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Dunder Mifflinites Unite to rank the Big Ten


We've all been there...

My wife and I recently discovered the Office. I know it is a trendy show, but we got into it late and have been furiously catching up via DVD. So far we are completely through season 3 and we are eagerly waiting for the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library to get us season 4. After watching so many episodes over the past couple of weeks I felt I had to do a Power Rankings with the show as a theme. It is the first non-animated show that I have done, but so many of the characters have very close relations to Big Ten teams. It also breaks down nicely because we have a clear hierarchy as we head into the final week of conference play.

  • - All pictures are courtesy of NBC Promotions

NCAA Locks:  
(1) Michigan State (23-5, 13-3) - Michael Scott - The Spartans locked up at least a share of the Big Ten yesterday and will likely take the conference crown outright tomorrow night when they pound Indiana. Like Michael, they are the leader of this crew even if they aren't the most qualified. I think Purdue, when healthy and completely on, is a slightly better team, just like Jim would likely be a better boss. Michigan State also tends to stumble and do the wrong thing at the wrong time (like lose to Northwestern at home), just as Michael always says the wrong thing at the wrong time. Michael is at the center of nearly every show just as Michigan State is at the center of every Big Ten venue when they come to town. Both are solid characters that dominate their respective positions.
(2) Purdue (22-7, 11-5) - Jim Halpert - Jim is a pretty non-threatening guy. Everyone gets along with him and he is clearly the most grounded one in the office. He would make a great boss, but he can't quite get the position because of outside circumstances. With Purdue, it has been the Robbie Hummel injury. With Jim, it is the way he won't truly assert himself even though he is very good at what he does. Jim is Michael's official #2 as well, so it fits nicely for the current standings. In stepping away from the comparison for a moment, it will be interesting to see how Michigan State plays Sunday's game against Purdue if they knock off Indiana tomorrow night. With the conference crown already locked up will they rest starters for the rough road ahead in both tournaments or will they play for seeding?
(3) Illinois (23-7, 11-6) - Dwight Schrute - Just as there is some confusion over who is the real #2 in the office, there is some confusion as to who is #2 in the Big Ten. That's why Dwight fits perfectly. Illinois swept Purdue, but one came without Robbie Hummel. That's like Dwight being the #1 salesman even though Jim essentially gave him 25% of his sales in season 2. Dwight's failed attempt to take the office from Michael was like their loss to Michigan State yesterday. They tried, but Michigan State was too dominant in the end. Illinois' hatred of Indiana is a lot like Dwight's hatred of Andy, which will make a lot more sense when we get to the Hoosiers in this poll.

Should be in:
(4) Penn State (20-9, 9-7) - Pam Beesly - Pam is a very underrated character that has been involved in almost every major storyline. People tend to ignore her, but she is involved with everyone much more than they let on. Dwight even gives her a grudging amount of respect. This fits Penn State because they are a team that people think is really on the bubble, but I honestly don't see why. They don't have a horrible loss. They've earned the respect of Michigan State, Illinois, and Purdue by beating each of them (something no one else can claim). They have three quality guys that compliment each other well. How can you not consider them in at this point, especially if they win one of these next two games and finish with 21 wins and 10 in a very tough conference? Everyone likes Penn State, just like everyone likes Pam. That said, do not expect a sudden make-out session between Penn State and Purdue at the Big Ten Tournament.

 Kelly_medium5. (7) Ohio State (18-9, 8-8) - Kelly Kapoor - In another comparison that ties the show in with a team's biggest rival, Ohio State is very suited for Kelly. Kelly is the office chatterbox that won't shut up and not many people like her. If you were to poll Big Ten fans about which team they disliked the most in the conference other than their rival Ohio State would probably lead that category. Ohio State probably stands on some shaky ground at the moment. I would say they are in, but they need to win trickier-than-they-look games against Iowa and Northwestern to finish the season here. They will be favored in both, but a loss in either wouldn't shock me. Kelly could be so much more as a character too, just as Ohio State has enough talent to be more than a middle of the pack team.

