Happy Friday and Happy New Year to all who have stumbled here, because you’re in for a treat this week. Our typical non-confrontational and often times complimentary debate style is going by the wayside and we are calling out the frauds of the Big Ten conference at this point in the season.
The B1G as a whole isn’t doing too hot, and there are a few teams skating by with sterling records who will soon see that mirage come crashing down during conference play. We’ll tell you who they are momentarily.
Last week, Connor and Justin gave their holiday sports wish lists, and we asked you whose seemed more reasonable/more likely to happen. While it was very subjective, Connor’s list (healthy Ohio State Hoops, Ohio State Sweet Sixteen, Albert Pujols back to St. Louis) narrowly won. “Coal for both guys” came in second place, and truthfully I thought that option would win as soon as we included it as a choice.
After 32 weeks:
(There have been two ties)
As previously stated, we’re calling out the teams that are obviously not as good as their records have shown thus far. There’s only been one clear championship-caliber team in the conference thus far, and that’s Purdue. Aside from that, the Big Ten ranges from “they could wind up being very good” to “this is one of the worst teams I’ve ever laid my eyes on.”
Do you agree with our picks or do you think someone else is a bigger fraud? Let us know below, or on Twitter @LandGrant33!
Today’s Question/Prompt: Which B1G basketball team is the biggest fraud?
I’ve been back and forth on the No. 24 Badgers (10-2, 1-1) for months now. During the preseason, I was really concerned that they didn’t have enough offense on this team to stay afloat and even make the NCAA Tournament, let alone win the Big Ten. Their top four scorers from last season left, and nobody impactful was walking through those doors this year. I picked Wisconsin to finished in 12th in the conference before the season began.
What I did not foresee was Jonathan Davis tripling his scoring output and becoming the scorer that Wisconsin so desperately needed in order to be able to compete this season. At 20.8 points per game, Davis leads Wisconsin and is third in the Big Ten in ppg. He’s going to make an NBA team very happy next season.
But beyond Davis? Hold your breath, because it smells. Wisconsin's second-leading scorer, Brad Davison, averages 14.5 PPG on 37% shooting overall and 34% from three-point range. Those are the Badgers’ only double digit scorers, and as a unit they shoot just over 40% as a team. KenPom does rate Wisconsin’s defense as the 39th-best in the nation, which is solid, but probably not enough to cover up the rest of their inadequacies.
Greg Gard’s team claimed solid wins in the nonconference over No. 12 Houston, St. Mary’s, Georgia Tech, and Marquette, yes. And those victories will probably be the difference when they make the NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed in a few months with their 9-11 or 10-10 B1G record.
They’ve really struggled recently against lower-level competition, beating Illinois State (KenPom 199) by 4 and Nicholls State (KenPom 212) by 3, although the latter was without Davis. Still, shouldn’t this team easily dispatch Nicholls State even without Davis?
Wisconsin trails Nicholls by 9 at the half pic.twitter.com/DBQnlD6FJh— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) December 16, 2021
Wisconsin’s next six games will likely determine their Big Ten and NCAA Tournament fate, as they’re all games the Badgers could conceivably lose.
- At No. 3 Purdue
- At Maryland
- No. 13 Ohio State
- At Northwestern
- No. 10 Michigan State
I don’t want folks to think that I’m pummeling Wisconsin into the ground, because I am not. I think they’re a tournament team. But they won’t stick in the AP Poll for too much longer, and they’re not going to win the Big Ten.
Once conference play gets started and teams start playing other Big Ten teams night in and night out, the real solid teams start to stand out and the pretenders really come into focus. For me, the main pretender in the conference is Minnesota.
Minnesota was predicted to be one of the worst teams, if not the worst team in the conference and they have proved a lot of those naysayers wrong with their early play. The Gophers are 10-1 and 1-1 in the Big Ten to begin the season.
The issue is their schedule. The best team that they have beaten is Michigan and the Wolverines are drowning right now, falling all the way out of the Top 25 and are now 7-5 after losing to UCF Thursday night 85-71. The Gophers have also beaten Pittsburgh and Mississippi State; Pitt is 5-8 and Minnesota beat them by a single point and Mississippi State is 10-3 with their best wins coming against Arkansas and Richmond.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like this Gopher team and I think they play with incredible energy and do things the right way, and their first two conference games were impressive. As I mentioned, they beat Michigan in an impressive way and lost to Michigan State, but only by eight points.
I like the roster of transfers that they put together and Ben Johnson is a coach who I think will hang around for a while. The problem for the Gophers is simply the Big Ten. Their next five games will go Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Iowa and Penn State. That 10-1 record can take a big hit very fast. They also have to play Maryland, Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana twice. They do avoid playing Purdue twice, but that is about the only bright spot.
In the 10 wins to start the season, six have been by single digits. It is inevitable that the Gophers will drop some of these games in conference play and if they get punched in the mouth early with a brand new team full of transfers and a new coach, it could get ugly quick.
I am rooting for them though and I hope they prove me wrong. They are a fun team that is playing with nothing to lose.
Who is the Big Ten’s biggest fraud?
This poll is closed