The BIG Conundrum

It's basketball season now in the halls of the NCAA and we're strolling off of another year in which the BIG was unceremoniously punched in the teeth during football season. Yes, Michigan State and Nebraska managed to pull out a bit of glory for the legends and leaders (sidenote: ding dong the witch is dead. the wicked witch is dead) but let's be honest: the Gophers lost to at best a mediocre ACC team. Michigan was embarrassed by a 2nd rate team in a crumbling conference. Ohio State was once again popped like a big balloon of bullshit (credit to Michigan St as well on that). The BIG is not a good football conference. We may think in terms of football (I'm guessing Penn St forgot it had a basketball program for a while and Corn Nation's logo is just a football player (side-sidenote: it should be an effigy of Bo Pelini)) but we aren't living up to it.

This all bring's me back to the title of this: the BIG Conundrum (subtitle: Or how I learned to stop worrying and LOVE the basketball nature of the BIG). This is a conference that should be (but maybe isn't) in an identity crisis right now. Beginning this summer, the Big 10 will have 14 members and the 2 new ones main claim to fame will be, in the case of Maryland, basketball, and, in the case of Rutgers, being somewhere near New York City. While the SEC is adding Mizzou and Texas A&M (ie a division champ and Johnny Football) we're adding market size. The Pac-12 got nothing in Utah and Colorado but the conference has jumped as the closest rival to SEC football dominance. The ACC added traditional basketball powers in its expansion while simultaneously it also managed to cage in the wild rambling pixie that is Notre Dame into a small bottle of assured fixtures (while, once again, adding great basketball programs).

My point in this isn't that the BIG is in dire straights. Rather, we need to embrace what it has become. We're the conference that will snap your neck, urinate on your front lawn, and then take your daughter out for a nice seafood dinner in basketball. I WILL BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN. The Big 10 currently has one team (no surprise its Northwestern!) outside the top 100 in KenPom. Our best 3 teams could all individually have a chance at being the single best in any other conference (I don't buy Syracuse and Arizona still has a bit to prove to me). Our middle level teams are ranked while John Groce and Fran Mccaffrey have an anger off (Mccaffrey's winning). Our meh teams are on the bubble. We drew in the Challenge when the ACC got to call in all its reinforcements and sit its crappy teams. And that's the only conference that even comes close. If we're talking Big 12, Pac12, SEC, Big East, AAC or the myriad of other conferences that make up the 351 team D1, I don't think I'd be exaggerating in saying that we could easily go Jackie Chan on these people.

Couple of quick points

  • Northwestern is Dolph Lundgren (he's got a masters in chemical engineering)
  • Michigan State gets to be Liam Neeson
  • Penn St is Sylvester Stallone yes because of Pennsylvania but also because it only makes crap these days
  • Ohio State thinks its Bruce Willis
  • Ohio State is not Bruce Willis
  • Ohio State is Steven Seagal because #### THE OSU
  • Why are we Jackie Chan? Because why not. We have to be somebody and Rush Hours 1,2, & yes 3 are all fun movies

What I'm trying to say is that this is a Golden Age of BIG basketball right this moment. The Iowa Wisconsin basketball game was infinitely better than their football clash. OSU and Michigan St last night might not have the same profile as the BIG Championship game but both teams were of much greater relevance to the overall level of college basketball than the football game. I say that understanding that, yes, if OSU had won the Championship game it would have gone to a slightly bigger game called the BCS National Championship Game. Yet, so did Notre Dame last year. If we're talking top 10 teams, do you really think OSU deserved to be in there against FSU? I definitely don't. Quite ironically our best football team was from one of the only two-three BIG universities that I actually think of as basketball schools: Michigan St (home of Magic Johnson, Tom Izzo and NCAA tourney trophies).

I'm incredibly biased and I realize that in relation to BIG basketball. For me, this isn't really even so much a conundrum because I kinda always wanted this to happen. In any case, get out there and support R2P2. Enjoy these games whether we win or not because you're being treated to the best there is. Be grateful for the environments we'll run into day in and day out through conference season. Embrace the fact that you'll likely be playing against a ranked opponent once or twice a week. Love BIG Basketball.


Editors of The Daily Gopher retain the right to remove posts deemed excessively offensive or grossly inappropriate. Keep it clean and don't be mean.

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