Who’s the best hoops team in the Big Ten? We need your help deciding.
Basketball Power Polls haven’t been successful at Off Tackle Empire in the past. That’s not because you all aren’t interested in them, but because as a staff of folks who mostly do this just because we like distractions from our jobs as—well, mostly history professors? When did it change from lawyers?—anything other than sports journalists, we just don’t have time.
So we’re going to give something new a try—asking you all to help us rank the best teams in Big Ten basketball now that a weekend of conference play is in the books.
I’m going to give you a snippet of each team’s relevant accomplishments (courtesy of Kenpom, Sagarin, and Torvik), you’re going to vote and rank them, 1-14, in a Google Form Power Poll, with live-updating results beneath it.
Here’s what we know:
Note: What constitutes a “good win” or “bad loss” here is entirely subjective—I’m not writing up a full NCAA Tournament profile here, do whatever research you want to yourself or start paying for this “content”.
- Record: 7-3 (2-0 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 19, Sag 19, Torv 18
- Good Wins: vs. Kansas State (72-64, neutral court); vs. Notre Dame (82-72); vs. Rutgers (86-51), at Iowa (87-83)
- Bad Losses: none, really—otherwise vs. Cincinnati (71-51, neutral court)
- Record: 8-2 (1-1 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 27, Sag 29, Torv 19
- Good Wins: vs. St. John’s (76-74)
- Bad Losses: none, really—at Syracuse (112-110, 2OT, was ugly)
- Record: 7-3 (0-2 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 30, Sag 24, Torv 35
- Good Wins: at Virginia (75-74)
- Bad Losses: none—though a 20-point loss at Iowa State wasn’t good
- Record: 6-4 (0-1 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 52, Sag 62, Torv 71
- Good Wins: vs. Florida (70-68, neutral court)
- Bad Losses: vs. George Mason (71-66); vs. Northwestern (67-61)—blame Mark Turgeon for everything
- Record: 6-4 (1-1 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 20, Sag 23, Torv 21
- Good Wins: vs. San Diego State (72-58), maybe?
- Bad Losses: none—Minnesota at home (75-65) isn’t great, and both big-time ass-kickings (to Arizona, 80-62, and North Carolina, 72-51) didn’t look good
- Record: 9-2 (2-0 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 18, Sag 12, Torv 12
- Good Wins: vs. #22 UConn (64-60, neutral court); at Minnesota (75-67)
- Bad Losses: none—just whuppins (87-74 to Kansas, 75-58 to Baylor) against the top teams
Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Record: 8-1 (1-1 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 69, Sag 43, Torv 58
- Good Wins: at Mississippi State (81-76), at Michigan (75-65)
- Bad Losses: none?!?!?!?!?!?!?
- Record: 5-6 (0-2 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 128, Sag 141, Torv 163
- Good Wins: none
- Bad Losses: vs. Western Illinois (75-74)
- Record: 6-2 (1-0 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 38, Sag 47, Torv 48
- Good Wins: at Maryland (67-61), maybe vs. Georgia (78-62, neutral court)
- Bad Losses: none—just narrow losses to Providence (77-72, neutral) and at Wake Forest (77-73, OT)
Ohio State Buckeyes
- Record: 8-2 (2-0 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 15, Sag 13, Torv 20
- Good Wins: vs. Seton Hall (79-76, neutral); vs. Duke (71-67), vs. wisconsin (73-55)
- Bad Losses: none—at Xavier (71-65) wasn’t ideal
- Record: 5-5 (0-2 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 84, Sag 75, Torv 98
- Good Wins: none
- Bad Losses: at UMass (81-56)
- Record: 9-1 (1-1 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 4, Sag 4, Torv 6
- Good Wins: vs. North Carolina (93-84, neutral); vs. Villanova (80-74, neutral); vs. Florida State (93-65, neutral)
- Bad Losses: at Rutgers (70-68, lol)
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Record: 5-5 (1-1 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 100, Sag 83, Torv 118)
- Good Wins: vs. then-#1 Purdue (70-68, lol);
- Bad Losses: vs. Lafayette (53-51); at UMass (85-83)
- Record: 8-2 (1-1 B1G)
- Ratings: KP 29, Sag 25, Torv 32
- Good Wins: vs. Texas A&M (69-58), vs. #12 Houston (65-63, neutral court), vs. Saint Mary’s (61-55, unwatchable)
- Bad Losses: error—all wisconsin losses are, by definition, Good
Will this work? Probably not! But vote in the poll anyway (closes at 11:59pm CT on Tuesday):
Big Ten Basketball Power Poll Voting
If you can’t get the form below to work, you can access the poll at this link: https://forms.gle/g1pYkokUvj6qyF9o8. Happy voting!
