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Big Ten Power Rankings; Spinal Tap Edition

We are Spinal Tap from the UK - you must be the USA! 
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We are Spinal Tap from the UK - you must be the USA! via

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

Most other conferences with a 10 in the name have just ten schools. You have ten teams in football, ten in basketball, where do you go from there? In the Big Ten, we go to eleven. Unless we expand, in which case we will be twelve, but that's nitpicking isn't it? After a big week in conference play, it's time to put the eleven in order. So, in honor of all the nameless drummers from over the years, let's rank the Big Ten. Hello Cleveland!


1) Purdue; 20-3 (8-3)

Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported.

This was a team that spontaneously combusted with a midseason three game losing streak, sparked by a loss at the Kohl Center. For some reason, Purdue played terribly for 3 straight games, and lost all momentum as Michigan State pulled away and built a huge lead in the conference. In a desperate game at Illinois, Purdue bounced back and found a great bench contributor in John Hart. Purdue is in good shape for tiebreakers, and gets Michigan State and Illinois at home down the stretch. The last away game against the top tier of the Big Ten is Ohio State next week. Should the Boilermakers win that game, the conference is theirs for the taking.

2) Michigan State; 19-6 (9-3)

Nigel: This is my exact inner structure, done in a tee shirt. Exactly medically accurate. See?
Marty: So in other words if we were to take all your flesh and blood...
Nigel: Take them off. This is what you'd see.
Marty: It wouldn't be green though.
[Nigel points at Marty]
Nigel: It is green. You see how your blood looks blue.
Marty: Yeah, well that's just the vein. That's the color of the vein. The blood is actually red.
Nigel: Oh then, maybe it's not green. Anyway this is what I sleep in sometimes.

Michigan State has had their flesh and blood pulled off in the past 2 weeks. They lost a huge piece of their team when Kalin Lucas went down with an ankle injury at the start of a tough schedule which saw them go on a 3 game skid. This merely dropped them from unbeaten in the conference, and they are still in control of their own destiny. They have a tough road ahead, with a road to Purdue and hosting Ohio State but Kalin Lucas is looking better with every game, and there is a bit of time between then and now. They still have plenty of chances to make up for this recent streak of struggling and pull off some other teams flesh and blood to see what color lies beneath. Let's just hope for our sake it isn't gold and black.

3) Ohio State; 19-6 (9-3)

Marty: It's a, it's a bit of a departure from the kind of thing you normally play.
Nigel: Yeah, it's part of a...trilogy really, a musical trilogy I'm doing... in... D minor, which I always find is really the saddest of all keys really. I don't know why, but it makes people weep instantly, you play a..baaaaa...baaaaaa it's a horn part.
Marty: It's very pretty.
Nigel: ...baaaa, baaaaa, yeah, just simple lines intertwining, you know very much like, I'm really influenced by Mozart and Bach, it's sort of in between those, really, it's like a Mach piece really, it's...
Marty: What do you call this?
Nigel: Well, this piece is called "Lick My Love Pump".

Ohio State also controls their own destiny in the Big Ten and has one of the tougher schedules of the top tier teams remaining. The Buckeyes host Purdue next week in a game with huge conference implications. They must also travel to Michigan State and play Illinois twice. Those three teams are the trilogy that Ohio State must overcome to win the conference. They have the upper hand over Purdue with their win in Mackey in January and a chance to deal another blow to the Boilermakers at home, but they must also go to East Lansing. That will not be a picnic, against a revitalized and rested Kalin Lucas. With Evan Turner, this team can beat anyone in the conference, making the top 3 a game of rock-paper-scissors that likely won't be settled until the Big Ten Tournament.

4) Wisconsin; 18-6 (8-4)

Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation.

No question, Wisconsin's loss to Illinois seriously damaged their chances of winning the Big Ten. The Badgers are already done playing against the top 5 teams in the conference, with the exception of a game at Illinois for a chance at revenge against the Illini. All the Badgers need to do is hope that everyone on top of them drops a game or two while they coast through the bottom half of the Big Ten and they are right back in the title race. As Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan State demolish each other Wisconsin can simply take care of business and be the one left standing when the dust settles. They do have to figure out the Illini before that season ending visit to Champaign.

5) Illinois; 17-8 (9-3)

Artie: [after nobody turns up, at an album-signing promotion] You know what I want you to do? Will you do something for me?
David: What?
Artie: Do me a favor. Just kick my ass, okay? Kick this ass for a man, that's all. Kick my ass. Enjoy. Come on. I'm not asking, I'm telling with this. Kick my ass.

