Photo Credit: BTN
March Madness is almost through the first round, and the Big Ten continued to prove why they were the best conference in America this year. The Big Ten might not have the strength at the top that the ACC or even the SEC does, but from top to bottom the Big Ten is the best conference in America.
The Big Ten is 6-0 so far in the tournament with Ohio State and Wisconsin left to play. The conference tied the ACC who is easily the second best conference, and many teams are in the tournament due to their non-conference schedule. The slow pace of many of the teams, and a deep league making for many upsets led to many forgetting about the early season dominance of the big ten.
Here are Non-Conf notes of the notable Big Ten teams
Michigan State: 9-2 in non-conf play, with one loss coming in the season opener.
Michigan: 11-0 with wins over UNC, Florida, and Nova all three tournament teams from top conferences.
Purdue: 6-5, by far the worst, but had an incredibly tough schedule including two true road games one of which was a one-point loss to ACC runner-up FSU.
Wisconsin: 8-3 with wins over Oklahoma and NC State. Two losses against UVA and a true road game vs Marquette.
Nebraska: 10-1, wins over Clemson, Seton Hall, and Crieghton with the lone loss coming against Texas Tech.
Iowa: 11-0, wins over Oregon and Iowa State, both tournament teams from power conf.
Minnesota: 10-1 with a win over Pac-12 champion Washington.
Ohio State: 10-1 with wins over Cincinnati, UCLA, and Creighton all mid-pack or better in their conferences.
Indiana: 9-2 with wins over Marquette, Louisville, and Butler
All that non-conference success led to 8 teams from the Big Ten being ranked in the top 27 of the AP poll, and two more receiving some kind of votes. That is over half the conference being ranked in the top 27 teams in the country. Conference play became a slugfest with many teams splitting games, and losing to both the Michigan schools and Purdue causing many to have lower conference records and people to start doubting them.
The committee, however, does not have conference record nor last 15 games on their sheets, allowing the Big Ten to have the most bids with eight, and Indiana being in the first four out. Many questioned this after watching these teams struggle through conference play, but after watching Iowa and Minnesota both win as 10 seeds, and Purdue, MSU, Michigan, and Maryland hold form (despite Belmont being a top upset pick) one thing is clear, the Big Ten is the best conference in America.
Last year the Big Ten struggled greatly during the season, but all four teams that made it went to the sweet sixteen and the Big Ten went 9-4 in the tournament the best record outside the MVC who only sent Loyola. This year the Big Ten has already rolled out a strong opening, and even if both Ohio State and Wisconsin fall, 6 teams advancing to the round of 32 would be considered a success for the Big Ten. If all eight do that would be 1/4th of the remaining field all from the Big Ten.