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Big Ten Basketball Power Poll: Spoiling a Good Walk

Which do you swear at more: Big Ten referees or your golf game? We take a look in the golf bag of Big Ten teams and see which clubs we’re taking along for a 20-game conference schedule.

Except Illinois’s not actually good at this.

Would you look at that—bowl season’s wrapped up, and we turn to squeakyfouls.

We’ve done one Power Poll so far this year for basketball, though we took an internal poll after December conference play wrapped up...only we never got around to publishing it. The inimitable Boilerman was kind enough to provide you his Finals Week Stock Report on December 19, though, along with the first Power Poll right before conference play. Here’s where things stood after the first round of conference matchups:

Power Poll standings taken on 12/7, after the first two games of Big Ten conference play.

This time, in my desperation to do something with these rankings, I kicked around a number of ideas. The first thing I could think of that would be conference-size-relevant? The Fourteen Points. After realizing that any analogy of Brad Underwood to the guarantee of the territorial integrity of Russia and subsequent authorization of the American Expeditionary Force to Siberia would...likely fall flat, I cast a wider net.

But I couldn’t get off 14. Fourteen teams in the Big Ten. “Let’s go to the Wiki page for 14,” I said. In order, I considered “Stations of the Cross,” then “I wonder what Bravais lattices are, then “I could rank the stupid shit listed on this Wikipedia page.”

Then I realized “this article will likely be Michigan State fans bitching about not getting respect and Illinois fan morosely recounting how shitty Brad Underwood is,” and I decided “fuck it, I will pick the next thing I see, and it’ll be good enough.”

That’s when I saw “number of golf clubs allowed in a bag” and got mad, because my fucking driver! Damnit. Who doesn’t have a club or two in their bag that they get so filled with rage at the thought of that they don’t want to drive their cart right to the 19th hole and get so hammered that they don’t remember that 4th attempt to get out of the fucking sand trap on 8 and WHERE’S THAT CART GIRL SO I CAN STIFF HER ON A TIP TO COMPENSATE FOR MY SHORTCOMINGS AS A MAN

...sorry. That got dark. There were eight voters this week. WhiteSpeedReceiver also helped immensely in these descriptions.

#1: Michigan Wolverines — Hybrid

112 points | 8 FPV | H: 1 | L: 1 | Δ: 0

Not the flashiest club in my bag, by any means, but one, like the Wolverines in March Madness, that I keep coming back to over and over. If you’re looking to go long off the tee or just outscore team after team, you might want to look elsewhere—but the Wolverines are playing stout defense (4th in Kenpom AdjD), getting enough distance on offense to make it work, and damn if I won’t be reaching for them in my bracket pool again this spring.

#2: Michigan State Spartans — Putter

103 points | H: 2 | L: 3 | Δ: 0

Ol’ Reliable, until you’re not. We’ve got a love-hate relationship, and while I can count on you most of the time, you’ll up and let me down at the weirdest of times, particularly when I’m doing banking business in Lincoln. But you’re essential to my bag, and like evicting the Spartans from the Big Ten Tournament or replacing them atop the conference, all good rounds of Big Ten basketball run through the putter. I mean, East Lansing.

#3: Ohio State Buckeyes — 5-Iron

97 points | H: 2 | L: 3 | Δ: +3


I’m honestly asking, because it doesn’t seem like you should be good for shit, but yet I find myself going to you over and over and over again. Off the tee when my hybrid’s not working. From the middle of the fairway, even when the distance is a little farther than customary. From the fringe, when I’ve thrown my loft wedge into the lake (more on that later). I don’t get it, but damn if you aren’t efficient in the weirdest ways.

#4: Indiana Hoosiers — Pitching Wedge

84 points | H: 4 | L: 6 | Δ: +5

I know you’re good in a pinch, Hoosiers, and you’ve been pretty solid most of the round, but I know you’re going to pick the most inopportune time to let me down.

#5: Nebraska Cornhuskers — Sand Wedge

83 points | H: 4 | L: 5 | Δ: +2

You come up big when I’m scrambling and need a good defensive save...while I’m not going to you when I need to be aggressive and attack the hole, you’re sneakily efficient, and every accountant knows that you need good, solid defense to close.

Just ask Tim Miles.

#6: Iowa Hawkeyes — 2-Iron

65 points | H: 6 | L: 10 | Δ: -1

Look, if I’m pulling you out of the bag, I’m going for something big and flashy...but I’m not at all confident I’m going to hit the shot and I’m using my backup ball, just to be safe.

#7: Wisconsin Badgers — 70° Wedge

60 points | H: 6 | L: 8 | Δ: -4

Also known as a flop wedge.

#8: Purdue Boilermakers — Driver

53 points | H: 5 | L: 10 | Δ: -4

I mean, you bring the power, but man, do I overrate you every. single. time I step up to the tee. I think “this is the round I’m teeing off with the driver every time, it’s great, Matt Painter won’t completely fuck with his lineups and dick over my bracket,” and then “[THWAP!]” “[THUD]” “You see where it went in the trees?! Fucker took a 90-degree turn on me! Fucking damnit!”

#9: Maryland Terrapins — 7-Iron

52 points | H: 7 | L: 10 | Δ: -1

You do your thing well enough, but there’s going to be a couple massive shanks. Frustration will be noticeable. I’m considering dropping you from my bag entirely, on DJ Carver’s recommendation.

#10: Minnesota Golden Gophers — 6-Iron

51 points | H: 7 | L: 10 | Δ: 0

In reality, I like you a lot more than I’m letting on...because you should be better from distance, but here I am, using you on the fringe and in short-distance situations for chipping.

#11: Northwestern Wildcats — 1-Iron

31 points | H: 11 | L: 12 | Δ: 0

Easily the hardest club to hit, you were once relevant sometime before the Korean War and...well, beyond a flash here or there, or the occasional claim to relevance when some flashy hot-shot decides to show you off, you’re better off left in the bag where I can swear at the others and just hold a quiet, seething reverence for you.

Also, 11 degrees of loft is about what a John Shurna 3-pointer had.

#12: Penn State Nittany Lions — 3-Wood

25 points | H: 11 | L: 12 | Δ: 0

You’re still in the bag for some reason, and to be honest, I know neither why I bother keeping you around or why I pull you out of bag once a year and see if I can hit you. Even when you do make some noise and help out on a couple par-5 fairways, you turn right around and, the next round I play, lose to Bradley. You know, from marketing. That dick.

#13: Rutgers Scarlet Knights — 60° Loft Wedge

16 points | H: 13 | L: 13 | Δ: 0


It requires such a nice amount of touch, delicate handling, and I will inevitably chunk it on a line drive 30 yards beyond the hole, or fluff it 3 feet in front of where I am standing. It does not matter. Every time. There is no in-between. It is just a disaster, and to boot, it’s only ever good for anything short distances from the basket.

Anywho, Rutgers is shooting 47% from two (303rd nationally) and 31.3% (288th) from deep, why do you ask?

#14: Illinois Fighting Illini — The Drunk in the Group Ahead of You Screaming at Every Mishit and Then Lying About His Score on the Card

8 points | 8 LPV | H: 14 | L: 14 | Δ: 0

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports