Update: Now including Minnesota!
It’s not even the end of January, and nearly every fan of a Big Ten basketball team is unhappy somehow. Except fans of Rutgers and Illinois. And I guess maybe some Iowa fans, but they’re worried about a rough stretch of games, both the results so far and what’s to come. And maybe some Michigan State and Maryland fans who have a good grasp on reality and had realistic expectations coming into conference play.
But other than THOSE fans, everyone is bummed out. Whether you’re a fan of a downright terrible team, a fan of a team you thought was actually going to be great pre-conference but it turns out isn’t, a fan of one of the endless mushy middle “could lose in the R64, could make the Sweet Sixteen” teams, or a fan of any Minnesota team during any season, you’re grumpy. Disappointment is the word of the day around here.
So let’s do what all emotionally healthy people do when faced with adversity: think about other, better times and pretend now doesn’t exist! Even for this fun exercise there’s some disappointment baked in. Here’s the prompt, and you’ll find the bluebooks on the table at the front of the class. Please write legibly.
Pick a season of your favorite basketball team’s from the last ten years. We’ll call this the Still Mildly Disappointing Season. Then pick a player who played for your team within 2 years of that season, and put him on the Still Mildly Disappointing Season’s team too. You could hold onto a graduating guy for two years, take an underclassman season and make him an upperclassman, whatever.
Who are you picking, what team are you adding him to, and why?
(ed. note: These rosters are based on games started, per sports-reference.com)
I’m taking 2016-2017 Bronson Koenig and adding him to the 2014-2015 Badgers team that lost in the championship game to Duke. Koenig was on the team in 14-15, but if I can take the ice water, killer instinct, can also handle the ball Koenig from two years later, I’m definitely doing that.
Traevon Jackson was perfectly fine on those FF teams, but add veteran Koenig to the mix and I truly believe Wisconsin doesn’t collapse in the second half of that game against Duke. The 14-15 team had a lot of really good players on it, but I think we can find Koenig some room and hopefully, with any luck, all our dreams of Wisconsin winning something would finally come true.
MC Clap Yo Handz
I am obviously also picking 2014-15 Wisconsin. The offense is already the best ever in the KenPom era so there’s not much need there, and the team already made it to the title game so the focus is really just about how you can turn that one result around. The obvious name to add would seem to be Ethan Happ at first, but he doesn’t fill a big need in that game. Post defense in that game was great with Kaminsky holding Okafor to 10, and you’re not taking Kaminsky or Dekker off the floor to make room for Happ. Similar reason for not choosing 2012-13 Jared Berggren, who would otherwise bring great post defense.
The key needs boil down to who can help contain Tyus Jones, who went off for 23, or Grayson Allen, who came out of nowhere off the bench to spark the Duke comeback and ultimately the title. I don’t see anyone on the other rosters that would do a better job on Tyus Jones than Josh Gasser, so Jones is what it is. That leaves countering Allen, and while I would love to see 2012-13 Mike Bruesewitz on this team, I think my best bet for the task at hand is a staunch perimeter defender and perhaps the most athletic Badger in recent history: 2016-17 Khalil Iverson.
Also, Winslow touched it last.
Dang, good pick MC. Khalil could have made a big difference.
All Wisconsin fans agree: If we can just tweak the 2014-15 team a little bit, that National Championship is coming home to Madison. Here’s the starting roster for that team, in case you’d forgotten or never knew in the first place:
I’m kind of torn on this one. There’s the 2010-11 What-could-have-been team. With a healthy Robbie Hummel (who was lost to tearing his ACL before the season started) and add in Chris Kramer who had graduated the year before and, my God, the potential of this team. This team had Championship potential with Hummel’s shooting and Kramer’s nose for the ball.
The other option would be last year’s Elite 8 team. If you throw in Dakota Mathias or Vince Edwards, someone with a knack for the ball (I lean Edwards for rebounding purposes but Mathias was a lockdown defender). This is a potential #1 seed to avoid Virginia until the Final Four.
