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Ohio State men's and women's basketball discussion.

Big Ten will dominate the NIT!

Run_Fido_Run's picture
February 26, 2014 at 9:23am
18 Comments

Big Ten basketball has been bizarre this season. As we know, the conference lacks elite teams (Michigan?), but it has five solid teams and is relatively strong at the bottom (with all teams ranked no worse than NW's 123 ranking in Kenpom); hence the wackiness. 

By comparison, several ACC teams look like they could win a national championship (e.g., Syracuse, Duke, UVA), but the ACC also has three terrible teams - G Tech, BC, VT. The riches or rags syndrome is even more pronounced in the SEC and Pac 12.

Thing is, these other conferences will probably get better media spin in March as a result, because they only care about which teams are left standing in the Elite 8, Final 4, etc. No one will care that the Big Ten amassed the greatest collection of NIT-caliber teams in CBB history. They'll also forget when the Big Ten kicks a-- in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament but loses steam in the second weekend.

Is conference depth overrated? 

Unky Buck's picture

This is an interesting question. I'm not quite how to answer it yet. I do know that the more the season has gone on, I've personally ranked the conferences as:

  1. ACC
  2. Big 12
  3. B1G
  4. Who cares about the others...

This is primarily because of the lack of an elite team in the B1G and just the weird year it seems to be within the conference. It's not a vast difference between them but the deciding factor was that lack of an elite few teams where as the ACC and Big 12 have at least one or two that they can hang their hat on. Top to bottom, you do make a good point, but I think you can make the case of Northwestern and Penn St. and being on the same level as the bottom feeders in the ACC.

I do think our conference has teams that are better than their records indicate, but I'm not quite certain that is indicative of being considered the greatest set of NIT teams in the country. And even if it were, does it matter? That's like getting getting the silver medal...

 

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+1 HS
rdubs's picture

LOL at UVA, they are not better than 4th in the B1G and probably further down in the Big XII.  They lost to Tennessee by 35, they lost to Green Bay.  The ACC is not as strong from top to bottom as either the B1G or Big XII and they have benefited from only playing Duke and UNC once.  If they beat Syracuse this Saturday, I might move them to 3rd in the B1G, but the fact that UVA has a chance to win the ACC is a scheduling fluke and a sign that the ACC has only a couple of decent teams.  The ACC is definitely not the top conference, I'd probably put them 3rd.

+3 HS
Unky Buck's picture

Fair point on UVA, even though I didn't even mention them. I'm not even alluding to them being an elite team. But if you're going to point to bad losses, we lost to Penn St at home. That should never happen either. All I'm saying is that there are glaring weaknesses with all of the teams we see in the B1G and the biggest one seen through most of the teams is inconsistency. So with very little differentiating the level of play among those 3 conferences, I went to the elite teams within the conference. ACC has Syracuse and Duke and the Big 12 has Kansas and Iowa St is iffy but some may consider them. 

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OldColumbusTown's picture

I'd argue pretty much every team (save for Wichita State, who has not really had much of a test with their schedule) has taken their lumps this year at different times.  Arizona had a rough stretch right after Ashley went down with injury.  Syracuse was surviving and remaining unbeaten for a few games by the skin of their teeth, then they dropped two in a row (one to BC, who is BY FAR, worse than any B1G team) and almost lost to Maryland to make it three in a row.  I could go on and on.

Nobody's dominant this year, and I'd like my chances with a tested team (which all of the top 5 B1G teams will be) in the tournament under those circumstances.

rdubs's picture

My UVA comment was more for Fido, but then you put ACC on top and so I guess I just picked you to respond to.  I agree the top of the ACC is probably the best out there.  But below the top two (which doesn't include UVA in my mind) they aren't as deep despite having 15 teams (although UNC is a bit of an enigma).  

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Truth be told, I just threw UVA in there, sight unseen, because they're 6th in Kenpom. My gut instinct was to dismiss them out of hand, but I don't watch that much basketball and they've won 11 in row or something like that.

I'm also not sold on Duke, but Coach K won the NC with a lesser team in 2010.

Actually, my Joe Sixpack list of teams that can a NC this year is really only Zona, Louisville, Kansas, and Syracuse but again I don't know that much about cbb.

RedStorm45's picture

Hard to overlook UF and UK in the SEC.

Unky Buck's picture

Well, we're talking conference strength. The SEC is pretty weak minus Florida while Kentucky is iffy (like Iowa St in the Big 12 mentioned in my other comment above). I wasn't ranking elite teams but more using elite teams as a differentiating determination on strength of conference when, for the most part, there isn't much that separates those particular conferences in overall play.

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BucksfanXC's picture

I think MSU, if they can get everyone healthy and on the same page by the tourney, has the pieces to be the champs, but those are all big IFs. Michigan also is built for a tourney run as they can score points inside and outside. Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio State will probably all not make it to the second weekend and if any one does, they'll lose the first game.

I think the B1G will do better in the tourney this year more so than any other year because of the new rules changes and their application so far. Usually the B1G guys get lots of fouls, go into shock and have to change their defense up or foul out real quick and it's frustrating. This year that should be mitigated a bit and I think the B1G schools don't have to adapt as much and will fair better. We'll see.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

+1 HS
Earle's picture

BEE-ONE-GEE, BEE-ONE-GEE!!

SOCK PUPPETS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!!!

TMac's picture

IF healthy both teams from that State up north could make it to the Sweet Sixteen, and then it's just about who they are matched up against. Either one could make it to Arlington for the Final Four. 

