Omar is back from a short-lived retirement, and to celebrate, or because I finally have time, I’ve joined the hoards of other Big Ten Bloggers in a weekly ranking of the Big Ten teams. For the first (and probably last) time, I present to you an obvious attempt to rip-off Black Heart, Gold Pants and their themed rankings. At least they had the decency to time their Iowa Caucus themed rankings to the actual Iowa Caucuses. As usual, I am a bit late, but The Wire isn’t The Wire without the best character in television history.
Like Indiana, State Senator Clay Davis has risen to the to by semi-unscrupulous means, but undoubtedly will escape anything more than a slap on the wrist. Indiana lost at home to a back-courtless Connecticut team, but they are still undefeated, and its difficult to justify placing the only undefeated team in conference play anywhere other than first place, even if Eric Gordon is human.
They are young but don’t seem to care. Although Purdue will still probably turn in a performance or two that will make their fans wish they decided to go to Six Flags instead of watching them play, right now they are the most intriguing story in college basketball. Their win over Wisconsin served notice to the rest of the conference that their record has more to do with being a good team than playing bad teams.
#3 Michigan State
By tournament time their losses to Grand Valley State (that didn’t even count) and at Iowa won’t come back to haunt them, but like Cedric Daniels’ mysterious ethical lapse, they will leave even casual observers asking what the heck happened. They had a good wins against bad teams this week.
They lost to Purdue, but everything is under control in Madison. Wisconsin has managed to fly under the radar, but will keep racking up wins like Prop Joe racks up the Benjamins (my apologies to anyone who read that last sentence). Their first conference loss came against the surprise team of the season, and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
#5 Ohio State
Like Snoop, Jamar Butler comes across as a cold-hearted thug (utterly shocking that someone with that many tattoos almost played for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati) but you want him on your team. Butler’s 29 points may have buried Minnesota’s chances of jumping to the upper tier of the Big Ten.
Iowa #6 in the Big Ten? Prez one of the best teacher in his school? Both receive artificially high rankings because of their poor surroundings, but Todd Lickliter has gotten more out of this year’s Hawkeyes than most expected. Someone smarter than me should be able to work in a Jonathan Kozol reference.
Old habits die hard. Both Bubbles and the Gophers are doing much better than they were last year, but at any moment they can return to their old, sad selves. Until they get a signature win, I can’t bump them over teams that have had one, even if I do hate Iowa and think they run their caucuses in a way that only Robert Mugabe could love. They stuck around a lot longer than they should have at Ohio State, but they are a few players short of being a player in the Big Ten.
My how the mighty have fallen. Illinois used to be a basketball school, and Jimmy McNulty was something of a moral compass (in all things but his personal life). A lot can change in a year. At least they play Northwestern at home in what should be a much needed confidence booster.
Both Tommy Carcetti and Jim Beilein knew their job would be tough, but at this point they have to wondering what they have gotten themselves into. They both significantly improved their career prospects, but life used to be so much easier. They are still losing, but the games are competitive.
There a few things in life you simply can’t get away with: runming a gimmicky offense and defense without D-I talent in the Big Ten, and turning over a section of Baltimore to the drug dealers. Both look like good ideas on paper, but they were doomed to fail from the start. Speaking of confidence boosters, about Texas Pan-American in the middle of the conference schedule?
#11 Penn State
Ed DeChellis can probably relate to Walon, everyone’s favorite N.A. sponsor. Just when Penn State looks prepared to make a run and get back to the tournament, Gearry Claxton blows out a knee and Nittany Lions relapse to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. Its a shame, but for everyone involved, it will be a long winter in UnHappy Valley. Getting blown out at Iowa is never a good thing.