The Big 10 has a serious problem on their hands. They are too competitive this season. This past college basketball season, eight of the Big 10’s teams made the tournament in March. This season it looks like more teams will be going dancing.
As it stands now, 12 of the 14 Big Ten teams will be vying for an opportunity to play in the National Tournament. Although it is without precedent, a large portion of those 12 teams could very well find themselves playing on the second weekend of March.
In an article by Mike Decourcy in the Sporting News, head coach Archie Miller explained the level of competition within the Big 10.
“This is the deepest league in America, and you’re always going into places to play.”
His assessment is far from wrong.
Where the Big 10 Stands Now
As things stand now, the Big 10’s top six teams feature four ranked in the top 25 polls.
The teams that aren’t ranked are Michigan State (3), which boasts a 64 percent win percentage. The following are Rutgers (4) with a 60% win percentage and an overall record of 18-8. Both of which are a whopping two games back from the number one seed in the conference.
One bad week for any team in the Big Ten can change the look of a team’s season completely.
The difference between the 2nd ranked team and the 12th ranked team is a measly three and a half games. A stretch like Michigan state had: drop games to Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin, could send a team from being a half-game back to a basement dweller in the conference.
Does it compare?
What teams in the Big Ten are experiencing is something college basketball fans haven’t seen before.
Yet, much of this season has been something college basketball fans haven’t seen before.
No. 1 seeds don’t seem to last long, and win streaks have been hard to come by nationally. The one exception is San Diego State. Yet, their one caveat has been the strength of schedule, especially coming down the home stretch of regular-season conference play.
San Diego State will have played four Quad-1 opponents all season. While Indiana, this season, will play a total of 16 Quad-1 opponents. Eleven of those 16 will come in the form of conference opponents.
The Big 10 is a blood bath
It is also the perfect microcosm for this NCAA season as a whole. The level of competition throughout the country has found a floor of equilibrium. In return, it’s provided a season that has an abundance of good teams playing each other often.
The Big Ten does not compare, because this season cannot compare to any other college basketball season fans have seen. With a league so competitive, it will come down to the last week of play, and each team will have its fair share of bidding to do.
What does the rest of this season look like?
For every team in the Big Ten, the rest of the season looks like a bunch of must-win games.
Each team, outside of the bottom two, is very much alive for spots within the NCAA’s acclaimed national tournament, and for teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin, Rutgers, and Ohio State, they can not afford to lose.
So the story stays the same; every night out is a must-win game. Even if the team is sitting 10th in the league, it’s fate can change in the manner of just one week.
I am excited to see how things unfold going forward in the Big Ten.
I am a college basketball writer primarily based in Nashville, covering all mid-major activity along with Big Ten hoops.