Normally when we look at the Big Ten Men’s Basketball standings at the end of the season, things look like they do almost every year. Michigan State and Purdue are great. Michigan, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Ohio State are up there. Iowa, Penn State, and Indiana are teams that can’t be slept on. You could almost guarantee these exact things to happen every year in the Big Ten Conference.
As we head into the end of the 2019-2020 regular season, however, we see some… not-so-usual things on the Big Ten leaderboard.
Starting off with former coaches of the year, Matt Painter and Tom Izzo, and their teams, Purdue and Michigan State. Normally we would see these two teams around the top spot. This year, that’s just not true. Purdue is currently sitting in… 11th place? Yes. That’s true.
The Boilermakers have lost some games that you would expect them tom losing against a good Marquette team, to a ranked Butler team, and a phenomenal Florida State squad. If you want to be good, though, you need to win against teams that you are better than. For Purdue, this is only a dream. They should expect to lose to Michigan State and Maryland, but they just don’t have enough games in their season to have Nebraska beat them by 14 and have Illinois beat them by 26.
The same thing goes for Michigan State. The Spartans are still in the running for conference champions, but that can’t happen with losses at Michigan by 9 and vs Virginia Tech by 5.
Another interesting team I would like to touch on is Wisconsin. The Badgers are still trying to get back to their glory days from when Bo Ryan was head coach. Sure, with wins vs 9 Penn State, 7 Maryland, and (at the time) 5 Ohio State. Once again, if you want to be great, you can’t lose to teams like Richmond, New Mexico; and even Illinois and Rutgers, as well as they are playing.
You might imagine that with these top teams under performing against the “bad” teams, that the “bad” teams might look better in the standings. You would be correct. This year, the aforementioned schools Illinois and Rutgers (teams normally at the bottom of the league) are in the top of the standings. Both of them have even been ranked at certain points this season.
Currently, it looks like Maryland and Penn State are going to be duking it out for a chance to win the Big Ten regular season championship, and the conference tournament. If I were you, I wouldn’t be betting on anything. As we’ve seen throughout the regular season, anybody could rise to the top and take the crown.
Will it be Illinois or Rutgers? Will Michigan State and Wisconsin find themselves in the championship yet again? Will Iowa or Michigan rise to the top?
The thing that separates the Big Ten from other conferences this year, is that nobody knows; hence why we call it, the “Big Ten Roller Coaster”.
Photo: USA Today Sports