Stanleycubs-778725_medium6. (5) Minnesota (20-8, 8-8) - Stanley Hudson - Minnesota has been sliding a bit recently, but I have them ahead of Wisconsin based on a slightly better profile overall and a head-to-head win. As long as the Gophers win one of their two home games this week against Wisconsin and Michigan they are likely in, especially if that one win is against Wisconsin. I compare them to Stanley because they work hard, they don't get a whole lot of recognition, and Stanley has some great moments just like Minnesota has some good wins (i.e. Louisville). Stanley hates Ryan because he irrationally thinks Ryan is going after his daughter, just like Minnesota hates Michigan for no real good reason.

Right on the Bubble:
(6) Wisconsin (18-10, 9-7) - Darryl Philbin - Wisconsin is a very hard team to judge. They have that ugly 6 game losing streak on their resume, but they have guaranteed themselves at least a .500 finish in league play. One more win likely guarantees they won't have to play on Thursday of the Big Ten Tournament, meaning a 3-game run could be in the cards. They fit in with Darryl because they are the blue collar team in the conference. They work hard and are the epitome of a grind it out team just as Darryl is the leader of the warehouse. They also don't care what others think of them. They show up and do things their way, which is also in line with Daryl's character.
(8) Michigan (18-12, 8-9) - Ryan Howard - This is just a perfect comparison. Ryan can't stand Kelly and Michigan can't stand Ohio State, yet they always end up with each other. Ryan inexplicably was on top with his promotion at the end of season 3 just as Michigan was on top of the conference with the Duke and UCLA wins. In season four Ryan develops a feud with Jim, much like Michigan's feud with Purdue over elbowgate. Ryan eventually gets in way over his head at corporate and has a dramatic fall. That is just like Michigan's struggles once conference play started. Michigan is a good team, but I just don't like the way they have finished. Winning at Minnesota on Saturday is absolutely necessary, otherwise it will take a deep Big Ten Tournament run.

NIT or Bust (barring a miracle run in Indy)
(9) Northwestern (16-11, 7-9) - Toby Flenderson - Toby is a good guy. No one respects him and he just wants to leave his job and go to Costa Rica. Northwestern is a good team that few people respect. All they want is one NCAA Tournament berth, but it consistently eludes them. That is their season in a nutshell. They can claw their way back on the bubble by winning at Purdue and Ohio State this week, but they really missed too many opportunities at home. Otherwise, they would already have that long sought after bid. In reality, Toby doesn't mind his fate as long as he can keep Michael in line. That is an NIT bid for Northwestern fans. The NIT is better than nothing, so they will take it. For Toby, his job is better than no job, so he'll take it.

The Spoiler
(10) Iowa (14-15, 4-12) - Creed Bratton - Here are Ryan's words describing Creed's blog, "Even for the internet it's pretty disturbing." I can't think of a better way to describe Iowa's #1 blog representation in Black Heart Gold Pants. Iowa still has something to play for this week. If they defend their home court and seriously damage both Penn State and Ohio State's NCAA hopes, they will go to Indianapolis needing just one win to secure a postseason bid somewhere. That is also like Creed, as he does the bare minimum to make sure he isn't homeless. Scratching their way to a winning record and playing in the postseason would almost be like when Creed fakes his own death and lived off the life insurance payment. Creed also has almost no morals, but that would be a more apt comparison to Iowa's football team with all the rest.

My new best friend
(11) Indiana (6-22, 1-15) - Andy Bernard - I call Indiana my new best friend because they are Purdue's last hope for a Big Ten title. Play hard at home, guys. We need it. Andy is a perfect match for them. I can't stand the character and I usually can't stand Indiana basketball. Andy always talks about how he attended Cornell , just like IU fans always talk about their banners. Both are obsessed with the past. Andy hates Dwight for many reasons, one of them being that he continues to sleep with Angela in later seasons. For this purpose Angela would probably be Eric Gordon since Dwight was compared to Illinois. Illinois wanted Gordon, but he ended up at Indiana. Dwight was with Angela, but she eventually left him for Andy. Andy being sent to anger management for punching a wall has to be the Kelvin Sampson moment of the show. That, and Andy just looks like he would be a self-satisfied IU basketball fan. He probably likes Notre Dame football, too.