What If?

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The two biggest words in sports are especially loved by one Terry Hutchens

I enjoy making fun of IU Indianapolis Star writer Terry Hutchens, mostly because he is an easy target. I am aware that beat writers often go out of their way to support the teams they write about, but we Purdue fans are well aware that Terry sets a new standard. All you need to do is search the #futurehutcharticles hashtag on Twitter and you will see a list of stories that no one would be surprised to see the Star published.

Even though Hutch is a major reason the vast majority of Purdue fans don't read the star, the premise behind many of his articles is a never-ending subject of hilarity. Last year's "What if Kentucky had missed 14 more free throws against IU" after Kentucky avenged The Greatest December Win In College Basketball History may have been the pinnacle since Indiana declined to play defense that night and the free throws were far from the issue.

In honor of the apologist that Hutchens is, here is every Big Ten team's biggest basketball What If that prevented them from having glory over the years.

Purdue - What if Robbie Hummel's knee never gives out? - Pretty easy one here, so let's dig a little deeper.

What if Glenn Robinson doesn't fall apart in the 1994 Elite Eight? - The Big Dog was a force of nature in 1994 as the runaway National Player of the Year. He was going to be the No. 1 overall pick at the end of the season, so we all knew it was going to be a one-year ride. What a ride it was, too. Purdue was the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Region and rolled past Central Florida, Alabama, and Kansas with the Big Dog scoring 106 points in three games.

Against Kansas he had a monster 44 points, but was pretty awful against Duke in a 69-60. Robinson played and tried to get going against Duke, but had a season low 13 points as Gene Keady missed his Final Four. He was just 6 of 22 and was 18 points below his season average. if Purdue wins that game and Gene Keady finally reaches a Final Four who knows how it tips things in Purdue's favor.

Indiana - What if zone defenses weren't allowed? - I've said it before and I will say it again: Those who complain about a bad matchup in the NCAA Tournament are merely making excuses for poor preparation. If zone defenses were outlawed the Baby Jesus might have actually showed up in this year's Sweet 16.

Illinois - What if we could just recruit Chicago well? - The Fighting Illini are arguably the best program in college basketball without a National Championship, but it has only bread a bunch of near misses and a bit darker hatred of Indiana than even Purdue has. I often hear how the school has trouble getting the top talent out of Chicago despite being the main state school and it is a legitimate gripe. They couldn't even land Jabari Parker this year.

Iowa - What if we never hired Steve Alford - Just go over to my colleagues at Black Heart Gold Pants during basketball season and you will see that they really, really hate them some Steve Alford. How bad is it? When Alford fled Albuquerque after becoming the first coach to lose twice to a 14 seed take the job at UCLA BHGP penned a warning article on Bruins Nation.

Michigan - What If Chris Webber hadn't called timeout? - Well, possibly someone can be sent back in time from this year's National title game and donate one of the two left over. Maybe if you watch a tape of the 1993 national title game you'll see a Terminator-esque lightning storm and a naked Spike Albrecht appear near the bench with the extra timeouts under his arm.

Michigan State - What if North Carolina wasn't so damn good in 2009 - It was hard to find a What If for the Spartans, who have been the Big Ten's premier program for a very long time now with six Final Fours since 1999. Their 2009 team was one that would have been a National champion if not for North Carolina. UNC stomped Michigan State twice at Ford Field, once in the regular season and once in the title game, despite a pseudo home court advantage.

Minnesota - What if John Wooden's phone call hadn't been stopped by a snowstorm - Purdue is not the only coach to lose out on the greatest coach in college basketball history. In 1948 Minnesota wanted to hire Wooden and his wife wanted to stay in the Midwest, but a blizzard delayed Minnesota's call of an offer. Thinking they lost interest, Wooden went to UCLA. The rest is history.

Nebraska - What if we weren't a football school? - Nebraska is only a slight step above Northwestern. The Cornhuskers have made the NCAA Tournament six times, but have yet to win a game once there. They were often as overshadowed by Kansas in Big 8/12 basketball as Nebraska overshadowed Kansas in Big 8/12 football. They haven't won a conference championship of any kind since 1950, almost as long as Northwestern's streak dating back to the 1933 Big Ten title.

Northwestern - What if we could just be the Duke of the Midwest? - Duke combines great academics with a basketball program that year-in, year-out is always a threat for Final Fours and national titles. Northwestern combines great academics with... the worst major college program in America. We'll find out if the two can merge when Duke assistant Chris Collins takes over next season.

Ohio State - What if we could actually play once in the Final Four? - The Buckeyes have dominated the Big Ten of late and have made 13 Final Fours and four championship games in their history, but they have one lone championship, in 1960. As a Purdue fan I can't complain though. At least they won it once.

Penn State - What if we weren't a football school? - Sorry Penn State, you get to share Nebraska's fate on this one. At least you have more appearances and a few wins in the NCAA Tournament plus the 1954 Final Four. On the other hand, Nebrasketball has never been evicted in place of Bon Jovi:

The team normally practices at a dedicated facility within the Bryce Jordan Center. However, for nearly a week in February, while the team was making a run for an NCAA at-large bid, Bon Jovi took over the entire BJC-including the practice facilities-for rehearsals for their upcoming concert tour, which opened at the BJC.

Wisconsin - What if we hadn't taken five decades off? - Dick Bennett and Bo Ryan have developed Wisconsin into a formidable team every year, but before 1994 the Badgers were pretty awful. They won the 1941 National title, but from 1947 to 1994 they couldn't even make one NCAA Tournament. Even worse, they didn't even make an NIT until 1989. There were only eight winning seasons from 1954-1995. They didn't even get their first ever win at Mackey Arena until last season, in the 44th season it was open.

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