It’s no lie that the Big Ten is a tough conference.  The Big Ten currently has 5 teams ranked in the top 25 (ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll) and 1 team receiving votes.  To me this is impressive.  Only the  Big East has more ranked teams with 8, and that’s out of a 16 team conference.   I would be surprised to see the Big Ten  pick up any more ranked teams starting conference play.  The Big Ten is going to beat the crap out of each other…literally.  As for the Big East, I see them losing ranked teams as conference play continues.

When I look at the Big Ten a few teams stick out to me.  Of course Purdue, Michigan State, and Ohio State.  Some might be questioning my mentioning of Michigan St.  Yes, it’s true that they’ve only posted a sub par 9-4 record but remember their strength of schedule.  Tom Izzo even said that he was concerned with the amount of miles he was putting on his team traveling wise earlier this season, let alone the opponents they were playing (Duke, Uconn, Syracuse, and Texas who are all ranked).  Michigan State is and will continue to be a tough team to beat.  A lot of people seem to be selling Purdue short still.  That’s fine, I like flying under the radar.  Flying under the radar with a #10 rank isn’t heard of very often.

Ohio State.  Here’s where I’ll probably upset some readers but it’s my blog and this is how I roll.  I don’t see Ohio State holding on to their #2 ranking or even maintaining a top ten rank.  I think Sullinger is relied upon too much by the Buckeyes and this will hurt them come conference play.  The Big Ten is full of top notch big men and I think this will get to Sullinger and frustrate him.  Let me not fail to mention that Ohio State hasn’t played anybody! I see the Buckeyes flopping like a fish out of water once they get into conference play.

I also want to mention some teams to keep an eye out for in the Big Ten.  Illinois(#20), Wisconsin, Michigan, and Northwestern.  Illinois and Wisconsin always find themselves at the top of the conference making runs at the conference title.  Bo Ryan will have his Badgers ready to go every Big Ten game especially at home.  Illinois, let’s face it.  They figure out ways to win better than any other team in the Big Ten.  That’s what they do.  Michigan and Northwestern, well they make me nervous every time my Boilermakers play them. They have players and the ability to upset any team any night.  These two teams are no push over wins for anybody.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of these teams finish in the top 5 of the conference.

And…let’s not forget the ferocious Minnesota Gophers.  Currently ranked 21st I see them not winning the conference but making things interesting.  I think the Gophers, led by Coach Tubby Smith, have the potential to beat just about anybody.  They too make me nervous when they play Purdue.  After all, it was at Minnesota where Robbie Hummel tore his ACL! The Boilers ended up winning that game but it was ugly.  Penn State also has the potential to stir things up and make things interesting in the Big Ten.

Due to the tough schedule of the Big Ten I think this year your conference champion will have anywhere from 3 to 4 losses.  Plus, basketball (like all sports) is a funny game and anything can happen.  Here’s how I think the Big Ten will play out:

1-Purdue, 2-Michigan State, 3-Wisconsin, 4-Illinois, 5-Northwestern, 6-Ohio State, 7-Minnesota, 8-Indiana, 9-Michigan, 10-Penn State, 11-Iowa

I also see the Big Ten sending 7, if not 8 teams to the big dance.  Because of how this conference will pan out I think the seeds that these teams earn won’t represent how good they actually are.  And going on a gut feeling I see Wisconsin winning the Big Ten Tournament.

 

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