Not only do numbers not lie, they’re also great assets when you need to prove a point.
Last week, the Big Ten was sitting pretty as we awaited the start of March Madness. The annually overhyped “basketball conference” was feeling itself, as some Big Ten fans and media members felt like it was a slap in the face that Michigan State was playing in the First Four, which is a souped-up play-in game.
The No. 11 Spartans lost to No. 11 UCLA 86-80 in overtime. It would be a precursor for what was to come. Because in just five short days, the conference that was responsible for having half (4) of the top eight seeds in the tournament was down to one left in the whole damn thing.
With No. 1 Michigan’s 86-78 win over No. 8 LSU on Monday night, it means they’re the last team standing after No. 2 Alabama routed No. 10 Maryland, 96 - 77, in their second-round matchup.
The conference with the number 10 in its name had nine teams in the tournament and is already down to one. Besides the losses to Michigan State and Maryland, here’s how the rest of the conference fared:
- No. 2 Ohio State lost to No. 15 Oral Roberts 75-72 in overtime of the first round
- No. 4 Purdue fell to No. 13 North Texas 78-69 in round one
- No. 1 Illinois got throttled by No. 8 Loyola 71-58 in the second round
- No. 9 Wisconsin was sent home by No. 1 Baylor 76-63 in round two
- No 10 Rutgers lost to No. 2 Houston 63-60 on Sunday
- No. 2 Iowa got dismantled by No. 7 Oregon 95-80 on Monday
Bilas is wrong. The word to describe this is “pathetic.” A week ago, we wondered if this was going to be the year that the Big Ten finally broke through, given that it’s been 21 years since a team from the conference has won the NCAA Tournament when the Spartans did it in 2000. Since then, the Big Ten has made 16 Final Four appearances. The Wolverines are the conference’s only hope to make it to 17.
Since 2011, the highlight of the beginning of the college basketball season has been the Championship Classic, an annual series that sees four of the top programs in the country in Duke (ACC), Kentucky, (SEC), Kansas, (Big 12), and Michigan State (Big Ten) play each other in three-year rotations.
Well, since it’s supposed to be an event for “champions,” I think it’s time for the Big Ten to be removed.