Tag:Big Ten
Posted on: April 9, 2009 3:41 pm

The Big Ten should be great next season

I'm in the process of finalizing the third annual Ridiculously Early But Still Kind of Fun Top 25 (and one) .

Should be up in a few hours.

One early thought: The Big Ten looks like it might be the nation's best league next season.

I'll have more on this later, I'm certain.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Big Ten
Posted on: February 3, 2009 6:56 pm

I'm headed to Big Ten Country

I'm not sure why, exactly, because I pretty much make my own schedule and go where I want. But for some reason I haven't made it to enough Big Ten games, which is why I'm looking forward to traveling Wednesday (provided there are no weather delays).

First up: No. 19 Minnesota at No. 13 Michigan State on Wednesday night.

Then: Penn State at Michigan on Thursday night.

That's not a bad double-dip.

And here are five questions I'm hoping to have answered by the time I return home Friday ...

1. Can Michigan State win without Raymar Morgan?

2. Can Michigan State win at home?

3. Is Minnesota really a threat to win the Big Ten?

4. Is Michigan capable of turning things around?

5. Is Penn State as close to making the NCAA tournament as I believe?

Posted on: December 21, 2008 2:58 am

Big day for the Big Ten

I'm sure I'll touch on it to a larger extent in the Monday Look Back, but it's worth pointing out -- now that this long day of college basketball is complete -- that the Big Ten had a heckuva weekend. Michigan State beat No. 5 Texas, Minnesota beat No. 9 Louisville and Purdue beat No. 22 Davidson, and the guess here as that the league will have at least four and perhaps five ranked teams when the polls are updated.

Not bad for the conference that is most generally regarded as the weakest of the BCS leagues.

And is the Big Ten going to be a six-bid conference?

At this point, it sure seems possible.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Big Ten
Posted on: December 8, 2008 9:39 am

Dear Gary (on the Big Ten)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I am not one of those uneducated idiots who wants to write you an expletive-laced rant about how you don't know what you are talking about. I respect your work and your opinion, but everyone is wrong once in a while. (And on that note), I noticed that when you went through your conference previews you rated the Big Ten as the worst BCS conference, and I was wondering if you still feel that way? I am obviously a Big Ten fan, but by the same token I am not completely biased. The Big East and the ACC most likely still reign supreme, but wouldn't you agree the Big Ten is closer than expected to third?

 -- Adam

Yes, Adam, I would agree. And while we're at it, I'll go ahead and acknowledge that I was dead-wrong about the Big Ten, and, on the other end of the spectrum, about the SEC. I'm honestly not sure if the SEC has any Top 30-caliber teams outside of Tennessee, but the Big Ten has at least five in Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. That's a solid group, with Michigan being the biggest surprise. And when you consider that Minnesota is 8-0 (with a win over Virginia), Northwestern is 6-1 (with wins over Florida State and DePaul) and Illinois is 7-1 (with wins over Vanderbilt and Georgia) it's pretty clear that this league is better than I expected it to be, and what's amazing is that the Big Ten is thriving despite one of its marquee programs (Indiana) experiencing bad times.

Bottom line, I was wrong. And if I was re-ranking the leagues right now, I'd probably put the Big Ten in a tie for third with the Big 12 behind the Big East and ACC, and well ahead of the Pac-10 and SEC. Either way, I'm glad you mentioned the "uneducated idiots" who write "expletive-laced" rants, because I've traded emails with an absolute nutcase the past few days, and I might introduce him in Tuesday's Dear Gary. So keep an eye out for that. And in the meantime, go ahead and turn your TV to the Big Ten Network, because they're playing some pretty good basketball over there, regardless of what you might've read in the preseason.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 13, 2008 11:51 am
Edited on: November 13, 2008 1:25 pm

Dear Gary (on a dumb Big Ten reader)

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Not that preseason projections are ever worth two cents, but your projections are pretty nuts. You only have Michigan State as a No. 3 seed? I promise (the Spartans) will earn a No. 2 seed at least. You also only have four teams from the Big Ten making the NCAA tournament. Even in down years the Big Ten earns five spots. There will be at least six Big Ten teams in the tournament this year. It seems that the bad press the Big Ten has received in football is spreading.

-- Todd

Seriously folks, this is what I deal with regularly.

Just idiots.

I got this email this morning (which I'll destroy momentarily) in addition to another last night from a guy named Bobby, who wrote (and I quote): "Basketball has not even started yet dumbass!" Of course, basketball started Monday afternoon, but whatever. You can't expect Bobby to keep up with the rest us.

Anyway, now to Todd, who is equally stupid, although I admit it is pretty nuts for me to project Michigan State as a No. 3 seed when Todd thinks Michigan State will be a No. 2 seed. I mean, that's a difference of like one whole seed. It's crazy! So you can see where he's coming from, I guess.

As for Todd's other promise -- that there will be at least six Big Ten teams in the tournament this season -- I'll just say I can't imagine it happening. Four is likely, five is a stretch and six seems downright impossible. But that's merely a difference of opinion, and we can all disagree on stuff like that in November.

That said, Todd's belief that the Big Ten gets five spots even in "down years" is uninformed.

What was last season, Todd?

The Big Ten only got four berths last season.

And what was 2004, Todd?

The Big Ten only got three berths that season.

I guess those were really, really, really, down years as opposed to just the plain old down years Todd was referencing. That's probably what he meant, right? Because he couldn't have possibly been spouting off statistics that don't hold up under even one year of research. Because that would be dumb, and Todd couldn't possibly be that dumb, could he?

Posted on: October 28, 2008 11:22 am

Dear Gary (on the Big Ten's lack of top players)

Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I think this list (of player rankings) says volumes about what is going on in the Big Ten.  Why generally are the big-time players not going there anymore? Is there a theme here? Although not separately broken out, I notice that six players on the list are in C-USA -- just one short of what the big time, Big Ten has. Is this more a comment on where C-USA is going or where the Big Ten is going?

-- TheLaw

I think it's a little of both -- plus an anomaly of sorts.

No question, C-USA is getting better thanks to a blend of capable experienced coaches (like UAB's Mike Davis and Southern Miss' Larry Eustachy) and quality young coaches (like UTEP's Tony Barbee, Tulsa's Doug Wojcik and Marshall's Donnie Jones). Meantime, the Big Ten is in transition based upon A) Indiana being stripped of everything and B) Michigan and Illinois being down relative to the type of prospects they are used to enjoying. So that's what you're looking at, although in fairness there were several Big Ten players on the cusp of the rankings -- namely Ohio State's Evan Turner, William Buford and David Lighty and Wisconsin's Marcus Landry. Also, not including Purdue's E'Twaun Moore was perhaps a mistake, as I acknowledged last week.

Anyway, does this mean C-USA is as good as the Big Ten?


That's silly.

But I do believe the Big Ten is the weakest of the BCS leagues, though I'm not sure how long it'll stay this way. Looking ahead, I think it's safe to always assume Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue will be good based upon the way those programs recruit. Wisconsin under Bo Ryan speaks for itself. And then when you consider that Illinois (with Bruce Weber) has enhanced its recruiting, Indiana (with Tom Crean) will almost certainly return to prominence and Minnesota (with Tubby Smith) is headed in the right direction it's pretty simple to conclude that the Big Ten will be strong again soon.

So if you're a Big Ten fan, my advice is to relax and be patient.

The league should still get no less than four bids to the NCAA tournament.

And there's at least an outside chance that it could somehow get five if things break correctly.

Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com