been as impressive as some have made them out to be this year.

  4. I agree with your overall points. But I stand by my assertion that conference perception is not a "big deal," at least for the Badgers. I think it's a one-seed line difference at best. If you're on the bubble, it can matter a lot. But even then, it pales in comparison to actual performance and perception of the individual team.

    Take the Badgers in 2008, who were actually a 3-seed! Arguably conference perception cost the Badgers a two-seed, but they were not deserving of a one-seed. The one-seeds that year were truly a cut above: UCLA, Memphis, UNC, and Kansas. They all had fewer losses than Wisconsin. For the first time ever, all four of them went to the Final Four. The 2-seeds were Georgetown, Duke, Texas, and Tennessee. As usual, the SEC was worse than the Big Ten that year, and still pulled the 2-seed. Maybe the Badgers could have been a two-seed, but that probably would have just meant they switched places with Georgetown so they could lose to Davidson one round earlier.

    So while it helps a little bit to have a strong conference -- mainly so that we get more opportunity to collect scalps -- it's not enough that I feel the need do root for these truly evil organizations.

  5. In any event, yesterday was another disappointing day, with Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois losing, and MSU barely beating Oakland.

  6. One more thing. It wasn't really the conference "perception" that hurt the Badgers in 2008; it was conference "reality." Truth is, the conference wasn't very good, which is one of the reasons the Badgers were able to go 16-2. Personally, I'd trade a seed line for getting to win the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament championships.