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The B1G Roast: The Best Damn Conference in the Land

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Roll Tide!

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin
The conference of champions is back! B1G! B1G! B1G!
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I think it is time we all finally realized something. The Big Ten is actually the best conference in the country! Nine teams below .500 in conference? Who cares! That just means anybody can beat anybody else on any given day. Only two teams ranked in KenPom’s top 25 and three teams ranked in the coaches poll? Well actually there are four teams ranked in the AP poll! Rutgers has a win? Well, uh, actually that is a statistical anomaly that cannot be explained by any reason or science.

The Big Ten basketball conference is the SEC West division in football. Everyone just pummels everyone else and you have a bunch of “quality losses” at the end of the season!

As is tradition, the national media is ignoring us here in the heartland and dismissing the conference as “down” and “bad” and also “really bad.” I think it’s time for the coastal elites to get out of their ivory towers and, uh, the what-have-yous to see where #RealBasketball is being played. It’s all right here in the Midwest.

My message to ACC, Pac-12 and Big East apologists.

Let’s dive in to the best conference, in any sport, with KenPom stats and references to obscure Viggo Mortensen movies!

Illinois Fighting Illini

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 67th; AdjO: 89th; AdjD: 76th

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Iowa 76-64; (L) at Penn State 71-67

Biggest strength: Michael Finke had 17 points against Iowa and Malcolm Hill had 19 points, six boards and seven assists against Penn State. There, uh, aren’t a whole lot of wins left on the Illini’s schedule and I foresee an embarrassing home loss in the first round of the NIT in their future.

Biggest weakness: Take a look at two possessions in Illinois’s game versus Penn State. One on offense and one on defense.

My blood is boiling after watching both of those. I would throw my remote through my TV if Wisconsin did either of those things. Maybe I have an anger problem? Nah, that couldn’t possibly be it.

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

Indiana Hoosiers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 39th; AdjO: 16th; AdjD: 139th

Previous week’s results: (L) at Michigan 90-60; (L) at Northwestern 68-55

Biggest strength: Open-letter writing.

Grant Gelon, who is a person I didn’t know existed before Indiana’s game against Michigan and am still not entirely sure exists, scored eight points in two minutes. If you extrapolate that out over an entire game, Indiana still would have been blown out by Michigan. Thomas Bryant had a double-double versus Northwestern, which is impressive when you consider how good NU is and has been. One day, a program like Indiana may reach the Wildcats’ heights.

Biggest weakness: James Blackmon Jr. got hurt against Michigan. The doctors claim it’s a lower-leg injury but we all know that it’s actually embarrassment. He physically can’t wear the IU uniform anymore because if he puts it on he may never get laid again. The game against Michigan was... well...

The Hoosiers did win something this week! The “What? How? Stat Line of the Week” goes to Zach McRoberts for his “effort” against Michigan. McRoberts started and played 18 minutes, went 0-for-2 with zero points, snagged one rebound, had a block and a foul. That’s five total things in the box score. In 18 minutes. Which is nearly a half of basketball. Don’t get too existential on us, Indiana.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. Penn State; Sunday at No. 11 Wisconsin

Iowa Hawkeyes

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 91st; AdjO: 61st; AdjD: 149th

Previous week’s results: (L) at Illinois 76-64; (W) vs. Ohio State 85-72

Biggest strength:

Really playing heads up basketball, AMIRITE?!?! Beat Ohio State without star Peter Jok “Jams” which is shocking. Iowa’s entire team that beat aOsu didn’t feature a single senior receiving minutes, so the future looks bright.

Biggest weakness:

Nicholas Baer was the one who got clocked in the dome above. Head on a swivel, man!

Bears are heady basketball players.

I really like Jordan Bohannon’s strict adherence to not shooting from inside the three-point line. He was 0-for-2 on the week from two-point land. That’s an average of one shot per game that wasn’t a huck from 25 feet away.

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

Maryland Terrapins

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 40th; AdjO: 60th; AdjD: 36th

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Rutgers 67-55; (W) at Minnesota 85-78

Biggest strength:

Maryland’s record is, like, really good. The Terps advanced stats are... not. Their road record is, well, whatever... who cares?

Freshman Justin Jackson had a monster game at The Barn, scoring 28 points and securing 10 boards.

Biggest weakness: Every time Melo Trimble plays, and whips his head back like he was shoved by The Incredible Hulk, it reminds of soccer players that flop around on the pitch like they were taken down by CIA snipers. Soccer is great for many reasons, not the least of which is its pro/rel system that makes every game matter. I think it would be fun if college basketball adopted that system... and relegated everyone in the Big Ten to the MAC. Either way, Spurs would finish behind Arsenal.

This week’s schedule: Tuesday at Ohio State; Saturday vs. No. 12 Purdue

Michigan Wolverines

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 35th; AdjO: 11th; AdjD: 145th

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Indiana 90-60; (L) at Michigan State 70-62

Biggest strength:

Would you expect anything else from Wagner? The guy is just typecast as the villain and he plays the role perfectly. I’m pretty sure that after Michigan beat Indiana by 30 points, the Hoosiers had to disband their entire university. There is no longer a major state university in Indiana, sorry. The Little 500 will continue.