That was a mighty impressive win for the Illini last night. The Kohl Center is one of the toughest places to play in the country. Still, Illinois' remaining schedule is insane. They have 2 away games against Purdue and Ohio State, and they have to host Ohio State and a Wisconsin team out for revenge. Their record is slightly inflated because they haven't played most of the better teams in the Big Ten, but they have proved they can compete. I hope this Illinois team likes pain, because they have a lot of ass kickings coming.

6) Northwestern; 16-8 (5-7)

Nigel: The sustain, listen to it.
Marty: I don't hear anything.
Nigel: Well you would though, if it were playing.

The only thing that is going to be sustaining is Northwestern's streak of NCAA snubs. Their schedule isn't too bad for the rest of the season, but they are going to have problems if they don't play. Much like last night when the team stayed in Evanston when the game happened to be in Iowa City. This team has a lot of work to do in order to make the dance, including an upset or two in the Big Ten tournament, but any more performances like last night will punch their ticket to the NIT.

7) Minnesota; 14-9 (5-6)

David: I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem may have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object.
Ian: I really think you're just making much too big a thing out of it.
Derek: Making a big thing out of it would have been a good idea.

This was a team that seemed like a hard game. They have a good coach, lots of talent, and a serious home court advantage. All that seemed bigger than it was. The only way this Minnesota team is making the tournament is by pulling the upset of a lifetime and winning out in the Big Ten tournament. They just got crushed by the dwarf that is Michigan at home. Any outside chance they had at the postseason is gone. Even winning out at this point wouldn't make a serious case for March Madness with all the bad losses they have.

8) Michigan; 12-12 (5-7)

David: He died in a bizarre gardening accident...
Nigel: Authorities said... best leave it... unsolved.

Michigan has been a mystery all season. This was a team that was ranked in the preseason. They have, by all accounts, two of the best players in the conference with DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris. Personally, I didn't think they deserved their preseason ranking, but I had guessed they would have been a bubble team at worst. Next year is definitely going to be worse when they lose Sims to graduation. Harris will probably stick around for his senior season to try and get a good year in before he graduates, but this Michigan team is best left unsolved.

9) Indiana; 9-14 (3-8)

Bobbi: You put a greased naked woman on all fours with a dog collar around her neck, and a leash, and a man's arm extended out up to here, holding onto the leash, and pushing a black glove in her face to sniff it. You don't find that offensive? You don't find that sexist?
Ian: This is 1982, Bobbi, c'mon!
Bobbi: That's right, it's 1982! Get out of the '60s. We don't have this mentality anymore.
Ian: Well, you should have seen the cover they wanted to do! It wasn't a glove, believe me.

Indiana is not a good team this year, but you should've seen the team they wanted to have with Kelvin Sampson. Indiana has shown flashes of brilliance this year, and next year they will be greatly improved. Tom Crean is doing a great job rebuilding that program from the shambles that it was when he arrived. I know that IU fans have been less than patient with Crean, calling for him to be fired for not taking this team right back to the NCAA tournament, but given some time Indiana will be back to playing for the Big Ten championship soon.

10) Iowa; 9-16 (3-9)

I miss you too, darling...uhm, not too well, actually... well, we've got some cancellations, that's all, we got to Memphis, and there is no gig in Memphis and we find out that this, this promoter in the Mid-West uhh has pulled out St. Louis, and Kansas City, and uh... oh Des Moines... I don't know, it's in Indiana or something...

Iowa is a mess on the court and off. I don't think Lickliter will be around the program too much longer, since his players that do stick around have been underperforming. The rumor over at Black Heart Gold Pants is that more players might be headed out the door. Iowa is going to need a rebuild, and I think most Iowa fans would rather see it happen sooner than lose any more young talent. More players leaving means that it is going to be harder to attract young talent to Iowa, wherever that is. Only 9 more months until football, Hawkeye faithful!

11) Penn State; 8-15 (0-11)

The review for "Shark Sandwich" was merely a two word review which simply read "Shit Sandwich."

I have reached the point with the Nittany Lions that I reached with the Detriot Lions a few years ago. I don't want to see them go winless in the conference, so I am merely rooting for them out of pity. I feel bad for Talor Battle. He is a great player who was cursed with a terrible situation. This is program with another embattled coach, at a school where basketball is sort of an afterthought. They are nearly an embarrassment to the conference, with losses to UNC-Wilmington and Tulane. The best moment of the Lions' season has been taking Wisconsin to overtime before the Badgers pulled away to win by 8.

I hope everyone enjoys Valentine's Day weekend, and I'll leave you with some words to live by.

Have... a good time... all the time.

-Viv Savage