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Is... is the Big Ten a bad basketball conference?

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Indiana
This is all my fault.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

That was a fun football game yesterday, wasn’t it? The Badgers won, P.J. Fleck got to shut the hell up for a bit, T.J. Watt is going to get paid to play football... all in all, a solid Monday.

Now, let’s leave football where it belongs: in the past. It’s time to talk about the crazy-ass week that we just had as a basketball conference.

I mean, did y’all see Nebraska last week???? I am taking full responsibility for this one because I know Tim Miles reads this column and posted it in the Huskers’ locker room for motivation. Here’s a fun stat for you: through 12 Big Ten games, only half of the home teams have won. THAT IS CUCKOO BANANAS, PEOPLE!

I don’t know what this means. Is the conference bad this year? Or should we go with the SEC football strategy and say that the conference is great this year because even our bad teams can beat our good teams (note: does not include Rutgers, like, ever)? Let’s hope that KenPom stats and some good old-fashioned hating can help us suss out the meaning of this season.

Illinois Fighting Illini

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 70th; AdjO: 82nd; AdjD: 77th

Previous week’s results: (L) at Maryland 84-59; (W) vs. Ohio State 75-70

Biggest strength: Malcolm Hill had back-to-back 20-point nights last week. Leron Black had 15 rebounds against the Buckeyes. Beating Ohio State was a must for this team’s tourney hopes.

Biggest weakness: That game against Maryland sure was... something. Holy moly, did the Illini get their doors blown off by the Terps. Like many average teams in the Big Ten, this was Illinois’s first true road game and it showed. I have a couple of friends that attended Illinois and I always thought the shirts they wore that just said CHIEF on them were cool. This led me down a rabbit hole about Native American mascots in college and then I saw this:

That is really offensive, right? I asked an Illini grad buddy about it and he mentioned that the Illiniwek tribe had given Illinois their blessing to use the Chief as the mascot. I don’t know, maybe I just don’t get it.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at No. 25 Indiana

Indiana Hoosiers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 25th; AdjO: 14th; AdjD: 62nd

Previous week’s results: (L) vs. Nebraska 87-83; (L) vs. (neutral) No. 9 Louisville 77-72

Biggest strength: I guess it’s good that they didn’t lose three times last week? OG Anunoby scored in double figures in both games.

Biggest weakness: Everything is fine in Bloomington.

Just fine. Indiana has the best non-conference wins in the Big Ten and, as always, the most hilarious losses. Robert Johnson was an impressive 0-for-8 (and the team was 4-for-21) from three against Louisville. Also, why was Indiana playing a non-conference game after conference play started? FIRE TOM CREAN!

Juuuussssst fine.

This week’s schedule: Tuesday vs. No. 11 Wisconsin; Saturday vs. Illinois

Iowa Hawkeyes

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 75th; AdjO: 50th; AdjD: 133rd

Previous week’s results: (L) at Purdue 89-67; (W) vs. Michigan 86-83, OT

Biggest strength: This dunk:

Peter Jok “It Out” is having a really nice season. I don’t think people talk about him enough. Is the Bohannon family the Watt family of college basketball? It must be crazy having three kids play D-1 sports.

Biggest weakness: You ever have a really bad scab that you want to pick off but don’t because your mean wife says you’ll bleed all over the new sheets and then you’ll have to sleep outside in the cold? Yeah, uh, me neither. In what might become a weekly feature, here is this week’s “What? How? Stat Line of the Week”: Isaiah Moss played 18 minutes and recorded zero points on 0-of-4 shooting with no rebounds or assists and added two turnovers and a foul. I think I just got the flu from typing that.

This week’s schedule: Thursday at Nebraska; Sunday vs. Rutgers

Maryland Terrapins

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 59th; AdjO: 85th; AdjD: 54th

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Illinois 84-59; (L) vs. Nebraska 67-65

Biggest strength: Straight-up smashed Illinois. Kevin Hunter scored 26 points against Nebraska.

Biggest weakness: Take a look at this win probability chart.


Maryland didn’t score a field goal for the final 6:43 of the game! Their win probability was 98.7 percent with under six minutes to go!! Nebraska isn’t even any good at basketball and Maryland let them do this on their home floor!!! At least they didn’t lose to Rutgers (the only team KenPom projects them to beat in their next eight games).

This week’s schedule: Saturday at Michigan

Michigan Wolverines

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 32nd; AdjO: 18th; AdjD: 82nd

Previous week’s results: (L) at Iowa 86-83, OT

Biggest strength: D.J. Wilson had 28 points, 14 boards and six assists in 44 minutes. He is the “anti-What? How? Stat Line of the Week” player.

Biggest weakness: Well, losing to Iowa in anything qualifies as a weakness. But you should always try and improve yourself. New year, new you!

Mr. Worldwide doesn’t lose to Iowa. /sad Dale!

Mo Wagner continues to operate right under our government’s noses. Who knows when he might start his dastardly Die Hard-esque plot to avenge his father.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. Penn State; Saturday vs. Maryland

Michigan State Spartans

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 48th; AdjO: 80th; AdjD: 34th

Previous week’s results: (W) at Minnesota 75-74, OT; (W) vs. Northwestern 61-52

Biggest strength: Why didn’t any of you tell me that Nick Ward was nicknamed “Big Pudding?” I’m really upset that I didn’t know about this until last week. At 4:21 left in the game, the Gophers took the lead and then Big Pudding made a jumper, then a layup, then blocked Minnesota’s shot attempt. BIG PUDDING IN THE HOUSE!

