THE BIG 10: THE CONFERENCE THAT KEEPS ON GIVING (GREAT BASKETBALL THAT IS)

A BIG TEN THANKSGIVING

On ESPN it was FEAST WEEK…. that time of year when the Thanksgiving holiday arrives, people are on vacation visiting families and if they love hoops then they love what is usually on the television…..  great college basketball matchups!

How did we get FEAST WEEK for college basketball?  It started like this.

Here’s the story. A few centuries ago some people came across the ocean to be able to express personal freedoms that they were unable to find in the days of really old England. So let’s see what happened because of that great risk of navigation:

  1. People called Puritans (later Pilgrims) cross the Atlantic Ocean on a ship to escape religious persecution..
  2. Puritans establish colony at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.
  3. Puritans celebrate living in land of freedom to express themselves.
  4. Puritans establish friendly relations with Indians. First Thanksgiving celebrated.
  5. Massachusetts colony established.
  6. Boston Tea Party and Massachusetts colony rebels to become part of a new nation.
  7. New nation invents basketball!

Ok….so  you know we call that our Thanksgiving Fast Break…..but all the more reason why we should celebrate the Pilgrims! If no Pilgrims come across to establish Massachusetts, Massachusetts doesn’t invent basketball and we great American citizens of today have no FEAST WEEK to watch on tv! So yes we have much to be thankful for!

Ok… so that may be a little over the top.  Big 10 fans had much to be thankful for this week though.

The Big Ten as a  conference went 17-6 and saw some programs keep an undefeated record heading into the last week of November.

As of this writing today, the Big Ten is able to boast of 5 programs with undefeated records: Maryland, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota.

It also can boast of having 7 programs with just one loss early in the season: Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern and Rutgers.

Penn State and Illinois round out the bottom two with 2 and four losses respectively.

How does this stack up with the rest of the nation’s preeminent conferences? As of now the ACC has 4 unbeatens (Virginia, Pittsburgh, NC State, Virginia Tech). Had Duke not had an early top 5 matchup with Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational then they would probably be a 5th unbeaten to come from the conference. Out of the SEC, everyone in the conference has been beat at least once. In the Big 12, teams such as Kansas, Kansas State and Texas Tech are the only ones without a blemish on their record.

There is that one intangible though with all of these stats. No conference games have yet to begun and some of the top teams in the nation have not played as many cupcakes as its other conference colleagues.

So to say that the Big 10 is one of the best conferences in the country at this point may be a bit premature….but one thing is for certain. The Big Ten does have some power teams just waiting to show that they are the real deal.

Teams such as:

Michigan Wolverines – Defeated the Providence Friars and Chattanooga Mocs in pretty convincing fashion. In their early showing, Michigan is showing people that the Big 10 Championship may run through Ann Arbor before it ever goes through East Lansing and Columbus. And the person defending the castle in Ann Arbor, Ignas Brazdeikis who had 37 against Providence and is showing game in and game out that he may not be in the running for conference player of the year but also could be one of the Big 10’s best NBA draft lottery picks simply because of this great interior play.

Michigan State Spartans – The Spartans totally dismantled the Golden Eagles of Tennesse Tech by 68 points then wrapped up the week by taking down two big non conference foes in PAC 10 conference Top 25 team UCLA led by former Big 10 great Steve Alford and Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns from the Big 12. Tom Izzo is definitely preparing his team for the conference schedule with a good mix of weak to strong teams. From the looks of it all, whoever wins the state of Michigan this year between the Wolverines and the Spartans could not just mean bragging rights for the state but bragging rights for the entire conference ……in becoming conference champions.

Teams like Wisconsin, Purdue and Ohio State (teams also in the running for contenders to the title) took one on the chin this week. Both Wisconsin and Purdue fell to a couple teams from the one of the nation’s best basketball conferences in the ACC as they both lost games to teams from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Purdue lost a tough close game to Buzz Williams and the Virginia Tech Hokies but these are not your granddaddy’s Hokies. Buzz Williams, formerly from New Orleans and Marquette, has taken the Hokies from the basement to house in the suburbs with eyes on obtaining a penthouse in the future. For the Boilermakers to lose to the Hokies in a close one is no disrespect to Purdue…..Boilermaker fans should be excited for the Hokies should be a NCAA tourney participant come March.

As for the Badgers of Wisconsin, they only managed to score 45 against Tony Bennett and the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavaliers only scored in the 50’s themselves but you have to remember….these are the same Cavaliers who last year were a number one seed in the NCAA tourney. Now while they may have fell short to the magic of March Madness in the first round, I would guarantee these Cavaliers are playing with eyes wide open. While the people in Madison may not be happy with the showing versus the Cavs, the fans should also remember that it is still early and the Cavs are a quality team. The Badgers should only get better as the year progresses.

So to recap the week, Ann Arbor and East Lansing are doing everything possible to show the world that when the Wolverines and Spartans hook up for that first meeting, sparks are going to fly in the Land of the Lakes. As for the land around Ann Arbor and East Lansing, the cities of Madison, Columbus and West Lafayette are just laying in wait to prove their worth and make a run at the Big 10 title themselves.

Conference matchups are on the horizon and for a lot of people in the Big 10, these matchups are going to be Christmas come early. The Big 10 Conference is getting ready to give thanks in a way not seen in a while…… Wolverines, Spartans and pumpkin pie!   Happy Thanksgiving!

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