Well, the Big Ten hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype. Just ask Ohio State, which was bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by, uh, Oral Roberts.
Of course, good ol’ ORU toppled Florida in the next round too. But that’s beside the point. The real issue here is the Big Ten has been a major disappointment when college basketball season means the most.
Gone are Ohio State, Michigan State (lost to UCLA in the play-in game), Purdue (lost to something called North Texas), Wisconsin (lost to Baylor), Illinois (lost to in-state Cinderella story Loyola), Rutgers (lost to Houston), and now Iowa (rolled by Oregon).
Entering Monday night, only Michigan and Maryland remained as B1G representatives. Compare that to the Pac-12, which entered Monday evening at 9-0 in the Big Dance. Still alive were Oregon, Oregon State, USC and UCLA.
Basically, the “experts” who follow college hoops all season were wrong. As is often the case, programs from the East and Midwest were built up ad nauseam, while those out West tended to be forgotten. Not always, but usually.
After all, Gonzaga has been ranked No. 1 most of the season, and the Bulldogs hail from Spokane, Wash. Not a tiny market, but certainly not Chicago.
A lot of the Pac-12 schools do come from decent-sized markets, led by long-ago power UCLA. But they still don’t get the coverage that, say, an Ohio State receives. For a while, it made sense. The Buckeyes looked like one of the most formidable outfits in all of college basketball. Oregon State and USC? Yeah, not so much.
Or maybe they were, and we just didn’t notice. But we sure are noticing now. And we are noticing them when it means the most.
This is March. This is madness. But for the Big Ten, it’s just been sadness.
“It all hit me at once,” Iowa senior star Luke Garza told reporters, “looking up at the scoreboard and knowing I’ll never wear this jersey again.”
Don’t worry, kid. The rest of your conference pretty much feels the same.