Biggest weakness:

Zak Irvin with a strong contender for the “What? How? Stat Line of the Week” going 0-for-8 from the field for zero points, two rebounds, two assists, three turnovers, a steal and a foul in 36 MINUTES OF ACTION! That’s almost the entire game. Also, I hate when people complain about the kids these days not knowing something from their own childhood. Why would you expect any of the players on Michigan to know who the Spice Girls are? Although, I hear that Derrick Walton’s favorite movie is Spice World.

This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. Ohio State

Michigan State Spartans

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 51st; AdjO: 88th; AdjD: 47th

Previous week’s results: (L) vs No. 12 Purdue 84-73; (W) vs. Michigan 70-62

Biggest strength: I think this Miles Bridges kid is going to be good. 15-and-13 against Michigan and 33-and-7 against Purdue. Predictably, he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the fourth time. Michigan State also had an alumnus putting Moe Wagner on blast, since we should all be unified against movie bad guys.

Biggest weakness: Rob Van Dam was the best in ECW and I think any time you can reference him in a tweet... you should.

When the WWE took over ECW, not all of the old, extreme wrestlers made the transition to the big stage. One of RVD’s oldest rivals and collaborators is Sabu, and he is one of the originators of the “extreme” style of wrestling that became so popular. Sabu didn’t get his just dues with WWE, but video evidence can show you what you may have missed from The Sheik’s nephew. Anywho, I hope the Izzone chants “Whole F’n Show” the next time Van Dyk is in the game.

This week’s schedule: Thursday at Nebraska

Minnesota Golden Gophers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 44th; AdjO: 114th; AdjD: 18th

Previous week’s results: (L) at Ohio State 78-72; (L) vs. Maryland 85-78

Biggest strength: Nate Mason and Akeem Springs both scored a lot of points last week, including Mason notching his 1,000th point. On that note, I’m pretty sure Minnesota hasn’t won a game in 1,000 days. Also, you can’t buy beer here on Sundays.

Biggest weakness: Winning basketball games since Jan. 8, 2017. That’s five losses and counting, Pitino. Also, I think Ethan Happ has triggered the entire Gopher fan base.

This week’s schedule: Saturday at Illinois

Nebraska Cornhuskers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 83rd; AdjO: 129th; AdjD: 67th

Previous week’s results: (L) at Northwestern 73-61; (W) vs. No. 12 Purdue 83-80

Biggest strength: The deepest conference in basketball proving itself once again with strong, middle-of-the-pack team Nebraska taking down top-dog Purdue. Tai Webster played well in both games, scoring 23 points against Northwestern.

Biggest weakness: The Cornhusker hashtag game is out of control.

You can’t add more to “Nebrasketball!” It’s already a combination of two words! Next week, it’s going to say “NebrasketballieveisthenightbeforeChristmas” or something even more stupid! Stupid Huskers.

This also needs to stop. Immediately. What decade do these dudes think it is? I don’t care who you are upsetting at home, you don’t dance like this in public.

This week’s schedule: Thursday vs. Michigan State; Sunday at Iowa

Northwestern Wildcats

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 30th; AdjO: 42nd; AdjD: 29th

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Nebraska 73-61; (W) vs. Indiana 68-55

Biggest strength: Ranked. Northwestern is ranked in men’s basketball now. I’ll give you a moment.

They’ve been struck by a touch of the vapours.

I think it’s time we all came to the realization that Northwestern is going to make the NCAA tournament this year. I’ve been saying it for weeks and now that we know the Big Ten is the best conference in basketball, what NU is doing is all the more impressive. Hell, the Wildcats beat Nebraska! Nebraska just beat Purdue. Vic Law had nine points and 12 boards against Indiana and Bryant McIntosh had 21 points, four boards and eight assists. Dererk (what?!?!?!?! WHY IS YOUR NAME SPELLED LIKE THAT!?) Pardon had 19 points and a casual 22 REBOUNDS against Nebraska. That’s Swaniganesque.

Biggest weakness: The Wildcats are the Rodney Dangerfield of the conference. They love the movie, Ladybugs.

Also, they get no respect. Don’t fight it folks, we all know this to be true.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. No. 12 Purdue

Ohio State Buckeyes

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 63rd; AdjO: 76th; AdjD: 71st

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Minnesota 78-72; (L) at Iowa 85-72

Biggest strength: Ohio State basketball bores me to no end, so let’s talk about this tweet.

I’ve never seen an episode of Stranger Things, but one of the guys on that show used to work for the same restaurant group that I did in Chicago, so I’m practically on the show. I hope every episode is as thrilling as this video. Just when you think the pizza is gone... three more show up! It’s scintillating television. The dude talking is giving a very serious speech about art and standing up to tyranny or something and all that girl can do is look around wildly and make faces. And then some genius on the internet added flying pizza! Seriously, what can’t the internet do?

