Big ten basketball in 2018 is currently trending down in the eyes of many viewers, with only two ranked teams(as of Jan 12), and about 3 other teams with a realistic chance of making the tourney. Let's see where they all stand...
1. Indiana, Nebraska, and Penn State finish 6th, 7th, and 8th with 10 wins but miss out on NCAA Tourney due to missed opportunities in Non-conference
Indiana is the school hit the most by non-conference as they lost to Indiana State(21) and IPFW(20) by a combined 41 points and only lost to ranked teams Duke(10) and Seton Hall(16) by a combined 26 and Louisville by 9. Saying they made things unnecessarily hard on themselves would be an understatement.
Nebraska's key miss helped them more then it hurt as they only lost 73-72 to a highly-talented Kansas team. Nebraska's 3 other NC losses have fewer positives-- UCF(9), Creighton(10), and St. Johns(23). Creighton and Kansas are the only games they could've afforded to lose, and even then it would hurt to have missed those resume buildings wins when they've also already missed out on road wins against conference rulers Purdue and Michigan State.
State didn't hurt themselves in non-conference play until a few days before Christmas, but it will sting for the rest of the season unless they can shock people in conference play. That loss was a 71-70 defeat to Rider of the MAA, a solid team in their conference but a much worse loss on paper then 7 and 11 point losses to Texas A&M(Home, 11) and NC State(Road, 7).
2. Illini finally hit rock-bottom
Strangely I was between stating the above statement and predicting that every team in the BIG will finish with at least 5 wins, this should give room for both to happen. All of the Illini's 5 conference losses have been by 10 or less in respectable fashion and could've definitely pulled off 2 or 3 of them. I'm just going to speculate that things could fall apart if they aren't able to garner road wins over Nebraska and Wisconsin upcoming as a precursor to playing host to MSU. I'll put them down for 4-14, and a tie for last with a Hawkeyes team that came into their house and stool their first victory(1-5) in OT. Illinois will need to hope that either Mark Smith and Trent Frazier continue to make strides on the court and/or 5☆ HS senior 🔶Ayo Dosunmo🔷 is all he's cracked up to be.
3. Purdue Repeats as champions; Outright, and make a splashy dance as well
The Boilers are playing like not only the best team in the big ten but quite possibly the nation. While they're not one of the all-time great teams this conference has produced, they have all the factors of a team like the 2015-16 Villanova Wildcats. College Basketball is asking for a team to hold the reigns of the up and down sleigh ride that is the sport, and the two teams leading the race are those Wildcats and These boilers. Still thinking about the comparison between these boilers and the National Champion winning Villanova Wildcats? Veteran Leadership, past disappointment, defense, improved/sustained guard and bigs play to go along with the absence of a superstar or imminent future NBA player. Both Purdue and '16 Nova start 4 upperclassmen to go along with an X-factor lower-classmen guard; Jalen Brunson for the Wildcats and Carsen Edwards for the Boilermakers. Both teams consist of players who've made the tourney every year of their career and have underperformed(2016-17 Purdue debatable). Both teams have averaged similar totals in three key departments during conference play(only 5 games for Purdue)-- FG % is 47.2 for Nova and 48 for Purdue, PPG is 77.6 for Nova and 76 for Purdue, and on defensive side Purdue allows 65.2 PPG and Nova allowed 65.9. Purdue has scored 85.2 PPG in the entire season, with 63.6 points allowed(same exact as Nova) and a 50.1% shooting percentage that includes a 41.6% mark from 3. Alright maybe this is getting a little over-the-top so I'll just finish by saying that both teams take care of the ball very well and have 11 combined players amongst the top of their lineups that shot at least 35% from 3... and that's a good sign when your a defensive team leading your conference's in points and least allowed(both were/are 1st or close to in both categories).
Yea so that took awhile....
Big Ten Standings
1. Purdue Boilermakers 27-4, 16-2
Putting them down for a hiccup and an MSU road loss( or another upset loss)
2. Michigan State Spartans 27-4, 15-3
Needing OT to beat Rutgers in East Lansing makes me feel a lot better about giving a team that was 2018's first #1 ranked team 3 conference losses in a "weak Conference"
3. Ohio State 22-9, 13-5
I think their actually legit and giving them 5 losses seems disrespecful even by the way they've played recently-- tossing MSU and Maryland with a look of ease
4. Michigan 23-8, 12-6
Very good and young team that will probably slip up a few times on the road but look very crisp at home.
5. Maryland 22-9, 11-7
Awfully vunerable away from home as suggested by their last two road games-- 91-69 loss to OSU and 91-61 to MSU, but will be capable of knocking off anyone at home; needed in order to stay afloat in basketball relevancy.
6. Indiana 17-13, 10-8
Just a team that's running under the radar(for valid reason) but can still prove dangerous for a lot of foes, even with forward De'Ron Davis out for the season
7. Nebraska 19-12, 10-8
Putting together a solid bounce-back season, even if there isn't a W to point to in prove of their resurgence.
8. Penn State 20-11, 10-8
I know your wondering why I put them in reverse record, the answer is that a tiebreaker between the three teams will determine the BTT seeding
9. Minnesota 20-11, 9-9
Having Coffey out for awhile and the best defensive player in the conference( basic statistics, otherwise probably Dakota Mathias of Purdue) out for the year as well (we'd expect, Reggie Lynch that is). Mason, Mcbrayer, and especially Murphy will provide a solid team but their height is at a big disadvantage with Lynch gone( height has more effect than just rebounding, otherwise wouldnt be a problem (Murphy has 17 DD's despite being only 6'6).
10. Wisconsin 16-15, 9-9
Wisconsin lost a bunch of games down the stretch last year because team's figured out how to stop Hayes, Koenig, and Happ. Now it's just Happ, and he pretty much is only good for one thing-- the reliable layup/post presence, but you can still hack-a-shaq him and he'll make about 50 out of 100. You say Davison is a good player? sure, I haven't watched but can guess he's just the product of a weak lineup where someones got to be scoring. That said Wisconsin is Wisconsin and that's all the reasoning I feel I need for why they'll get to 500.
11. Northwestern 18-13, 9-9
Could it even be that there's two 3-way tie's for a record? I guess so. Northwestern is a team that'll plot somewhere in the 8-10 - 10-8 range i don't think there's much question to be had. 8-10 seems a bit harsh and 10-8 seems too optimistic so I went with 9 wins and I guess a tiebreaking defeat( you can put them at 9 if you want because they should matchup well when it comes to tiebreaking prospects.)
12. Rutgers 16-15, 6-12
Their not that bad. They lost two games to MSU, one was tied at half, the other tied at regulation's end. I think Steve Pikieli is going to have to take advantage of some winnable games this season, and I think Rutgers will be bottom-dwellers(in the most literal term, cuz still kind of are) no longer.
13. Iowa 13-18, 4-14
When your gut says they'll win 5 you should probably go with it, but this is not a very good basketball team and 4 wins would not be terrible given how it's going so far.
14. Illinois 14-17, 4-14
Welp, better luck next year
NFL Playoff Update
#4 Saints 24 @ #2 Vikings 22
#6 Falcons 23 @ #1 Eagles 20
#3 Jaguars 17 @ #2 Steelers 23
#5 Titans 20 @ #1 Patriots 21
# 2 Steelers 34
# 1 Patriots 30
#6 Falcons 23
#4 Saints 31
Super Bowl LII
#2 Steelers 31
#4 Saints 27