THIS IS AN ARTICLE, by Luke Maiers.
All college basketball season Big 12 and ACC fans have been dismantling the good name that is Big Ten Basketball. Those groups have been calling the conference weak and overrated, but after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, they can no longer say that. As the Tournament moves into the third round, there are three Big Ten teams that have reached the Sweet Sixteen. And if there was some good officiating in the Northwestern/Gonzaga game, there very well could have been four teams.
If you were to have actually watched some of the Big Ten conference games this year, you would have saw how good this conference was from top to bottom. I think what was throwing people off about the conference was Rutgers. The Knights are always clinging to the bottom of the Big Ten and when they win a game or keep it close against Wisconsin, that must mean that Wisconsin sucks. That is not the case. Rutgers has some big dudes on their squad (four 6-9 and up) and that has shown throughout this season.
Before this season, Rutgers had never won three conference games, but they did this year. So when people say look at how week the Big Ten is, I say, look how improved the bottom of the conference is. The same can be said for Penn State.
When the bottom of the conference is improved, it results in a lot more “upsets” occurring. And that is why I think the Big Ten has gotten a rotten reputation this season. Teams like Rutgers and Penn State competing with top tier Big Ten schools. This conference was not weak this season, it was just way more level than most seasons.
For the people who say the Big Ten is filled with three good teams than a bunch of mediocre teams, I will point to the Michigan Wolverines as a prime example of a very good team that most people think are mediocre. If you would look at their non-conference schedule, you would see wins over Tournament teams in SMU and Marquette. The reason Michigan was put on a lower level is because they had some tough conference losses, but that only feeds into my previous statement which is teams in the Big Ten just bullied each other.
The Big Ten has been good all year, and it took most people up until now to figure it out. The quality from top to bottom might make it the strongest conference in the nation. I am not saying the ACC and Big 12 are weak, but the Big Ten has certainly made a statement in the first weekend of the Tournament.