Big Ten Basketball 2013: DBTH. Just another good conference

Submitted by NateVolk on March 31st, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Deep and rugged with good to very good teams it might be, it's nowhere near nationally dominant.

It's been proven once again. This time with an exclamation point because this was the year when the hype was the biggest.

A miracle effort Friday by the likely national player of the year is the only thing currently preventing a total skunking in next week's Final 4.    Scorecard: 4 teams in the sweet 16 who all played semi-home games in the early rounds and when the games went truly neutral and competition stiffened, they couldn't produce.

Syracuse absolutely embarrasses the league champion. Then the Big East plants 3 in the elite 8. After Louisville clobbers Duke tonight, the eye test wins again. When you watch Big East top teams play: bigger better athletes, deeper with those athletes, and  with elite coaching. 

I am the biggest Big Ten fan ever, but let's be real. It's more or less a legend (or leader) in it's own fantasy land. Year in, year out.




March 31st, 2013 at 9:06 AM ^

Maybe my perception is off, but didn't the B1G do well in the non-conference though? I just think drawing large conclusions from a huge single elimination tournament (in a high variance sport such as college basketball) is generally not the best way to judge the finality of the best teams. It's what makes March Madness so good; often the best teams don't win.


March 31st, 2013 at 10:23 AM ^

If we're going by record, then the answer to your initial question is "yes". The Big Ten played 201 non-conference games and collectively amassed a record of 152-49 in those games. That is good for a 0.756 winning percentage. The next three down the list by winning percentage in non-conference play would be the Big 12 (0.744), the Mountain West (0.732) and  the Big East (0.722). 

Also, for the board's edification, overall RPI for this season from StatSheet:

Rank Conference Overall RPI
1 Big Ten 0.581
2 Mountain West 0.578
3 Big East 0.575
4 ACC 0.562
5 Big 12 0.556



March 31st, 2013 at 12:33 PM ^

I believe that the CBS Sports' RPI standings are pre-NCAA Tournament.'s RPI standings are up the minute and have the B1G on top:

Conference RPI Rank Non-Conf N-C Win %
Big Ten 0.5805 1 121 - 31 0.7961
Big East 0.5742 2 151 - 34 0.8162
Mountain West 0.5733 3 87 - 26 0.7699
ACC 0.5613 4 114 - 37 0.7550
Big 12 0.5536 5 89 - 33 0.7295
Pac 12 0.5522 6 109 - 41 0.7267
Atlantic 10 0.5452 7 145 - 77 0.6532
Missouri Valley 0.5393 8 75 - 45 0.6250
SEC 0.5390 9 117 - 58 0.6686
West Coast 0.5323 10 71 - 45 0.6121
Conference USA 0.5172 11 94 - 63 0.5987
Horizon League 0.4964 12 61 - 54 0.5304
Western Athletic 0.4963 13 57 - 54 0.5135
MAAC 0.4905 14 57 - 64 0.4711
Sun Belt 0.4863 15 47 - 54 0.4653


March 31st, 2013 at 12:24 PM ^

(Ranking of conferences by averaging AdjO and AdjD of the teams)

Conference Rating
1 Big Ten Conference .8616
2 Big East Conference .8204
3 Atlantic Coast Conference .7786
4 Pac 12 Conference .7754
5 Mountain West Conference .7474
6 Big 12 Conference .7401
7 Southeastern Conference .7297
8 Atlantic 10 Conference .6886
9 Missouri Valley Conference .6855
10 West Coast Conference .6517
11 Conference USA .5191
12 Horizon League .4825
13 Western Athletic Conference .4703
14 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference .4595
15 Mid American Conference .4101



March 31st, 2013 at 8:56 AM ^

Officiating in Big Ten needs to change, because it's too difficult to adjust to how a game is supposed to be called come tournament time.


March 31st, 2013 at 9:11 AM ^

Absolutely agree.  Granted I don't watch a ton of college basketball (at least not like football), but I feel like we have upper level B1G teams that are built for doing really well in the B1G (read: Wisconsin mostly) that have figured out how to win the conference based on the style of play (and berating refs who they see all the time), but aren't built to make deep runs in the tourney. 


