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The 100 best B1G basketball teams since the B1G stopped winning national championships


Uncle Ned just finished watching yet another B1G school lose in the title game

Football season is over. I’m bored.

Not me. I love college hoops!

I do too. But this is a football site.

I guess you could call it that. But I think OTE is capable of pointless basketball articles, too.

What do you have in mind?

Look. Some of our “readers” probably can’t remember Michigan State winning the national title in 2000. But I’m still one of those weirdos—

Do you mean “sicko”?

No. I don’t. Get the fuck out of here with that shit.

Yikes. Calm down man.

I’m one of those weirdos who really digs the historical angle of things. I’ve been watching B1G basketball for a LONG time and, even without national titles, there’s plenty worth remembering/celebrating.

Okay. But this sounds sincere. Are you sure you’re in the right place?

Well, we can come back to that. But, yeah, given that I’m not leaving the house too much lately, I starting thinking through some of the really good teams the B1G has put on the floor over the last 21 years. Why not rank them? Or at least present them with not entirely random numbers next to their names so all the OTE “readers” can yell at me in the comments about how much my rankings suck.

Hey, there might be potential here. How many teams do you propose to “rank”?


How on earth can you even pretend to do that with any sort of accuracy?

Well, I don’t, entirely. I’ll defend my top 30 or so, but plenty of decent teams have had seasons worth acknowledging, so, fuck it, it’s 100.

What’s your methodology?

Methodology? Do you think I’m being paid for this?

Okay, but why should anybody care about these rankings? You’re just one dude with an opinion?

How long have you been reading OTE?

Fine. How did you settle on your rankings? You don’t have to have a formal system, but there are a lot of ways to compare teams from different seasons.

Fair enough. I combined regular season performance with postseason performance. The NCAA tournament is fickle, so it can’t count as much as the regular season, but, if you fall on your face in March, it’s hard to argue you’re historically great. Nonconference games count far less than conference games, but they aren’t totally disregarded. The B1G tournament doesn’t count near as much as the regular season or NCAA performance, but it’s not nothing, either. Especially the nearer you get to the top. Finally, I try to account for the overall strength of the conference. Put it all together and

Clever. Can you give me some examples so that I have a sense of how you proceeded?

You’re asking me to tell you some of the rankings ahead of time? No. Not doing that.

Okay, what will you do now?

Here are three real scenarios. You can think through how you’d assess each.

  • ‘03 and ‘04: In ‘03, Wisconsin won the regular season by a game over Illinois. Illinois won the B1G tournament. UW made the Sweet 16. Illinois lost in the second round. ‘04 Illinois won the regular season by a game over UW. UW won the B1G tournament. Illinois made the Sweet 16. UW lost in the second round. KenPom has the second place/non-Sweet 16 school ranked higher each year. How would you rank these teams from 1-4?
  • ‘10: Michigan State Spartans, Purdue, and Ohio State tie for the regular-season title. Purdue was a game up in the loss column on each until Hummel has a season-ending injury in late February. OSU wins the B1G tournament and gets a 2-seed. But MSU makes the Final Four. How do you rank these teams from 1-3?
  • ‘14: Michigan wins the regular-season by two games and makes the Elite 8. MSU wins the conference tournament and makes the Elite 8. UW ties for second and loses in the conference tournament semis, but makes the Final Four and has the highest KenPom ranking. How do you rank these teams from 1-3?

Okay. That’s a lot to think over.

And then try to take these rankings and meld them together. There’s no way to do it in a manner that’s completely “consistent.”

Are you admitting that you’re just winging it?

Now who’s being clever, asshole?

Ha! It’s FUN to embed stuff.

Definitely. Anyway, what I’m saying is that combining measures will lead to plenty of opportunity to say that I’m totally wrong, even if people actually read the articles. Which they won’t. So I just hope the comment threads are worthwhile.

Works for me. 100 teams is still a lot, though. What’s your plan?

Glad you asked:

  • 1/10: Honorable mentions and miscellania
  • 1/17: 100-81
  • 1/24: 80-66
  • 1/31: 65-51
  • 2/7: 50-41
  • 2/14: 40-31
  • 2/21: 30-21
  • 2/28: 20-16
  • 3/7: 15-11
  • 3/14: 10-6 (this is the day after Selection Sunday)
  • 3/21: 5-1
  • 3/28: Slotting in 2022 teams.

That sounds ambitious!

Gives me a good excuse to include every school at one point or another.

Even Northwestern?

Hey, they won a tournament game recently!

Okay, even Nebraska?

Yeah, I’m working on it.

Wow, that’s dedication. What about Maryland and Rutgers?

They’ll both have teams in there somewhere. But only for seasons when they’re in the B1G obviously. Don’t come at me with any 2002 Maryland talk. Save that for BTN countdowns.

I wouldn’t think of it. Still, this just sounds like a lot. And 21 years is a lot of time. Do you REALLY have recollections of the 2001 season?

Absolutely! That was a great year. Beside MSU and Illinois splitting the title, Iowa won the conference tournament, Penn State (!) made the Sweet 16, and Indiana was pretty damn good!

Okay, okay. If you want to spend a ton of time on this, be my guest.

And anyway, the list is already (pretty much) finalized. And look for comments from other “writers” either pleading the case for their favored teams or shitting on teams they think are overrated or just don’t like.

Plus, by that point spring practice/spring games will be around the corner.

Okay, but I don’t know if I’ll make it that far.

That’s okay. I DID something in the same ballpark, but in a DIFFERENT vein LAST YEAR, so I’ll probably inadvertently RECYCLE some of the content anyway. Plus there will be plenty of coverage around these parts of this year’s actual season. Anyway, see you next Monday.