Witchita, FL, 'Cuse, 'Zona - are all good, but they don't give me that dominante vibe where I'm sure they necessarily get to the Final Four, after that you start getting 6 loss teams in the rankings and the top of the B1G is in that group.  Conference depth can prepare you, and it can beat you up, I thinkit prepared the Buckeyes for the touney last year, but you still need an Elite team to take advantage of that preperation. The Preperation of a tough schedule isn't going to get a decent team over the hump to Elite. 

+1 HS
OldColumbusTown's picture

First, I do agree with the premise that the B1G will dominate the NIT this year.  Minnesota (if they don't end up making the Big Dance), IU, Nebraska (same as Minny), and even NW and PSU are teams that I believe will thrive out of conference.

My thoughts on the "lack of an elite team in the B1G" are this:  parity has ruled in the conference this year, but I don't know that it is because of a lack of an elite team.  Instead, I feel like the conference is stronger top to bottom than we've ever seen.  It is said over and over again, but the B1G is the most well scouted conference in the country.  There is not a great deal of coaching turnover, and teams are so familiar with each other and what each team wants to do in order to be successful.  There is ZERO margin for error.  We've seen so many "momentum shifts" in teams' seasons this year it is incredible.  OSU losing 5 of 6.  Wisconsin losing 5 in a row.  Iowa has now gone on a bit of a tailspin.  Michigan has a one or two week struggle after starting 8-0, then turns around and beats OSU and MSU (with a loss to Wisky sandwiched between).

I feel like these teams getting out of the B1G conference play will be good for them.  It's time now for somebody to win the whole enchilada and validate just how good the league is.

+1 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

I hope you're right. But conventional wisdom, at least until recently, was that national championship-caliber teams had to have a couple of "indexes" working in their favor: 1. several NBA players, preferably including a lottery pick or two; 2. teams with high efficiency at both ends of the court.

Currently, no Big Ten teams appear to fit category 2. Iowa, Michigan, Wisc excel offensively, but no much defensively; it's vice versa with OSU. MSU probably would have fit this category if not for all their injuries.

MSU fits 1, but otherwise it's not a big year for "studs" in the Big Ten. Michigan maybe fits this category, too. Vonleh is on an NIT team. Petteway plays for Nebraska, with all due respect.

Of course, in recent years, programs like Butler and Wichita State have come close to defying these rules-of-thumb . . .

+1 HS
OldColumbusTown's picture

I do not disagree with your premise.  However, if we go solely off the indexes you mentioned (and again, I totally agree with these for recent memory), I'd say the only legitimate title threats from index 1 are Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and MSU (Payne and Harris).  From index 2, we're looking at only Louisville, Florida, and possibly Villanova/Syracuse/Wichita State, with MSU as an outside possibility (agreeing with you in the injury front).

I'd throw out Nova and Kentucky as legitimate contenders, and probably Wichita as well.  The Shockers have played NOBODY.  That leaves approximately 6 teams, and each has shown flaws except for Florida.

The big difference now as opposed to in the past is the equalizer of upperclassmen/experience in the system as opposed to young, freshman talent.  You get a team with good talent, good experience, who plays well in their system, and match them up with a more talented team, and many times the "inferior" talent wins because their other factors trump the rest.  Butler did it all the time under Stevens, and WSU did it last year and could do it again this year, though they really have not been tested at all and I expect it will end up biting them in the end.

What does this say for a team like OSU, who actually has quite a bit more talent than those teams like Butler or WSU, plus the experienced roster, plus knowledge of their system, plus a coach who has been there over and over?  In my opinion, it means all it takes is for them to get hot at the right moment and we may see quite a run in the tournament.

+1 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

I quickly glanced at Kempom efficiency ratings and the 2014 and 2015 projected NBA draft picks.

I. NBA talent: the top tier is probably KU, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA (surprising), Zona; the next tier of "qualifiers" using this "index" are MSU, Syracuse, Louisville; the third tier are UNC, Michigan, and including a few others like Ohio State (hey!).

II. Offensive + Defensive efficiency: the top tier is probably Louisville, FLA, Wichita State; the next tier are Zona, KU, Nova, Syracuse, MSU.

Combining both indexes, the four best prospects on paper are maybe Louisville, Zona, KU, and Syracuse. We'd also include MSU if they were reasonably healthy.

+1 HS
Mortc15's picture

I do think the conference as a whole is up, as we've seen the worst teams beat the top teams and sometimes even at the Schott, Crisler, Breslin, and Kohl Centers but I also don't know if there is a team good enough to make it to Arlington. I've kept saying that IF MSU gets healthy, they have the best chance, but time is running out for them to get healthy. TTUN looks like the best possibility at the moment but then I think about Wisc and how they're hot. OSU doesn't have consistent enough offense to push them into the elite 8 or final 4 I don't think, but who knows. Iowa shows signs then takes 3 steps backward.

All things considered, I see 3 big ten teams getting to the sweet 16 and 1 advancing to the elite 8 with that 1 then getting beat. As far as which 3 or 1 is will be, anyone else's guess is as good as mine, I just having a feeling that may be the numbers.

Buck-I4Life

+1 HS
Johnny-Shane_Utah-Falco's picture

I actually UVA is a pretty solid team, and a good "sleeper" to pick in the Big Dance.

The Tennessee lost is really baffling, because they are pretty average, (but not terrible). But if you look at the box score, UT just had one of those nights where they were on fire from 3.

The lost to Wisconsin-Green Bay is actually respectable. UW-GB is really good this year. Keep an eye on them.

UVA is one of the best defensive teams in the country and just really solid from the guard/forward position. They also have a lot of quality depth.

UVA is a great team....but, I think the B1G is better than the ACC overall.

The B1G is the #1 conference in my opinion, and has been for the past 3-5 years.

+1 HS
Scarlet_Buckeye's picture

The Big Ten has certainly been a disappointment this season.