March 31st, 2013 at 10:52 AM ^

Under Bo Ryan, I see one Elight Eight.  in 2000, I see a Final Four (pre-Ryan).  That's all since 1994.  This is for a team that has never finished below, 4th in the Big Ten under Ryan, and has won three conference championships, and two other tournament championships.  That's more conference success than Tom Izzo has had in the same period.  And Izzo has an Elight Eight, three Final Fours, and a National Runner-Up in that same period as well.  So yeah, that pretty much re-enforces my point.  Consistantly in the upper crust of the B1G (figured out how to win the B1G), yet aren't made for the tourney.


March 31st, 2013 at 10:54 AM ^

They are 20-14 in the NCAA tournament since 2000. 4 Sweet 16 trips (2003, 2008, 2011, and 2012), 1 elite 8 in 2005, and a final 4 in 2000. How many other teams have had such sustained success? And then you say they are just built for the B1G, yet you forget that they are Wisconsin. How many elite recruiting classes do they get? We would kill for that success in the tournament over a sustained period with that level of player development. I think they have overachieved already, but what you are saying is that there is another philosophy that UW could adopt and be better....So..What is that philosophy?


March 31st, 2013 at 11:14 AM ^

The OP posted an opinion about the B1G based on the teams left in the Elight Eight/Final Four, or lact there of.  I gave an opinion that Wisconsin is an upper crust team that has figured out how to win the B1G and performed consistantly on the high levels of the B1G, but isn't built for deep runs into the NCAA tourny, which seems how many judge conference strength including the OP.  You presented data to seemingly refute my opinion, but I believe it actually backs it up.  Notice nowhere in my original post did I say UW has no success; only that they aren't built for deep runs.  And I stand by that after looking at the available data.  Do you consider the Sweet Sixteen a deep run?  It's a good record, and UW has only lost twice in the first round under Ryan.  But I would consider only one Elight eight under Ryan, especially for a team that has had some of the most sustained success in the entire conference, a little underperforming. 


March 31st, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

In addition to that they have finished outside the kenpom top 15 exactly 2 times in the last 10 years... part of the reason kenpom should be taken with a grain of salt and wisconsin clearly has figured out how to manipulate their schedule and the B1G, but when they get on a neutral court against a team that they havent scouted to death, they usually don't do well when the competition stiffens.

Smash Lampjaw

March 31st, 2013 at 9:48 AM ^

but it looked to me like both OSU and MSU could not adjust when "ticky-tac" fouls were called. It is hard to adjust when ticky-tac fouls are your game plan. I wonder if the same refs call B1G games differently than when officiating other games. After all, what do you do when every player is fouling at the same time on the same play? I was curious to see if Michigan met OSU in the final, if the officials would revert to calling it as a B1G style game. We won't find out this year.


March 31st, 2013 at 12:28 PM ^

using smash, clutch and grab.  Indiana does this, too - at least in post play.  I felt going into the tourney that Michigan had the best chance of all the BIG teams because we do not rely on the foul to defend.  MSU and OSU - especially OSU - had to make make big adjustments in order to defend in the tourney, and it showed in their barely surviving earlier rounds to looking dismal yesterday.

How effective was Kraft in stopping Wichita State from slashing into the lane?  He got burned over and over again.  How is it that Trey Burke can't beat Kraft consistently, and this kid from Wichita State can?  Because when Burke played him, BIG officials allowed a 40 minute mugging, that's how.

How many times did Duke get to the line against MSU?  A bunch.  I didn't watch that whole game, but every time I looked up Duke was shooting free throws - they went 24-26 from the line.  With MSU getting shut out by Duke's D and giving away 24 points when the clock's not moving, it killed any chance MSU had of pulling off a comeback like ours against Kansas.  And then there was that...

What happened just prior to Burke's 3,000 foot three?  Kansas missed the FRONT END of a one-and-one.  A front end becase it was just their 10th free throw (KU was 7-10 from the line).  We didn't give them excessive freebies and it kept all our best players in the game at all the crucial moments.  Yes, we gave up tons in the paint, maybe we should have fouled some more in there - but then it's probably Mitch not in the game when we needed him most...

Our lack of "toughness" cost us games this year - the BIG regular season title, too, but it is paying off now.  Michigan defends the way you need to in a tourney not full of refs that let you play football.  I agree with the poster above - this has got to change.  It makes for sucky basketball like Wiscy and takes players like GRIII and Stauskas out of games when they get frustrated after getting hacked over and over again on their way to hole.  It sucks.


March 31st, 2013 at 8:57 AM ^

I would say until you get to the Final Four, there is a lot of luck involved. Not saying it is everything, but it is like gauging the Big Ten based on their bowl record in a given year. Never mind that we always get overmatched.


