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Big Ten Bracketology, Week “Previews”

In which a watercooler spat derails everything. Choc full of metaphors and history and rankings, though, which is something!

WHEN YOU PLAY WISCONSIN YOU’VE REACHED THE PINNACLE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, GODDAMNIT (john groce’s budget only had one $50 gift card to Home Depot please send money)

Did you know Mike Tisdale works at a sporting goods store in Springfield?

That Northwestern is now ranked for the 13th week in AP poll history?

That Maryland is #disrespekted by all you luck #haterz?


Well, that’s what happens when you ask the OTE basketball hivemind to spit out previews. Now, mind you, a few did! But we, uh... we got a little distracted. And damnit, I’m supposed to be teaching people how to read Aztec codices in four hours (yeah. I have no fucking idea), so let’s just get to this.


Ratings and Bracketology Joe Lunardi (1/30) Jerry Palm (1/30) Busting Brackets (1/30)
Team KP Sag. RPI # Reg. Opponent # Reg. Opponent # Reg. Opponent
wisconsin 11 10 21 4 MW Akron 4 W Vermont 4 MW Vermont
Maryland 40 36 18 5 E Vermont 5 E Nevada 5 MW Illinois State
Purdue 12 12 31 6 W MTSU 5 MW Illinois State 5 E Akron
Northwestern 30 30 34 7 S Clemson 7 MW VCU 7 S Clemson
Michigan St 51 40 45 8 S Dayton 10 S Florida 10 W Virginia Tech
Indiana 39 29 79 9 W USC 11 MW Duke 9 E Minnesota (oops)
Minnesota 44 42 23 10 MW Iowa State 7 E MTSU 8 E Indiana (oops)
Michigan 35 33 68 11* S TCU 11* W Oklahoma State 11* S Georgia Tech
Illinois 67 69 50 - - - - - First Four Out - - -
Nebraska 83 85 57 nope
Ohio State 63 58 76
Iowa 91 75 109
Penn State 93 81 66
rutger 129 127 117

Some important points to note:

  • Indiana’s fallen all the way to an 11-seed in Jerry Palm’s estimation, and you have to wonder if a few more losses like these ones to Michigan and Northwestern won’t put the Hoosiers on the wrong side of the bubble down the stretch.
  • Anyone remember that great Vermont team from like, 2005 or something, where they beat Syracuse with just a collection of some goofy-looking white dudes held together by bubblegum, string, and a magical three-point stroke? And then followed it up in 2006 by beating BC? Here’s hoping they get NCAA Tourney win #3.
  • Speaking of NCAA Tourney wins in the single digits, apparently people think it’s The Year. They’re mistaken, but keep on being wrong wich’ya bad self.
  • I don’t know if Joe Lunardi is onto something or on something with his reversal of Michigan State and Minnesota, but I think the split decisions on the Spartans and Gophers are telling given the latter’s collapse after a hot start.
  • Illinois is still in Jerry Palm’s First Four Out. Shame him.



Iowa (12-10, 4-5 B1G) at rutgers (12-10, 1-8)

6pm CT || BTN || IA -1.5

/sees line


But man, you compare those records...what a difference a non-con makes, huh? Anyways, we’ll see if Coach Defense and the Fightin’ Offensive Rebounds can protect the RAC or something against an Iowa team that struggles away from home.

As I was set to publish this, Stew got me a preview. That’s less fun. But here it is:

Stew: Iowa has it's best chance to date to win a true road game for the first time this season. I haven't heard yet on Jok's status, but that could be a huge issue against an admittedly feisty rutger team, terrible though they may be. Still, I think Iowa pulls out an ugly road win.

#17 Maryland (19-2, 7-1) at Ohio State (13-9, 3-6)

6pm || ESPN || OSU -2.5

/sees line


I think DJ was going to preview this game, but then Stew made a crack about Maryland being lucky (yes), DJ noted that they’ve won their last two games by 7 and 12 ("that’s not luck"), and Thump started doing his impression of Chandler dancing at the rest stop while everyone fights because Ross and Rachel have broken up and they’re being the selfish, entitled fuckers they are and trying to buy their friends to their side.

You know:

Thump, as Shelley Winters from The Poseidon Adventure.

Except he’s ranting about Illinois basketball and it’s not fun for anyone.

#10 wisconsin (18-3, 7-1) at Illinois (13-9, 3-6)

8pm || BTN || wi -7

So John Groce has a ladder now:


Thump: John Groce pulled this motivational ploy out of his ass about a week ago. Judging by the first half at penn state, it hasn't worked, but there it is again today.

The shit taped to the rungs reads as follows, in ascending order:

January 24th, 2017
January 25th, 2017 vs (Iowa)
January 26th, 2017
January 27th, 2017
January 28th, 2017 at (Penn State)
January 29th, 2017
January 30th, 2017
January 31st, 2017 vs (Wisconsin)

I’ve got nothing. Good luck, Thump.


Penn State (12-10, 4-5) at Indiana (14-8, 4-5)

5:30pm || BTN || IN -5.5

Aaron Yorke: Back on January 18, Penn State lost to Indiana thanks to a James Blackmon Jr. buzzer-beating jumper. This time around, Blackmon is out with a leg injury and the Hoosiers are reeling after two straight losses, so Penn State will surely triumph, right?

Not so fast! The Lions are still one of the worst shooting teams in the country and will need to convert on some of their three-pointers against an Indiana team that is desperate for a win at home. Thomas Bryant is arguably the most important player in this game since he can gets Penn State's big men in foul trouble and open up some room on the perimeter for Robert Johnson.

#25 Northwestern (18-4, 7-2) at #23 Purdue (17-5, 6-3)

7:30pm || BTN || PU -9.5

/rubs eyes

//oh shit

I don’t actually have anything to say here. The ‘Cats don’t have the size to contain Swanigan and Happ, so we’ll just see where this goes. Come onnnnn, moral victory!


Hi. Do you remember when I say things like "It's not The Year" and just tell you to wait for the inevitable collapse to come around?

This is why.


Michigan State (13-9, 5-4) at Nebrasketball (10-11, 4-5)

6pm || ESPN || PICK'EM

BigRedTwice: Nebraska has proven it can beat anyone (Purdue, Indiana, and Maryland), but also that it can lose to anyone (Rutgers????).

Meanwhile, one of the weirder B1G basketball facts is that Nebraska has beaten MSU three straight times, a streak dating back to 2014. In fact, MSU has not beaten Nebrasketball since the 2012-2013 season.

Can the streak continue? MSU is certainly not the giant it has been for previous matchups, but they're still a solid team, coached by a legend whose teams tend to improve as the season goes on. And you have to assume that given recent history, MSU won't overlook the Huskers.

I expect this to be another closely contested game by Nebraska, and I think they have a real shot at extending the streak to four. Here's hoping college basketball's most improbable streak stretches a little longer.

Do you remember where you were the last time Northwestern was ranked in basketball? (It was only 2009-10, don’t be a dick.)

What former player of your team is most likely to sell you a used set of dumbbells at the local Play-It-Again Sports? (And how do you think Mike Bruesewitz is doing at his new job as a rodeo clown?)

Open thread, usual rules.