ROW THE BOAT
Fuck off, Slackbot
Yes, for some reason the writer Slack has a macro that shouts ROW THE BOAT any time you type the word “elite.” It...grates. So Bman31 cheated a little and gave himself an alternate healthy universe team, but this is about coping, so we’ll allow it.
Here’s the 2010-2011 Purdue starting roster:
Now add healthy Hummel and Chris Kramer. Natty?
13-14 Nebraska probably adds 15-16 Glynn Watson to aid Petteway playing hero ball. Watson is a better defender than 13-14 Benny Parker - even as a TF - and probably a better scorer than Ray Gallegos. We probably still lose to Baylor.
Yeah maybe you lose to Baylor, but who’s not rooting for Tim Miles to win that game?
2013-14 Nebraska starting line:
Probably Melo Trimble’s freshman year, since Vasquez’s senior year was technically eleven years go. I’m old. The first Trimble year was the best because we were coming off four straight years of missing the NCAAT and expectations were quite stagnant. Winning 28 games and being one West Virginia football game away from reaching the sweet sixteen was a pleasant surprise. I have some fond memories of a lot of players on that team. Dez Wells, Jake Layman, freshman year Jared NIckens. Perhaps Alex Len sticking around for that year would have been interesting, as that was a very guard-centric team. (Fuckin’ Evan Smotrycz). Orrrr Kevin Huerter, the answer is always Kevin Huerter...send in ALLLLL the guards.
May move Huerter to 15-16 team..? Or Fernando? Or move freshman year Melo somewhere
If I could swap coaches with the last coach but keep this coaches recruiting I feel like we would have a juggernaut
I agree with DJ. If you could have Turdgeon’s recruiting but take was a god-awful coaching and replace it with Gary Williams? Maryland might be running this conference instead of hilariously coming up just short over and over.
I’m making the executive decision to go with the 2014-15 roster, which was Trimble’s freshman year:
2011-2012 Northwestern Wildcats. John Shurna, Drew Crawford, Reggie Heard, Luka Mirkovic et al. Bubble team all year that choked in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament against Minnesota, of all fucking teams, and got relegated to a bubble team (https://www.sbnation.com/2012-ncaa-tournament/2012/3/9/2856480/ncaa-basketball-bracketology-2012-bracket-projection-bubble) and missed the Dance.
I don’t know if there was one player that would’ve rescued that season, including the screw-job against Ohio State at Welsh-Ryan where Jared Sullinger shot approximately 900 free throws. But I would take Alex Olah as one extra front-liner to combat that bullshit and bolster the ‘Cats (who, to be fair, did already have Mirkovic and Davide Curletti) inside. Or I’d add Vic Law to that team. Either way. One of those two, that team’s dancing.
Just a recommendation for all you grumpy fans out there. Your team may suck now, but when given this prompt, poor NW fans had to pick a season where they didn’t even make the tourney as the Mildly Disappointing Season Worth Fixing. Be thankful for what you have.
2011-2012 Wildcats Roster:
Dave Sobolewski (MNW how could you give this awesome name an “et al”??)
I’m going to ignore the time restraints just a bit here and drop a healthy, 09-10 Kalin Lucas onto the 13-14 MSU squad, which lost to eventual champion UConn in the Elite Eight primarily because of the point guard mismatch between Shabazz Napier and Keith Appling. If Lucas is on that team, at full strength, Appling can stay off the ball, and those two plus Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, and a young Denzel Valentine might just be able to win the whole thing.
ROW THE BOAT
Somebody take Slackbot out back and shoot it please
I grade that reply as follows: “Well written and argued! You make some good, logical points, and you follow them to a reasonable conclusion. 0/10, please redo and hand in by Friday”
I’ll just appeal to the department chair and become a bigger inconvenience than you’re willing to withstand then
I would like to arrange a meeting as soon as you are available to discuss Adjunct Basketfaculty Member Beez’ approach to grading and class management
And then we talked about small private schools in Madison for a bit, but that’s not getting posted lest the Hillsdale fanatics descend upon us.
