The Big Ten Conference was the subject to ridicule around the time of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Then the Big Ten came within a few points of winning the challenge and people thought the conference might be stronger than it was first believed to be. Then people realized that Michigan beat Duke and UCLA, Minnesota beat Louisville, Michigan State beat Texas, and other teams earned impressive wins.
Suddenly the Big Ten was a conference to be feared. ESPN's "Bracketologist" Joe Lunardi had seven Big Ten teams in the tournament last week; a total second to only the Big East. So the other day when Big Ten Network announcers said “Big 10 basketball is right up there … arguably, could be the best conference in basketball right now,” you can't just call them wrong. Right?
Well the Big Lead laughed at them, then gave their hard sell for why the Big Ten wasn't that good. First, how do you laugh the validity right out of this point? Not only did the announcer qualify his statement as pointing out that one could make an argument for the Big Ten, he was redundant about it. He tried to point something out twice that the Big Lead either missed, or brushed over. There are arguments for the Big Ten as the best conference.
Now, I don't agree with these arguments, but they're out there. To me, the Big East is the best conference in basketball this year, with the ACC and Big Ten coming in right behind it. It was wrong to laugh at the argument right off the bat, considering the announcer obviously wasn't saying the Big Ten was the best.
Secondly, we have the case made by the Big Lead as to why the Big Ten isn't that good. I'm not going to rehash it much, but suffice it to say there are seven main points and they all have to deal with the teams' records within the conference. When the post ends after these seven points I am lost and confused.
So the Big Ten is mediocre because when they play each other they come out of it with even records? So if the Celtics, Lakers, Cavs, and Magic were to play each other all year and came out with approximately the same records, they would be just okay? Well, that's an extreme case, but what I'm saying is, how does this mean they aren't very good?
Seems to me that if MSU, Michigan, Minnesota, and others all had impressive non-conference wins (some on the road) and the conference holds the #1 strength of schedule and the #2 RPI rating, then they are pretty damn good. And if these teams that had great pre-conference records and are struggling against other teams in the conference, then I'd say those other teams are pretty damn good too.
I know it's fun to beat up on the Big Ten. Actually, I'm not sure why it's fun, but I just assume it is because so many people love to. Anyway, the Big Ten went from mediocre to great pretty fast this season; I'm just saying maybe we should wait a little while before yanking them back down with the likes of the SEC, Pac-10, and Big 12. Is it homerism when an announcer on the Big Ten Network says the Big Ten is arguably maybe one of the best conferences in basketball? Well...maybe, but I wouldn't laugh at the idea that he may be onto something. Was this post homerism by me? Absolutely.
**Update** Sparty & Friends offer their take on the subject.