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Grading the Big Ten’s men’s basketball uniforms

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They say it’s not the clothes that make the man, but do the uniforms make the team?

NCAA Basketball: Champions Classic-Duke vs Michigan State Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

With basketball season getting underway, let’s take a moment to examine what each team will be wearing on the court in 2017-18.

Let’s take a look at teams’ standard uniforms and see which uniforms score the top grades, and which make you want to say, oh honey, no.

Illinois Fighting Illini

The Illini Nike uniforms feature “Illinois” across the chest in the school’s blue and orange colors. The uniforms feature a jagged line that goes down each side, through their shorts, which in my opinion is a welcome change to the standard line that we see on so many uniforms throughout sports. Their away uniforms are a virtual copy of their home whites, except the uniforms are orange. Illinois has also featured an alternate white throwback uniform, featuring “Fighting Illini” on the front of the jersey.

Grade: B

Indiana Hoosiers

The Hoosiers’ uniforms are a staple in college sports. They have featured basically the same design with slight variations since before the days of Bobby Knight throwing chairs onto the court. The warm-ups are classic as well, with the red and white-striped pants.

Grade: A

Iowa Hawkeyes

The Hawkeyes feature three uniforms: yellow, black, and white. Each is a carbon copy of the other, with “Iowa” arched across the chest. While I normally find black uniforms across all sports appealing, the black Hawkeye uniforms fall short. While their yellow uniforms can function as both a home and away uniform, I much prefer their home whites.

Grade: B-

Maryland Terrapins

Some may consider Maryland the Oregon of the Big Ten with the Terrapins’ multiple uniform options and “busy” designs, often featuring their state flag. I personally love what Under Armour has done with the Terrapins uniforms. The flag is a perfect touch and their four uniform options (red, black, white, and yellow) are the perfect amount. Unlike Iowa, I could do without Maryland’s yellow duds. Maryland even planned a blackout for Wednesday’s game.

Grade: A

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan’s Air Jordan uniforms are a nod to the uniforms worn back in the day by the Fab Five, but with a more modern look. Like other Big Ten schools, Michigan features three uniforms: white, blue, and maize. Just like the uniforms worn in 1991, the Michigan ‘M’ is featured on the side of the shorts.

Grade: B

Michigan State Spartans

When I look at the Spartans’ uniforms, I am reminded more of tank tops than basketball uniforms. The top part of the uniform is not as wide as I would like, but that’s just me. The Spartans wore an alternate uniform in 2016 that was a nod to the Michigan Agricultural College uniforms from the early 1900s. The uniform featured “MAC” intertwined on the uniforms and in my opinion, the uniform fell flat. The Spartans also have been known to wear a throwback uniform with “State” across the front in a script text. I think this is their best uniform, which they should consider bringing back as their primary.

Grade: C

Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Gophers are yet another school in the Big Ten to feature three primary uniforms: white, yellow, and maroon. None of them are very visually appealing and they are, honestly, are quite boring.

Grade: C-

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Before Wisconsin moved from Adidas to Under Armour, the Badgers and Cornhuskers sported virtually the same uniforms except for the Huskers’ block lettering. One of the drawbacks of Adidas and its sponsorship of college athletics is the stark similarities between all of its sponsored teams’ uniforms. Recall the “Bleed Out” uniforms Wisconsin and Nebraska donned when they played each other in 2013 and the 1970 throwback uniforms worn in 2015. And who can forget the monstrosity that was the 2015 NCAA tournament uniforms Adidas produced? They looked like swim suits. Sorry, I got away from the point and that was Nebraska’s uniforms ... they’re OK.

Grade: C

Northwestern Wildcats

While the Wildcats fall into the same category as Nebraska where their uniforms are similar to Wisconsin’s, I am a fan of Northwestern’s uniforms. The Wildcats wear one of four uniforms on any given night: white, purple, grey, and black. As I mentioned before, I love me a black uniform and no color really goes as well with black as purple. The Wildcats’ home whites are virtually a carbon copy of Wisconsin’s home whites, but with black and purple accents instead of cardinal. It’s a good look and I think they know it ...

Grade: A

Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes feature three uniforms: white, red, and grey. The uniforms have been in place for a number of years and could use an update. I think they missed an opportunity to make a change prior to the 2017-18 season. Ushering in a new uniform design, along with a new coach, would have been a welcomed change.

Grade: C

Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State’s uniforms feature “Penn State” across the chest in an arched design, one they have had in place for a number of years. In some cases, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it applies. However, in the case of the Nittany Lions, their uniform game, much like their actual game, could use some improvement.

Grade: C

Purdue Boilermakers

The Boilermakers will be honoring Mackey Arena this season with a special patch celebrating the arena’s 50th year. This is a nice touch to a uniform that is sort of meh. While most schools will go with their school name in an arched design, or just straight across, Purdue has chosen an interesting third option in having the numbers get bigger the closer they get to the middle. In my opinion, it’s not a good look.

Grade: C-

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers is the only Big Ten school making a major change this season, moving from Nike to Adidas. This season, the Scarlet Knights will feature white, red, and black uniforms, all of which are improvements from their previous Nike duds. My personal favorite of the trio is the white home uniforms, which feature a red and black design across the shoulders. The Scarlet Knights will be hoping their new away uniforms will help change their luck, as their have won only one Big Ten road game since joining the conference in 2014-15.

Grade: B

Wisconsin Badgers

In its second season sporting Under Armour, Wisconsin has not made any changes for 2017-18. What I would love to see instituted at some point would be an alternate uniform, such as the 1970s throwback red uniforms worn in 2015.

When Wisconsin signed with Under Armour, I thought we might be in for the Maryland treatment—spice up our uniform options and throw in a consistent alternate—but they have yet to deliver. However, that could very well have been Wisconsin’s choosing. We are a throwback athletic department in a way. Wisconsin’s uniforms across the board have not changed much over the years and there appears to be no change in sight. With Wisconsin’s color scheme confined to cardinal and white, there may be less of an opportunity to introduce another uniform.

Grade: A