Got all that? Check the bottom of the page for a live-updating chart or graph or list or something of the best and worst in the Big Ten—it should be live by early this afternoon.
In the meantime, here’s what to watch in college basketball this week—note that there are only a few conference games in both men’s and women’s, as most teams are taking the week off for Finals or whatever. Who knew these kids were students, too?
Basketball Games of Note
Big Ten Men’s Basketball
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Tuesday, Dec. 14 | 7pm | BTN | line, total TBA
Nicholls Colonels at wisconsin badgers
Wednesday, Dec. 15 | 7pm | BTN | line, total TBA
We might have previews, but we probably won’t. Both of these should be walkovers.
Big Ten Women’s Basketball
You would think that, with the conference on Finals Week and not a ton else happening, Big Ten Network would bother to show a couple of its women’s hoops games on the flagship station. Instead, all five of these are on BTN+:
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Central Connecticut Blue Devils (12/14, 6pm)
- Northwestern Wildcats vs. Milwaukee Panthers (12/14, 7pm)
- #20 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Alabama State Hornets (12/15, 6pm)
- Minnesota vs. Ohio Bobcats (12/15, 7pm)
- wisconsin vs. Illinois State Redbirds (12/16, 6:30pm)
Feels like there would be an easily-equitable way to make sure some of these games were more visible, seeing as how on the BTN schedule, the “Minnesota Classic” 2003 Sun Bowl and a Blake Hoffarber retrospective bookend the Gophers’ Tuesday night game, while Signing Day schlock surrounds the badgers’ Wednesday night tilt.
Start both men’s games at 8pm and you can give Rutgers and Ohio State the footprint-wide audience both deserve. Simple.
Give me a call, BTN.
Other Games Beyond the Empire
Monday, December 13
Northern Illinois Huskies (2-6, KP 325) at Chicago State Cougars (3-6, KP 355)
12pm | ESPN+ | NIU -1 | O/U 126.5
This is your Five-Star Sickos Game of the Week, and it’s on NOW!!!
The Huskies, at 2-6, are one of the worst offensive teams in the country (KP 344 in AdjO). After beating a definitely-putrid Washington team to open up the year, they’ve lost to Indiana by almost 40, Boston by 18, and Dayton by 38. Their only other win is a 55-45 barnburner over KP 349 Eastern Illinois. They lost to Missouri 54-37. I played in C-squad basketball games with higher totals.
When we see Chicago State rolling in at 3-6, though, we fuckin’ celebrate. The Cougars, historically one of—if not the—worst program(s) in college basketball history, opened the year trying this revolutionary idea calling “playing a couple home games”.
And it worked.
The Cougars caught D-I newcomer St. Thomas (MN) in the opener, 77-72—to be fair, most of the UST players come from households where they’re taught Minneapolis is dangerous, so being on the South Side of Chicago was a traumatic experience for Kaiden from Chaska and the rest of the Tommies’ starting five.
Chicago State followed that up, though, with a respectable 11-point win over a mid-tier OVC school in SIU-Edwardsville, and a month later did the double over the OVC with a 59-49 home win over Tennessee State. It’s been a handful of road losses in between, but sub-20-point losses at Pacific, Bowling Green, and Dr. Loyola do, inexplicably, count as progress for Chicago State—and a 9-point home loss to Illinois State last weekend isn’t awful either.
I’d tip the Cougars to match their win total from 2019-20 (yes, they went 4-25 then, needing wins over non-D1 programs Judson, Purdue Northwest, and North Park). This might not be a 2013-level season—in which the Cougars went 13-19, their highest total since a 19-13 clip in 2008-09 (one of just two winning seasons in school history)—but it’s nice to see things going right for the kids on the South Side.
UMBC Retrievers at Princeton Tigers
5pm | ESPN+ | Princeton -6 | O/U 152.5
No idea when Princeton became such an offensive juggernaut under Mitch Henderson (KP 71 AdjO this year, up from 89 in 2019-20 and 279 in 2018-19), but you bet your ass I’ll watch it six ways from Sunday. Give me ALL that sweet, sweet backdoor actio—wait.
Rhode Island Rams at Milwaukee
Green Gulls Panthers
7pm | ESPN+ | URI -7 | O/U 130.5
An A10 program heading to a Horizon also-ran feels odd, so maybe there’s something cooking with Pat Baldwin Jr. at the
MECCA UWM Panther Arena.
Cal Poly Mustangs at Portland Pilots
9pm | WCCtv | Portland -5 | O/U 128.5
Watch basketball ‘til you can’t watch basketball no more, kids.
Here’s your thread for the week’s hoops action, folks. Tomorrow we’ve got some recaps of the weekend in Big Ten basketball and more, but in the meantime, get comfortable and let’s watch some Chicago State-NIU together. Have a good Monday.