So in typical Michigan State basketball fashion, AK ignored the rules and cheated to win. When called on it, AK walked 15 feet onto the court, hands on hips, face red, and screamed at the officials until they relented and gave him every 50/50 call the rest of the
game exam. I think Izzo said it best:
Here’s the 2013-14 MSU roster, and imagine adding a guy from 4 seasons prior:
The easy part of this exercise for me is what year of the team I’m picking: 2012-13, the year Tom Crean couldn’t figure out how to break a zone with the #1 team in the country and crashed out in the Sweet Sixteen as a result. The hard part is actually figuring out which IU player I want to add to that team. I’m torn between three options, but I’m not sure that any of the 3 would have started for the Hoosiers that year. On the “two years prior” side, we’ve got Jeremiah Rivers, who while possessing a very high basketball IQ would have had to find some playing time in a guard rotation of Jordan Hulls, Yogi Ferrell, Victor Oladipo, and Remy Abell. Tom Crean did play some noticeably guard-heavy lineups at times, but this might have been a step too far even for him. On the “up to two years after” side, we’ve got Noah Vonleh and James Blackmon Jr. Blackmon is in a similar boat to Rivers, though he had enough raw talent that he could find a little more playing time (probably). Noah Vonleh doesn’t have quite as much talented traffic ahead of him at forward, but he’s not guaranteed a starting spot either, given that Christian Watford and Will Sheehey are there, with a host of talented freshman and sophomores rotating in during the game.
Man, Tom Crean really blew it quite a few times in his Hoosier career, didn’t he? I assume that he not only lost all his games against Wisconsin in 2012-13, but he would have lost to Wisconsin even with any of Candy’s additions.
2012-13 Indiana Hoosiers starters:
HOW DID THIS TEAM LOSE IN THE SWEET SIXTEEN?!?!? Oh, right:
I’ve thought about this a bit today and was really frustrated, because all of Iowa’s good teams faded at the end Of the season, and I don’t think a single player would have fixed that. However, I’m going to go with with the ‘15-‘16 Iowa team that rose to the heights of #3 in the country before burning out. That team had seniors Mike Gessell, Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woodbury, and junior Peter Jok. That team played halfway decent defense, but the scoring load all fell on Uthoff and Jok. They needed someone else to help carry the load. So I’m going to bring in Devyn Marble from two years prior. I don’t think the team wears down as much with him being able to help in the rotation, and he was a capable enough shooter from deep to help spread the floor.
I didn’t realize until Stew’s very thoughtful answer that Iowa has had a bunch of good-to-very-good teams during Fran’s tenure, but he just can’t keep them fresh and sharp until and through the tournament. Sad(?).
2015-16 Iowa Hawkeyes
Tony Carr to this year’s team, because he was the best player two years ago (maybe?)
Remember what I said about Northwestern fans? Somehow PSU fans have had it even worse, but they don’t care about basketball, right?
2019-20 PSU roster:
Minnesota Golden Gophers
So you take 2016-17 1st Team All-B1G Nate Mason and you put him on the 2018-19 team that had Jordan Murphy, Amir Coffey, and Daniel Oturu and then you watch the fun because the only thing that team was missing was a PG.
I 100% missed this when reviewing the Slack thread. My apologies to the Minnesota readers who rely on my for my integrity. 2018-19 Minnesota lineup:
So we don’t have fantasy land teams for Michigan, Illinois, Rutgers, or Ohio State. I don’t remember when Illinois last had a team better than this year’s, but for both them and Rutgers, I’d imagine they’d take this year’s teams and add whoever the best player from the past two seasons is, just like with PSU.
If you’re a fan of one of these teams, please post your fantasy (within the theme of this piece, please! I don’t want your weirdo proclivities plastered all over. Also no judgment) teams below, or fix what one of our writers said above.
Which fantasy team are you taking to win it all?
This poll is closed