Biggest weakness: Ezekiel Elliot tackled and then raced a fan at the Pro Bowl. That was pretty funny, I guess. Jae’Sean Tate had 17 points and seven boards against Iowa. Ohio State’s hockey team was swept by Wisconsin in two different states, which is badass. Thanks, Tyler!

This week’s schedule: Tuesday vs. Maryland; Saturday at Michigan

Penn State Nittany Lions

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 93rd; AdjO: 195th; AdjD: 32nd

Previous week’s results: (L) at No. 11 Wisconsin 82-55; (W) vs. Illinois 71-67

Biggest strength: Facial hair.

That’s a serious dad mustache right there. Well done.

So stern-looking. That mustache doesn’t take no malarkey from anyone, especially bratty children. Mike Watkins will make an excellent father some day. Hung on to beat Illinois at home.

Biggest weakness: Forgot to show up for the second half against Wisconsin, which led to a 27-point loss. Also forgot to show up for the second half against Illinois, but hung on for a four-point win even though the Illini had an empty hoop at which to shoot. Shep Garner sounds like a bad guy in an ‘80s ski comedy.

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

Purdue Boilermakers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 12th; AdjO: 13th; AdjD: 31st

Previous week’s results: (W) at Michigan State 84-73; (L) at Nebraska 83-80

Biggest strength:

FIRE TOM CRE...wait, this is Purdue fans? People in Indiana take basketball seriously, man. Caleb Swanigan had 25-and-17 against Michigan State but turned the ball over seven times, and had 14-14-and-6 (with four turnovers) against Nebraska. Dude is a monster.

Biggest weakness: HOWEVAH! Swanigan’s efficiency in both games left something to be desired. Beyond all the turnovers, he shot 5-of-16 against the Huskers and has seen just about all of his stats (except defensive rebounding percentage) go down in conference play. Purdue is just like every other team in the Big Ten.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. Northwestern; Saturday at Maryland

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 129th; AdjO: 277th; AdjD: 35th

Previous week’s results: (L) at Maryland 67-55; (L) vs. Wisconsin 61-54 OT (Madison Square Garden)

Biggest strength: Our girl Alexis is still holding strong being weird as hell and doing awesome stuff. She mentioned her nemesis Nic Cage again and quoted a popular TV show. I could have used a clip of her wrestling a gator, but there’s always next week.

Corrine and Taylor basically spend the entire episode fighting with each other and also everyone goes to New Orleans and participates in some voodoo ceremony where a white woman in a dumb hat claims to be a voodoo priestess. There was also a date on a haunted plantation and also alligators were hanging around? I don’t know, this whole episode seemed vaguely racist. Needed more Alexis, tbqh.

Biggest weakness:

Corrine is a god-damned nightmare. That is not how you open a bottle of champagne! When you open a bottle of bubbly, it should sound like the whisper of a lady, not the fart of a whore. Which is something I heard someone say at a fancy bar once. Farts are funny, but not in regard to your expensive bottle of champagne. Anyways, Alexis is the People’s Champ and we demand more of her!

This week’s schedule: Tuesday vs. Iowa; Saturday at Penn State

Wisconsin Badgers

KenPom rank: AdjEm: 11th; AdjO: 23rd; AdjD: 9th

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Penn State 82-55; (W) at Rutgers 61-54 OT (Madison Square Garden)

Biggest strength: OK, the game against Penn State was fine or whatever. Bronson Koenig had 20 points and Vitto Brown even played well! Khalil Iverson did his thing.

And this video now exists, thankfully.

But the Penn State game is not the game I want to talk about.

Biggest weakness: The game against Rutgers was a blight on humanity. 3-of-25 from beyond the arc. Fifteen turnovers. Only two players in double-figures. 0.84 PPP. GOING TO OVERTIME WITH FREAKING RUTGERS! Look, I know New York City is fun and there are one million things to do and playing in the same arena as Kristaps Porzingis is intimidating... BUT WHAT THE HELL!?! Rutgers is bad and Wisconsin played down to its level. I want everyone on the team, except Ethan Happ, to think long and hard about this game for the rest of the year so it doesn’t happen again. This entire game should win the “What? How? Stat Line of the Week.” Christ!

Back to the positives for a moment, if I may. Happ is so danged good. His stat line against Rutgers was transcendent. 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting; he made 50 percent of his free throws; six boards, three assists, two blocks, four steals and only two turnovers (he was used on nearly 40 percent of his possessions). His comparable players on KenPom for this year include 2014 Mitch McGary (who was on his way to an all-conference season before getting hurt), 2010 Greg Monroe (who was one of the best players and rebounders in the country) and 2010 Draymond Green (who was previewing his future role with the Golden StateWarriors). The only thing I’m concerned about with Happ is having him turn into a crotch-assaulter like Green, who clearly watched the bathhouse fight scene in Eastern Promises (YOU BEST BELIEVE THIS LINK IS NSFW) a few too many times. Happ is currently third in KenPom’s national player of the year poll and first in the Big Ten. He’s also only a sophomore. /faints

The new beat reporter for Wisconsin looks familiar...

This week’s schedule: Tuesday at Illinois; Sunday vs. Indiana