Last night, the Terps lost to Wisconsin in a strange game. Wisconsin led by 20 at half, then the Terps cut the lead to 6, then Wisconsin was up 15 again and then only won by 6. Wisconsin plays one of the slowest paces in the country so there was no shock at how low scoring that the game was but the game wasn’t all that exciting. Definitely not the best basketball game ever played.
Then, I watched the recap on SVP afterwards and he showed that according to Joe Lunardi, the Terps and Penn State, who are 11th and 13th in the B1G, respectively, are on the bubble for the tourney!! Making assumptions from there, I’m guessing that Lunardi has 12 of 14 B1G teams with a legitimate shot of making the Big Dance. That would break the Big East’s 2011 record of 11 teams that heard their names called on Selection Sunday.
But is the B1G that good? It doesn’t FEEL like it. Low scoring games seem like they’ve been the norm all year. Just kind of slow pace, poor shooting, not very exciting games. I know, I know this isn’t true for EVERY game, but it’s just how it FEELS.
Michigan is legit and probably the best team. Iowa has Luka Garza and Illinois has the Ayo/Kofi tandem, but I feel like both of those teams are very beatable. Other than that, if Wisconsin has a bad shooting night, they’re going to lose, they’re the B1G’s UVA. Everyone else is solid, but they lack a key piece, so they’ve all been beating up on each other in B1G play.
I think from top to bottom, they’re the best conference in college basketball as far as talent level. But if I was the rest of the country, I wouldn’t really fear most of these teams individually. Even if 12 teams get in in March, I think only 2 or 3 have a legitimate shot at making a run. Every team can be dangerous in their own way, but they’ll really need a perfect scenario to pave a path to the Final 4. Luka and Iowa will have to outshoot you cause they can’t play defense, Kofi will have to stay out of foul trouble for Illinois, Wisconsin has to hope their D holds up, Marcus Carr has to take over a game, etc, etc, etc.
That being said, this is the first time in recent memory that I don’t think the top of the best conference in college basketball is all that. In recent years, you think of the top of the ACC, Big East, B1G and you can name teams that you didn’t want to see in the Dance. Duke, UVA, Carolina, Villanova, Michigan State. I just don’t feel like the B1G has that this year.
Maybe I’m downplaying it, maybe the competition will be great for these guys come March. I mean hey, once you get in, anything can happen. Right now it’s just hard to see. I’m very excited to see the home stretch, and hopefully someone changes my mind. Regardless, let’s get to this bubble in Indiana because I don’t think that I can go another year without March Madness.
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Photos via Sports Illustrated, clickondetroit.com