A couple of disclaimers on me being responsible for the Basketball Power Poll today.
1) I am a Nebrasketball fan. As such, I am not well versed in things like, "superior basketball play" and "B1G Basketball history". Specifically, I have spent most of this season pretending that basketball is but a distraction to get me from Volleyball match to Volleyball match (you know, because #VolleyballSchool).
2) I had every intention of finishing this before Michigan State was taken down by Iowa, but hey, whatevs. These votes happened yesterday morning and reflect games played before conference play. Feel free to knock it.
That all said, let's talk some Shootyhoops and Squeakyfouls everybody. The Big Ten has been... not so great this year. With the exception of the top 3-4 teams, it is anybody's guess what is going on. Michigan State has looked good but then Denzel Valentine went down. After needing a spirited comeback against Oakland, the Iowa loss was inevitable, no? Purdue has looked good so far, but the obvious - and fair - questions about schedule come into play. Even Maryland - who is excellent on paper - has had its share of ups and downs despite many people thinking they were a #1 contender early. This ignores the passing of the torch by Bo Ryan, a really sneaky good Iowa, and Northwestern looking like a .500 B1G season could get them dancing. It's been a year, although not one we necessarily expected.
So... let's get to the Power Poll. We had seven voters this week and the scoring works like football does. I was trying to think of a hook for this week's basketball poll and with the new year right around the corner, I figured it would be appropriate to have a NYE Cocktails edition because you all will be getting lit up in about 24 hours while watching football and forgetting about your basketball team. This work? This works. Let's get to it.
98 Points || 7 FPV || H-1 || L-1
You're going out in style this year. A little gin, a little vermouth, and an olive. Sure, you might have run out of the top shelf gin, but you'll get it back in no time next year and you still have enough of that 'good enough' gin to get you through. Everybody loves a Martini and it's a winning recipe. Survive this party with the rough stuff, weather the headache, and you'll be ready for dancing in a couple months.
2 Purdue Boilermakers - Well, the Boilermaker
89 Points || H-2 || L-3
Look, it's been sort of a year for Purdue and I totally understand if you want to just take a shot and chase it with a good beer. In fact, I wouldn't blame you if you tore through a few shots. The flipside is just how effective that can be, which is sort of what you are. Highly effective. There are a lot of talks about this being untested, potentially overrated, and maybe not that good. Ignore that. You're having a good year and so long as the winning keeps happening, who cares what people say.
via Martha Stewart
86 Points || H-2 || L-3
On paper, you might be the best cocktail out there. Lemons - delicious, Vodka - delicious, Champagne - delicious, Diamond Stone - del... Well you get the point. The problem is that it takes balance to get all of these things to work together and I think you're still getting that balance right. Lucky for you, New Years is all about starting over, and not unlike the conference season, it's time to get things right. One part Melo Trimble, One part Diamond Stone, and a dash of Robert Carter and Jake Layman, and you have a winning
drink team. I don't think Mark Turgeon could screw this up.
76 Points || H-4 || L-5
It's been a good year for the Iowa faithful, and they're celebrating the way they should... with a sophisticated drink that screams, "Hey look, we're better than you think we are." Just like the Gimlet is kind of an oft overlooked drink due to its simplicity, the Hawkeyes have generally taken care of business and could be moving up these ranks in the next few weeks. Again, the reality is that this is all about balance. When Iowa is balanced and shooting like they did last night, they're kind of a scary team. They can run, score, and play enough defense to stick with anyone. Sure, there are lapses from time to time, but this is not a place to worry yet. Enjoy the drink and the good vibes.
via all recipes
69 Points || H-4 || L-7
I really don't know what to think of you, Indiana. By all accounts, your non-con was about what should be expected. A couple of close losses against good, not great, teams. A giant loss to a very good Duke. Oh, and the rest were wins, with a couple over good, not great, teams. You're popular enough, probably close to being a Top 25 team, and you have four players averaging double digits scoring led by Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon, Jr. Not unlike the Cosmpolitan, this all sounds very good, but for some reason there is a little hesitation on the uptake. Maybe it's the lack of a signature win or maybe it's the Duke Blue Devils taking you to task, but there's something not quite right. Conversely, you're still popular and if you put it all together, people are going to drink you up like there's no tomorrow.
