Illini Wonk
Sunday, March 05, 2006
  Penn "friggin" State
No. Not in the way you think. Although there is that, too. Illini Wonk said early and often that all the Illini needed to do for a share of the Big Ten title this year was to sweep at home and split on the road. Which they did...with one exception. A loss at home to Penn State prevented Illinois from a share of their third consecutive regular season conference title. Ouch.

But that's not what Wonk is referring to by saying Penn "Friggin" State. Rather, the reference is to what adding an 11th school has done to the conference basketball schedule. What follows is a list of the top five finishers in the conference. The first number is how many games they played against the other four and the number in parantheses is how many of those games were at home.

Ohio State: 5 (2)
Illinois: 6 (2)
Iowa: 7 (4)
Wisconsin: 6 (4)
Indiana: 6 (3)

Because there are 11 teams in the conference, the schedule is a determining factor in the outcome. As you can see, Illinois was the only team who had to play the other top four on the road, three of which they lost.

Ohio State only played five games against the rest of the top five teams, the fewest of any team in the top five. The only team in the top five they played twice was Wisconsin.

Michigan State, by the way, played ten games against the top five, winning four. That's right. They played all five of them two times. So, before you start to believe that Michigan State is a disappointment this year, remember that they played twice as many games against the top five in the conference as Ohio State did.

Oh, and that's why Illinois will likely play them in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday. But, according to Big Ten Wonk, that may not be a bad thing for the Illini.

What's the answer? Who knows? Wonk is simply trying to point out the problems the Big Ten caused when it added that football school from University Park. It's also something you might want to keep in mind when you're filling out your bracket.
Stop whining.
Great point.
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