Biggest weakness: Between Big Pudding and Tum Tum Nairn, MSU is running away with the nickname category, which is probably something the selection committee uses since it still uses RPI and nothing could be more ridiculous than that. Oh, MSU is back, by the way. Not that anyone had any doubts.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. Rutgers; Saturday at Penn State

Minnesota Golden Gophers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 37th; AdjO: 89th; AdjD: 15th

Previous week’s results: (L) vs. Michigan State 75-74, OT; (W) at Purdue 91-82, OT

Biggest strength: Nate Mason played like a man possessed, scoring 53 points last week. He had 31 against the Boilermakers and added 11 assists (to only one turnover) and six boards. Maybe they aren’t terrible? The Gophers have now had two players score over 30 points this year.

Biggest weakness: Remember when Kris Humphries was married to Kim Kardashian for 70 days? That was crazy. I wonder what he’s up to now?

This week’s schedule: Thursday at Northwestern; Sunday vs. Ohio State

Nebraska Cornhuskers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 83rd; AdjO: 155th; AdjD: 52nd

Previous week’s results: (W) at No. 25 Indiana 87-83; (W) at Maryland 67-65

Biggest strength: I’m sorry, Nebraska.

Biggest weakness:

This week’s schedule: Thursday vs. Iowa; Sunday vs. Northwestern

Northwestern Wildcats

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 43rd; AdjO: 63rd; AdjD: 46th

Previous week’s results: (W) at Penn State 87-77; (L) at Michigan State 61-52

Biggest strength: Scottie Lindsey had 31 points against Penn State and made five three-pointers. Bryant McIntosh had eight assists in that game, too. Vic Law went for the ol’ Double Rodgers (12 points and 12 rebounds).

Biggest weakness: Beating a somewhat down MSU at MSU would have been huge for their tournament chances, but here we are. I wonder how many stories we will get if NU does make the tournament this year? Are there any national media members that went to school there?

This week’s schedule: Thursday vs. Minnesota; Sunday at Nebraska

Ohio State Buckeyes

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 47th; AdjO: 76th; AdjD: 40th

Previous week’s results: (L) at Illinois 75-70

Biggest strength: JaQuan Lyle had 26 points. So, as some of you may know, I work at bars. On New Year’s Eve, I had three younger folks sit at my bar and start talking about Snapchat and Lisa Frank stickers and whatever else you young people talk about. These three young folks were legit baffled by the fact that their friend in Florida had already celebrated it being midnight and we, in Minnesota, hadn’t. I did not serve them another round.

Biggest weakness: It appears as though the Blue Jackets actually have something to do with this loss.

This week’s schedule: Thursday vs. No. 15 Purdue; Sunday at Minnesota

Penn State Nittany Lions

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 65th; AdjO: 173rd; AdjD: 56th

Previous week’s results: (L) vs. Northwestern 87-77; (W) at Rutgers 60-47

Biggest strength: That Rose Bowl sure was fun, wasn’t it? Sorry to see such respectful and reasonable fans disappointed. Always remember, PSU fans are mainly Eagles and Steelers fans, and that is the worst combo in the country. They deserve no pity.

Biggest weakness: I don’t smoke cigarettes anymore, but I’ve always had a weird respect for places that still allow you to smoke inside. State College just lost one of these places.

Thanks, Obama.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday at Michigan; Saturday vs. Michigan State

Purdue Boilermakers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 15th; AdjO: 19th; AdjD: 20th

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Iowa 89-67; (L) vs. Minnesota 91-82, OT

Biggest strength: I want to take most of Caleb Swanigan’s stat lines out behind the middle school and get them pregnant. 28 and 22 against Minnesota and 11 and 10 against Iowa (in limited minutes). He’s really good.

Biggest weakness: Look, lose to Minnesota if you’d like. I don’t really care. But how in the blue hell do you give up 18 points in overtime to Minnesota? That should be illegal. What is it with schools in Indiana and firing their successful hoops coaches?

This week’s schedule: Thursday at Ohio State; Sunday vs. No. 11 Wisconsin

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 133rd; AdjO: 218th; AdjD: 68th

Previous week’s results: (L) at No. 10 Wisconsin 72-52; (L) vs. Penn State 60-47

Biggest strength: The Bachelor started last night and a girl from New Jersey is competing for Nick’s heart. She wants to be a dolphin trainer or already is one, who can remember? She made dolphin noises at people and wore the shark costume below all night while adamantly stating that she was a dolphin. Needless to say she was the best.

Biggest weakness:

No. It isn’t.

I hope you find love, Alexis.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday at Michigan State; Sunday at Iowa

Wisconsin Badgers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 11th; AdjO: 13th; AdjD: 17th

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Rutgers 72-52

Biggest strength: Nigel Hayes shot zero threes, made all 10 of his free throws and had one turnover. <3 you forever, Nigel. Everyone played in this game. I’m pretty sure I saw you out there! Ethan Happ had another double-double.

Biggest weakness: Really big week coming up for the Badgers. Hopefully you have two TVs in your house!

This week’s schedule: Tuesday at No. 25 Indiana; Sunday at No. 15 Purdue

Well, that’s it. Happy New Year!