60 Points || H-6 || L-7
Oh, I see we've reached the part of the conference where we're mixing Vodka and random things and hoping for the best. Fun! But seriously, not unlike the Moscow Mule being a tad overrated, the Wolverines sitting at sixth is probably a tad bit of a problem. It's not that Michigan has been bad either, it's more that they are generally unremarkable. Sure, it's fun to think about what could be in the John Beilein system, and Chris Lavert definitely does not suck, but just because you have a couple good elements does not mean you're something great. Noting, of course, that this is all about to sound redundant as all get out from here.
60 Points || H-5 || L-8
Elegant, expensive, interesting, and has never been to the NCAA tournament. While I'm not sure that fits, the fact that this recipe asks you to add Ciroc makes this a ridiculous drink. Anyhow, Northwestern probably only needs to go .500 in Big Ten play to get their invitation to the Big Dance. They have a good team with a schedule that has setup nicely. Sure, they've not played anyone either, but that's okay. Win and advance. I like what Coach Collins has going with Bryan Mcintosh, Alex Oleh, and Tre Demps. That's a trio that can take you places. Is this just a fancy way of saying this is a worthwhile team? Maybe, but hey, it's going to happen sometime.
49 Points || H-7 || L-9
You beat the Kentucky Wildcats! You also lost to the UT-Arlington Mavericks (looked that mascot up), who yes, might be better than we thought. You're basically a mixed bag with a lot of potential and this weird eggy fizzy stuff at the top. Wait, that doesn't quite work. This team does not seem to have a superstar yet, but there are an awful lot of contributors. I think Ohio State finishes much stronger than they started and with this really soft middle of the conference, who knows where they could end up.
via well plated
9 Wisconsin Badgers - Brandy Old Fashioned (this isn't a compliment)
42 Points || H-8 || L-10
I'm not sure I know why Wisconsin puts Brandy in their Old Fashioned, but it's just not right. Oh, and speaking of not right, the Badgers just don't seem right, do they? Remember that awesome run to the National Championship game? Seems like forever ago now. It's not just that the losses keep piling up, it's also that there isn't really an identity yet. Nigel Hayes has played okay, but not spectacularly. Bo is gone, Coach Gard is here, and the streak of Top Four finishes might be broken finally. Of course, all caveats about a mediocre Big Ten apply.
Sidenote: Brandy in an Old Fashioned? Gross.
via all recipes
34 Points || H 9 || L 11
With arguably the best win coming over the UAB Dragons, let's be honest in saying that this is sort of a disappointing year so far. I mean, you can also say that about most things Illinois so whatever, but there is always a glimmer of hope from the Illini faithful [pours out one for Thumpasaurus's liver]. Here's the thing, injuries are a problem and even though Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill are scoring lots of points, this team is just sort of existing. So why a screwdriver? Because I'm guessing most Illinois fans have vodka and orange juice at the ready. Why not just get it over with and drink the pain away?
The Jungle Juice Trio:
11 Nebraska Cornhuskers
25 Points || H 10 || L 13
20 Points || H 11 || L 13
20 Points || H 10 || L 13
I'm pretty sure these three teams are the same team. Each has played tough against good competition at times, each has some really bad losses, and each has the illusion of breaking through in basketball. Coach Miles, Coach Pitino, and Coach Chambers are good guys - it seems - but their teams are not so good. I mean, good enough to party with, and definitely able to get you drunk or whatever, but this isn't a cocktail. This is a "hey man, let Andrew White, Nate Mason, Shep Garner, etc., go shoot a basket and if it goes in, great," type of situation. Note: I have watched very little of Minnesota and Penn State so who knows, but the few minutes here and there makes me think I'm not too wrong. Now, I will say that each of these teams will claim a Top Four B1G scalp this year. Also, each of these teams is missing the NCAA and NIT tournaments. Oh, and to be fair, I think Minnesota is probably even worse than Nebraska and Penn State, but they're better than our last team...
14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Mouthwash Mojito <- DON'T ACTUALLY DRINK THIS
7 Points || 7 LPV || H 14 || L 14