By: Mike McCann
In America, we love to overhype things. Take, for example, Honey Boo-Boo, the Mayan Calendar, or any political commentary involving Donald Trump; I challenge you to come up with three more irrelevant things. Sports are no different (insert the Tim Tebow and Manti Te’o jokes here). If you watch Sportscenter, you are likely to receive a daily update on the soap opera that is the Los Angeles Lakers. It makes no sense, but ESPN continues to show it because Americans love the story. The true sports fans couldn’t care less if Dwight Howard “wants” to play with Kobe, but true sports fans don’t always signal ratings.
During college football season, most analysts rant and rave about how superior the SEC is to everybody else. Fine, you win seven straight national championships as a conference, you can force people to listen to how great you really are. The SEC’s domination of college football is one of the few things that is probably not overhyped; it’s warranted. And as hard as it is to compare between sports, Big Ten basketball is right there with it.
Last night, Michigan beat Ohio State in one of the better games of the season. Last Saturday, Indiana beat Michigan. Before that it was Indiana beating Michigan State, Michigan State beating Ohio State, and Ohio State beating Michigan. If you tried to say which of those four teams is the best, based on who the other has beaten, you’d have one of the longer run-on sentences ever created. Mary Poppins would be proud. But no matter how you shake it, the Big Ten is supercalifragilisti….you get the point.
Now, college basketball predictions in February are maybe the only thing less relevant than the threesome that began this article. Anything can happen between now and selection Sunday, and if you’ve watched the NCAA Tournament, then you know anything can happen once March rolls around. But think about it for just a second. Everyone seems to be up in arms when there is even the remote possibility that the BCS will produce two SEC teams to play for the national championship. What will people say if it happens in basketball?
Danny Manning’s Kansas Jayhawks are the last team to beat an opponent from their conference in the title game, when they trumped Oklahoma to win it all in 1988. It’s been twenty-four years…it’s been two in college football, thanks to the SEC. As I said, predictions in February are useless, so, naturally, I’ll make one: the national champion and national runner-up in college basketball will both be from the Big Ten. It is far and away the class of college hoops. I’d suffice to say that if Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State are all in different regions of the bracket, there is legitimate shot at having a Big Ten party at the Final Four.
I always find it funny when people complain that the SEC shouldn’t get two teams in the National Championship game, because it isn’t as exciting. Yeah, Notre Dame was pretty exciting this year. In basketball, there can be no such argument, though. You have to earn your way there. You have to win six games to cut down the nets, not just one against whoever a computer tells you to play.
When the SEC is at its peak on the gridiron, there is an instant classic every week, whether its Texas A&M stunning the Tide in Tuscaloosa, or that same Alabama team escaping Tiger Stadium with a win over LSU. That’s where the Big Ten is, right now. Every time two of those top four teams go at it, it’s must see TV. It’s likely on ESPN or CBS, likely in primetime, and will likely determine who takes over number one for the next week. So watch next Tuesday, when Michigan goes to East Lansing, and watch when Indiana comes into Crisler, or Michigan State goes to Columbus. It’s bound to be more entertaining than Honey Boo-Boo.