Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Big Ten's Takeover

Just my opinion!
If you know me, then you know I like basketball. No, I love basketball. It's my favorite sport and nothing is even close. Do I play often? Not really. I don't like to move around. But I was always intrigued with everything about basketball: the play-calling, the coaching, the defensive sets, the teamwork. Everything. But if you know me really well, then you know that I love the NBA a billion times more than I love college basketball. I've gotten into countless arguments and debates about this. How college basketball shows "real teamwork" and "only the name on the front matters" and yadda yadda yadda. Yeah, I get it. How the NBA is filled with a bunch of selfish jerks who only care about themselves and "look at Lebron!" and "they don't call travelling in the NBA!" Yeah, I got that too (and they don't call travelling anywhere!). Well, I'll stick to my opinion that the NBA is better than NCAAB because there is more talent, the organization running the show is less corrupt (as far as we know), the quality of games is better (remember that UConn-Butler championship game in 2011? Digusting), and the coaching is superior. Again, it's only my opinion,
     Having said all of this, I love college basketball! I'm a Kansas Jayhawks fan (#rockchalk), I support the Pitt Panthers (#H2P), and I really enjoy having something to watch on Saturday afternoons.

But it's been a weird year. For as long as I've been watching college basketball, I can always remember there being a dominant team. Whether it be Joakim Noah & the Gators or Tyler Hansbrough & UNC or Anthony Davis & Kentucky, there was always a team (or a few) that stood above the rest of the competition. This year, I don't see it. The parity is both enticing and alarming. It's exciting because March Madness will be a madhouse next month. It's constantly being said that there are at least 11 teams who can win the national championship this year because of the evenness in the competition. It's disappointing because, aside from the parity, what's really carrying the season? I hate Kentucky, but last year, I'm pretty sure I watched at least 80% of their games. They were a must-see. I liked to root against them. They were the Heat, the Patriots, the Yankees. Every sport needs a team to get them the average viewer. There is no team like this year; there's a whole league.

While on their own, no Big Ten team really captures my attention, when facing each other, it's a whole different story. After last night's IU-MSU heart-stopper, I had to write about it. I had seen enough. The Big Ten is the best conference in the country and I don't even think it's close anymore.While Indiana may be the #1 ranked team in the nation, they may not be the best team in their own league, which is saying something. Michigan and Michigan State are also in the top 7, while Wisconsin and Ohio State are in the top-19. That's five teams in the top-19 who are constantly beating up on one another. Two of those teams have already been #1's this season (Indiana and Michigan).

I know, I know. My fellow Panthers are looking down at me with shame. "But the Big East!?!?!?" Yes, the Big East has six teams in the Top-25. Should I be impressed? Eh, maybe. This is something Vinny and I spoke about on our weekly radio show The Function: while I believe the Big East is a lot more balanced and will probably end up with more teams in the tournament, the Big Ten is top-heavy, and scary because of it. I argued that any of the top four teams in the Big Ten would demolish any of the top four teams in the Big East. Any evidence to back up such a brash statement? No, I don't think so. I tried, but I have nothing. The Big Ten's top four is 17-10 against the AP Top 25 while the Big East's top four is 12-7; not that big of a difference. Both conferences have produced #1 teams this season (Syracuse), so what is this going off of?

The eye test.

I watched the Pitt-Notre Dame game two nights ago on my phone and I watched the Indiana-MSU game last night. They just feel completely different. The games of the top teams in the Big Ten are always interesting and back-and-forth and keep your attention. The games in the Big East just don't do that for me anymore. Do I watch every Pitt game? Yes! Do I watch a lot of Big East games? Absolutely, I try to go to the Big East Tourney once every few years; I love it. But there's a stink. The Big East is soon to be no more and I can feel it.The luster of the league is lacking and it's sad. It is very sad.

"But Brandon, what about the ACC?"

As much as ESPN wants to shove Miami down my throat, they might be the only team I like watching in that conference. Of course all Duke-UNC games are must-watch, but other than that I don't enjoy watching either. Miami is the class of that conference.

"But Brandon, what about the Big 12?"

Oh, go to hell. Aside from Kansas, the conference stinks.

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