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Badger Bits: How good is the Big Ten really?

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On Nov. 30, the Badgers lost to UNC by three points (okay, six discounting Ben Brust's awesome, but useless buzzer beater) in one of just four losses by the conference in the 2011 ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Wisconsin got credit for hanging tough with what had been the No. 1 team in the country the previous week, however, and the conference since has been deemed the best in the land just about everywhere.

The notion felt kind of off to me, something that Graham Filler over at Off Tackle Empire noticed as well. It's as if the parity bug that struck the football season has carried over into roundball. No team is without some sort of Achilles heal. Michigan doesn't have the size to compete up with some teams at the 4 and 5 positions. The Badgers simply can't shoot with any kind of consistency. Purdue can't stay healthy and/or eligible, and Illinois has mirrored its football team's tailspin eerily close. The near ubiquitous proclamation of conference dominance couldn't be right.

Filler notes, however:

When the Mountain West may qualify as many Tourney teams as the SEC and the Pac 12 could qualify two teams overall, it should ALSO be markedly obvious that there is no dominant conference in the country. And any discussion of the Big East's tremendous depth is always colored by the huge amount of teams in that conference. Parity truly reigns across the basketball landscape, something we already knew coming off a 2011 Final Four that involved VCU and Butler.

Emphasis his. Good luck trying to eyeball the field and deem any conference as better than the Big Ten. The major statistical measures put the Big Ten tops across the board. Duke and UNC are a hair away from being Duke and UNC this season, and while UVA and Florida State are solid, the rest of the ACC is iffy. The Big East may go deeper at the top, but there is also more crap floating near the bottom. The floor falls out at roughly the same spot in the Big 12 as it does in the Big Ten, and even quicker in the SEC. LOL Pac-12.

Even if it doesn't feel like the Big Ten is the most dominant conference in the country right now, it's difficult to make an argument to the contrary. The lack of dominant teams across the country should make things very interesting come tourney time, at the very least. For better or for worse, a VCU-Butler type Final Four seems like a mere formality at this point.

Thursday Links:

Wisconsin comes in at No. 4 atop the BT Powerhouse Power Rankings.

The Journal Sentinel on tonight's rematch against Iowa.

Another sorta-not-really Danny O'Brien update. Randy Edsall let O'Brien through his Vanderbilt embargo, but possibly only as part of an elaborate revenge scheme. Wisconsin once again gets mentioned in the "also considering" section.

I think this a touching tribute to legenday Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne. I don't know because I've hit my 20 article/month paywall limit. My apologies if it's about some other Ron Dayne.

Bo Pelini needs recruiting help. Don't we all. (Via Pre-Snap Read).

More John Chadima stuff if you can stomach it. Nothing earth shattering, outside of more stupid text messages and the revelation that he never received a written reprimand in 1998.

A UW police officer may have helped save a student's life during Saturday night's hockey game.

Ohio State tries to drown some poor kid in O-shaped letters. Is this a legitimate recruiting tactic? Trying to muscle out the mail coming in from other schools? At least the Badger letter is actually open in the picture.

Wrapping up: Gus Johnson won't be calling games during this year's NCAA Tournament. And suddenly, the world seems a little colder.