Welcome to Boilermusings where I take a look at some topics that I don’t have enough for an entire article for but that I find interesting.
Big Ten Champions
Michigan celebrated their Big Ten regular season title recently. Good for them. They survived a gauntlet of a Big Ten and were the, likely, best team. But what I can’t stop thinking about is the three games they missed. Michigan finished the conference season 14-3 with Illinois coming in second at 16-4. Michigan missed three games due to Covid that weren’t made up. Those games were @Penn State, vs. IU, and @Northwestern. Lose even one of those games and Illinois earns a share of the conference title. As it stands Illinois gets nothing. Would Michigan have won those three games? It seems likely. But the fact is we will never know. Michigan’s losses came against Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan State.
This stands as the second season in which the runner-up has a legitimate gripe that they weren’t treated fairly. It comes on the heels of IU being booted out of the Big Ten Football Championship game despite Ohio State not having completed enough games per the conference’s own rules. Were these the right decisions by the conference? In the long run probably but from a fairness standpoint it is frustrating to see two big name programs come out on top against IU football (that was hard to type) and a resurgent Illinois.
Indiana Basketball and Archie Miller
We here at Hammer and Rails had a little fun at Archie Miller and Indiana’s expense recently when arguing for an extension to his contract. It would be great for Purdue fans as he seems to generally have no idea what he’s doing and has yet to defeat Purdue. However, I don’t think the $700+ raised will be enough to extend or buyout Archie Miller. His buyout stands at a hefty $10 million. Astounding. If Indiana doesn’t make a change this offseason this will be the reason.
It’s possible that Indiana would’ve made the NCAA Tournament last year had there been one but we will never know. In order to get to this year’s tournament they likely have to win the conference tournament. I don’t see that happening.
Indiana fans are all over twitter suggesting that everyone from Brad Stevens to John Beilein is just itching for the job. They also seem to think it’s 1986. Until that fanbase gets their priorities in check they are going to be in a Doctor Strangeesque timeloop of hiring and firing coaches.
One Year Ago
Today is the day that one year ago the world started to turn upside down. The WHO officially confirmed that Covid-19 was a pandemic, the NBA cancelled games, and the Big Ten Conference announced that the remainder of the Big Ten Tournament would go forward without fans. The next day the conference cancelled the tournament altogether and things just got more strange from there.
In the intervening year there have been lockdowns, new protocols, and plenty of games without fans. I haven’t been to a live sporting event since January 18, 2020 when I saw Purdue lose to Maryland. It’s been a strange thing to watch all of this unfold from a distance not knowing how things would work out this season or if there would even be a season.
Now that the BTT and the NCAA Tournament have all been moved to one location I’m hopeful that these events can go off without a hitch. Though the recent Duke news gives me pause. Purdue won’t play until tomorrow afternoon but it’s amazing that we’ve gotten to this point at all. All of college basketball and the Big Ten specifically should be commended for being able to adapt with the times and make this season work. It’s been a nice respite from these strange times.