March 31st, 2013 at 9:06 AM ^

People try to draw too much out of single elimination tournaments. The B1G was the best conference in bball this year. Just because Wisconsin lost a game they shouldn't have, doesn't mean they are a bad team.

I hate that people point to national titles as a sign of a good conference. Look at the teams that have won since 2000. Mostly the blue blood programs. We have one blue blood -IU. Doesn't mean we don't have the best conference. The Big East had 5 teams knocked out in the round of 64. We have two more wins than them despite having one less team. I don't really care how the rest of the tournament plays out because it doesn't undo the rest of the season. And I know, the tourney is what really matters blah blah blah. It matters. But it is not an end all be all for me.


March 31st, 2013 at 9:08 AM ^

I don't agree that the Big East is more talented.  The Big Ten has as much NBA talent as anyone.  I think it's a crap shoot when you get into the tournament.  I think the better argument is style of play.  Michigan is probably the least "Big Ten like" of the tourament teams.  Perhaps their style of play allows them to adapt better in the tournament.  Take OSU last night.  Once they got down 15 or so, you knew they wouldn't come back.  They just didnt have the firepower to do it. 


March 31st, 2013 at 10:28 AM ^

Living in Columbus has given me real hate for osu (the fans, actually. Don't care about the school other than their fans deserve pain) but, cumong, man. They came from 20 down to lose by 4. They had a real chance to win that game. You're fooling yourself if you want to say they didn't have a chance.


March 31st, 2013 at 9:21 AM ^

The B1G may or may not have the best team in the country, but both the regular season and the NCAA tournament has shown that it has more teams in the top 16 than any other conference.  


March 31st, 2013 at 9:21 AM ^

Since our win in 1989, the B1G has only 1title, State in 2000. That's pretty bad. During that timespan the ACC, Big East and SEC have quite a few. And it's not just blueboods like Duke, NC and Kentucky although they have 10 in that stretch I believe. Schools like Arkansas, Maryland, UNLV, Arizona, Syracuse each have a title. UConn came out of nowhere and won 3.


March 31st, 2013 at 9:29 AM ^

The conference will have roughly performed to their seeding - which was the best of the majors.

Remember: (1) best conference does not equal best teams. (2) "Luck" affects all conferences. Marquette should have been out in round one - actually needing "help" from the other team to pull it out (3) Several experts noted pre-NCAA that really only IU and M truly had the athletes be serious title contenders. (This was BEFORE they saw the easy draw that OSU squandered)

If anything, I feel it is the Big East that was over-rated or given the sympathy as part of its "farewell tour" - ND, Pitt, and G'town all performed far below their seeds and only 3 of the 8 teams made it to the 2nd weekend, most losing in round 1 iirc. (I refuse to call the play-in games round 1)


March 31st, 2013 at 9:44 AM ^

One thing I do hate about the play-in round, is that's its always teams who are conference champions. Make the "Last 4 In" play those games, and let the teams who won their conferences automatically go to the field of 64. Like their berth is supposed to be.


March 31st, 2013 at 10:13 AM ^

I agree, partially. The last 4 in DO play in the play in games, as well as 4 other low major conference champs. But I get your point, should be last 8 at larges in that have to play.


March 31st, 2013 at 9:59 AM ^

The conference is by far the deepest but, as the number of remaining B10 teams show, doesn't have the best top team. IU was the most dominant all year and choked the most at the end.


March 31st, 2013 at 10:26 AM ^

The IU fans were getting on Zeller for saying something to the effect that he kept waiting for fouls to be called on those defending him.  At least in the case of one player on one team, that might be evidence for officiating affecting play, but even the IU fans were all over him for expecting the officiating to adjust to him rather than the other way around.  

Having said that, part of the reason IU was as successful in league play as it was, was because Zeller could count on the officials to whistle fouls on any defenders getting a bit rough. 


Hardware Sushi

March 31st, 2013 at 10:22 AM ^

WTF are you talking about?

This is not college football. There are 347 basketball teams in division 1. That the Big Ten represented as well as it has is proof it was a dominant conference.

Big Ten is 11-6 in the tournament this year (i.e. the best 60ish teams in the country plus conference champions) unless I counted wrong.

7-1 in the round of 64 with 2 upsets for the Big Ten and one against (Wisconsin)

4 sweet sixteen - 25% - exactly what the Big Ten was seeded.

2 elite eight - 25% - exactly what the Big Ten was seeded.

