The Big Ten takes heat whenever its teams take the field or the court. Both football and basketball get criticized for not being flashy enough, especially by the media. Well, the Big Ten says keep your flash, they will keep the wins.
Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan State are the three remaining Big Ten teams left in the NCAA tournament. These teams were also the Big Ten regular season champions, showing this is no fluke they all have survived. The Big Ten’s three remaining tournament teams are currently more than the Big East, Big 12, SEC, and ACC, who all have only two teams remaining.
Purdue is without its best player in Robbie Hummel, likewise is Michigan State who just found out this week that guard Kalin Lucas will be out for at least four months. Even without being at full force these teams cannot be underestimated.
The stigma put on the Big Ten this year is how low scoring its games are. No one mentions if a Big East or SEC game stays in the 50s, but when Michigan State beat Wisconsin 54-47 this season it was because of the bad offenses. Never mind that Wisconsin gives up a meager 56.9 points a game and the Spartans only surrender 64 a game.
In the Big Ten, it is not all about the high flying offenses like what can be found in the Big 12 or SEC. It is about smart play, good defense, and even better coaching. Do not think for a minute that the remaining tournament teams for the Big Ten cannot score.
Ohio State averages 74.1 ppg, Purdue 71.0 ppg, and Michigan State 72.9 ppg, and when comparing that to the Big East’s best those numbers are not too bad.
West Virginia averages 72.9 ppg, same as Michigan State, and the Mountaineers only give up one point less than the Spartan’s 64 a game. Purdue’s 70.9 ppg outscores Pittsburgh’s 68.7 ppg, and the Boilermakers hold a defensive advantage, though only slightly with 61.0 ppg to 61.8 ppg. Throw the Buckeyes into the mix and it gets even more interesting. They outscore Georgetown 74.1 ppg to 73.5 ppg, and the stifling Buckeye defense gives up 61.1 ppg to the Hoyas 66.1 ppg.
Additionally, the Big Ten can hold it’s own with the Big East this season. Ohio State lost to West Virginia 71-65 this year, but led most of the way. Purdue throttled the Mountaineers 77-62 in their only game versus a Big East opponent this season. Michigan State has not played a Big East team so far this season.
However, the Big 12 gave the Big Ten some trouble this season. Michigan State took it on the chin from Texas 79-68 this season. Purdue struggled with Texas A&M but prevailed 63-61 last weekend. Ohio State has yet to play a Big 12 opponent.
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge usually turns into the ACC domination of the Big Ten. Ohio State and Michigan State both lost to a bad UNC team this year, but the Buckeyes rallied and took down a decent Florida State and good Georgia Tech team this season. Wisconsin beat both Maryland and Duke, and Purdue beat Wake Forest.
The SEC and Big Ten have only matched up twice this season. Michigan State lost to Florida 77-74, and Purdue took down Tennessee 73-72. The game between Tennessee and Ohio State on Friday will break the tie between these two conferences.
When it all boils down the Big Ten has earned more respect from the rest of the nation. The top teams in the conference have shown they are perfectly capable of competing with any of the other conferences’ elites, not only in the regular season but also in the NCAA tournament.