The Big Ten is very good this season. They are commonly referred to as the strongest conference in the country, boasting three undefeated teams, the top ranked team in the country and seven ranked clubs. In 2011 the Big East sent a record eleven teams to the NCAA Tournament. That is not going to happen this year with the Big Ten, mostly because they only have twelve teams to start. But, don’t be surprised if they get a big number, in the area of eight bids.
The problem is, to have so many good teams you must have some really bad teams. There has to be a team that pretty much everyone beats, if not two or three.
This year, the conference appears to have two really bad teams. Purdue and Penn State are terrible, having lost to the likes of Eastern Michigan, Bucknell, and La Salle and Akron, respectively. It should be noted that Nebraska is not very goo either. They have beaten some poor competition, but have also been blown out by Creighton and Kent State. However, I do think that they are a step above Purdue and Penn State. A short, rickety step.
So, in a conference so good, why are these teams so bad?
Let’s start with Purdue. They have a very strong basketball program, which has attained consistent success. Matt Painter has gotten them in the NCAA Tournament six consecutive seasons, all with over twenty wins. They are just in between talent waves. They are in a valley, a very deep one, but one they should climb out of soon. Purdue is going to have a down year, but should be back to prominence soon. Painter has some good recruiting classes coming in and he is too good to be bad for long.
For the Nittany Lions, this is not an aberration. This is who they are. Though, to be fair, they did lose their best player, Tim Frazier, for the season. I had thought Frazier was the most underrated player in the conference, and had good NBA prospects. They were not very good with him, without him they will really struggle to score. Transfer DJ Newbill has been good, so has guard Jermaine Marshall. As is usual, though, there is just not enough talent for them to compete at a high enough level. Specifically, they are very weak in the post.
In a conference with so many top teams you are bound to have your bottom-feeders. They are the zits on the very attractive Big Ten this year, and they will be popped over and over this year.