Fifth place Michigan beat the Big 12 champ, Big 12 runner up, 4th place BE Pitt, preseason hype and NBA talent filled NC State, and won our preseason tourny. Oh ya we also have not lost to a non-Big Ten team.

Indiana be Big East champ Georgetown. Illinois won Maui and beat teams like Gonzaga and Butler. Or you can look at Kenpom and most other tempo free stats to see how strong the top 10 teams in the Big Ten are.

Nobody should be saying the Big Ten is untouchable, but it's clearly and by far the best league this year. Not acknowledging that is the only fantasy in this post. And as much as I hate OSU, they got hardcore jobbed yesterday by the refs. Not a fan of that statement, but it's true. That officiating was an embarrasment.


March 31st, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

This is unpleasant to contemplate, but I think NateVolk has a point, at least as far as the top ends of the conferences are concerned. (Depth is another matter.) Sure, the tourney can be random, but the cream generally rises to the top.

Which Big Ten pre-tourney non-conference wins were *really* good (retrospectively, without regard to the opposing team's ranking at the time)?

Indiana: Georgetown
OSU: 0
MSU: Kansas
UM: 0
Wisconsin: 0
Illinois: 0
Minnesota: 0


I'm serious. On the subject of Kansas, they didn't really play anyone, either, and benefitted (as they have, very often, over the past 20+ years) from playing in a crappy conference. Still, both Michigander wins count as good ones, I think. Georgetown (early tourney exit aside) did well in a tough conference.

Duke beat Minnesota and OSU (and Louisville) in the preseason. Miami beat MSU. Marquette and Florida beat Wisconsin. (As in the prior paragraph, I'm focusing on games involving high tourney seeds. Gonzaga, for obvious reasons, just doesn't count.)

I still think the Big Ten is in a good near-term position. Recruiting has gone well and they should have some more good years. This year, though, I'd have to go with the Big East (again, at the top end).


March 31st, 2013 at 11:16 AM ^

For people saying not to use the tournament I get what you are saying but at the end of the day when you look at the fnal four in most years it is made up of teams who were there all year.  Just look at this years elite 8, duke, l'ville, syracuse, michigan, florida, osu, marquette, wichita state.  Of those teams only two spent most of the year not ranked in the top 10 and I think that is true most years.  I honestly believe that the style of play that is predominant in the big ten is not good for top teams.  If you have a better team it behooves you to get more possesions.  The big ten was certainly the deepest league in the country this year, but that doesn't mean the top 2 or 3 teams in the country played in it so it depends which measure you care about more.

1989 UM GRAD

March 31st, 2013 at 11:31 AM ^ any substantive measure the Big Ten was the best conference in basketball this year.

In addition to all of the stats cited above, a quick look at Kenpom reveals that the Big Ten still has 5 teams in the top 12, even after our losses in the tournament.


March 31st, 2013 at 12:07 PM ^

Believe or not, the same reason why the NCAA tourney is so exciting is the same reason why you can't necessarily judge the strength of a conference by how many of their teams make it to the final four:  It's a one and done tournament where anything can happen.  All the teams that are in the tourney, from 1 seeds to 16 seeds, are there because they've shown the propensity that they can possibly beat almost any other team on any given day.  While the cream pretty much always rises to top in the end regardless, you're going to have a lot of unforseen outcomes that wouldn't hold true if it was in a best of 7 series.  Besides, 2 teams in the elite 8 and 4 in the sweet 16 is pretty damn good.


March 31st, 2013 at 12:42 PM ^

Conference in College Basketball 2012-2013.  Individually, though, there may be four or five teams from other conferences that are better than our best teams.  This, plus a couple lousy games can distort the perception of who's great and who's not in the tournament.  Our 3,4,5,6 place teams are better than other conferences 3,4,5,6 place teams.  Both Illinois and Minnesota played well against  teams seeded a few notches above them.


March 31st, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

Just curious, if Michigan were to win the championship, would that change your opinion of the conference? That would be the B1G representing 25% of the sweet 16, elite 8, and final 4 plus winning it all. The B1G would be 15-6 at that point while the Big East could be 12-8 at best (10-8 at worst).

If Michigan lost to Louisville in the championship game, the B1G would have one more win and the same number of losses as the Big East.

In either of those scenarios, I would have to think that the B1G would still be looked at as a better conference than the Big East. It seems kind of silly to think that the opinion of the B1G rides on one team, though.