We’re back. No, really, I swear! My last week was filled with travel delays trying to get home from Vegas, followed by the inevitable 250,342,159.84 email backlog, followed by me coming down with a sinus infection/cold from Hell leaving me out of commission Friday (woo, 3-day weekend! Wait, no, God no). Anywho, you don’t care about my sorry excuses, you care about my “opinion” on how your team’s stock is doing. Well, let’s just take a glance, shall we?
Purdue Boilermakers – Since exorcising some demons at Crisler Arena, the Boilers have decided to take some souls along with them, crushing Minnesota into a pulp (thanks for the cover), bludgeoning Wisconsin, and raining threes upon Iowa. Everyone knew Purdue was still going to be good, but to be in the conversation for a 1-seed? That’s just blowing expectations out of the water. My buddies have started freebasing the black-and-gold kool-aid powder and are already talking about San Antonio. Too soon?
Ohio State Buckeyes - If we’re handing out midseason awards, Chris Holtmann should be a shoe-in for Coach of the Year. The Buckeyes have been the absolute surprise of the season, going 8-0 thus far. They’ve dispatched rutger, kept Northwestern at arm’s length, and took care of train-wreck Minnesota. People are starting to take notice and buy in. That meeting on Feb. 7 in West Lafayette is looming large.
Michigan Wolverines – I’m going to give Michigan the benefit of the doubt this time around. Getting blown out at Nebraska was not a good look. That said, Michigan went into East Lansing and knocked off a Top 10 team (and gave me another cover), thereby getting a signature win and helping their case come selection time. They also edged Maryland and took care of rutger.
Nebraska Cornhuskers – Nebraska’s a team that’s trending up. Despite the overtime loss at Penn State and winning ugly against Wisconsin and Illinois (overcoming a four-point backbreaker? That’s impressive), you invited Michigan into your house and smacked them. You’ve snuck into the mid-60s RPI-wise and got a “signature” win in the process. These will help your case for a bubble bid in a few weeks.
Indiana Hoosiers – Given the relative lack of expectations, I’m going to give you some credit here. Yes, you just got blown the frack out at the expense of an angry Michigan State team. However, prior to that, you exceeded some expectations by beating some teams that were supposedly above you. You’re definitely going to be sacrificed by deeper teams, but you’re looking kind of scrappy at this point, and that’s not a bad thing in this ugly duckling conference.
Maryland Terrapins – Despite what I read from DJ on the writer’s Slack channel and additional input from our shootyhoops historian, ziowa, I’m not entirely down on Maryland. Yes, they’re 4-4 in B1G play, but if you look at who they’ve lost to, it’s the top four in the conference. You’re kind of like mid-2000’s Purdue football. Beat who you should, lose to who should. We’ll see if the trend holds at dis-Assembly Hall.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights – Damnit, rutger, you’re doing things again. You pushed Michigan State to overtime in the headscratcher of the year, and blew out Iowa to get your second B1G ‘W’ of the year. I’m recovering from a cold, stop making me sick. Again. Please note: You’re still in penny stock status.
Wisconsin Badgers – You pretty much hit rock bottom after losing at Nebraska and getting smacked by Purdue. You took your frustrations out on pesky but downtrodden Illinois and got an easy 25-point win. You hold on for now, but the Top 4 streak is likely done.
Penn State Nittany Lions – It's looking like another coulda, shoulda, woulda year. Sorry Nits fans, it’s not happening this year. The loss at Northwestern wasn’t terrible, but losing to Minnesota? At Home? Woof. You’re in spoiler mode at this point.
Northwestern Wildcats – I’m leaving you at hold right now because you confuse me. There’s the 20-point blowout loss where you straight out looked terrible (thanks for the easy bet, BTW), the loss to Ohio State where you couldn’t quite close the gap, and then you beat Penn State. On second thought, you’re falling and it’s not The Year again.
Michigan State Spartans – Well, that was a rough stretch, wasn’t it? You did your best to almost lose to rutger, then let your in-state rival come in and gut punch you (thanks, I won that bet as well). Yes, you took your frustrations out on Indiana and poor Illinois is probably next, but given where I, and much of the country, had you just a couple of weeks ago, you’re not in a good spot being two down in loss column to Purdue and Ohio State.
Iowa Hawkeyes – You lost to rutger. Never lose to rutger. Purdue decided this was worthy of having your soul taken and bombed you from long range to do so. Outside of beating Illinois, you have shown me nothing. (Also, sorry about Garza's nose.)
Illinois Fighting Illini – Moral victories are the closest you get to having nice things. Good luck against Michigan State.
Minnesota Golden Gophers – I feel like I should just take your listing away. Yeah, you beat Penn State, good for you. You gave me the easy win in Vegas, thanks for the cash. Your coach is either a sleezeball or completely ignorant. Either way, I’m done talking about you for now.