What’s going on with Ohio State and Wisconsin? Why is Michigan State losing to a mediocre Georgetown team at a neutral site? How can Indiana lose to Nebraska and then three days later turn around to defeat conference leading Michigan? And how about Northwestern? There’s no way in the world have they won three straight road games at Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota, right?
It’s extremely confusing — the Big 10 Conference that is. Nothing these days seems to make any sense. A league that had so many expectations entering the college basketball season appears to be vastly overrated. Or, at least, that’s what many spectators of the game are starting to believe. The words “disappointing” and “underachieving” have been used to describe some of the Big 10 teams and the conference as a whole.
As it stands today on Feb. 3, the league only boasts three nationally ranked teams in Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa. And one could certainly argue that as of today these same three teams are the Big 10’s only surefire locks to be in the NCAA Tournament next month.
So that brings us to the question: Is the Big 10 in fact overrated?
Absolutely and overwhelmingly not. Year after year, it’s often said that the teams in this league beat each other up too much. This season might be the best indicator of that. There are no nights off. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night, and that’s why the Big 10 remains the nation’s best conference. Look around the league, and you won’t find one bad team. This isn’t a top heavy conference or one with a really weak bottom half — every team is strong.
Sure, if you’re a Wisconsin or Ohio State fan you have reasons to be concerned. The Buckeyes can’t score on a consistent basis, and the Badgers have suddenly forgotten how to win at the Kohl Center. Should Tom Izzo be worried about the Spartans’ loss to Georgetown? Absolutely. The Spartans were physically out toughed and dominated on the boards, but they are still not at full strength. Is Tom Crean probably uncertain about what exactly he has in this Hoosiers team? There’s no question about it. IU can look so bad at times yet so good at others. Additionally, teams like Penn State, Nebraska and Northwestern who were expected to struggle have all greatly exceeded expectations. These three programs are clearly on the up, and it will be fun to watch them continue to grow as the season progresses.
The point is, teams in a conference as good as the Big 10 are going to experience bumps and bruises along the way. When a schedule offers no breaks or opportunities to let up just a little, struggles are going to occur.
The Big 10 is not overrated; in fact it’s anything but. This conference is wild, crazy and simply fantastic.
I can’t wait for the Big 10 Tourney in Indy.
Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball columnist for RantSports.com. He covers the Big 10 Conference. You can follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27