This Year’s Big Ten Success Doesn’t Match 1989… Yet

Thursday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) The Michigan Wolverines are the No. 1 team in the nation. The Indiana Hoosiers were the No. 1 team in the nation. And come Saturday night, those Big Ten titans will clash amongst the candy-striped crazies of Bloomington, Ind., pitting the Associated Press’ No. 1 and No. 3 squads against one another in the biggest college basketball game of the season.

Besides UM and IU, conference kin Ohio State, Minnesota and Illinois have also enjoyed spots in the Associated Press’ Top 10 this year. And just this week, Michigan State cracked a Top 10 list for the first time, checking in at No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches Poll – even though the Spartans lost a game to Indiana last weekend.

Yes, in case you hadn’t noticed, the Big Ten is good this season.

So good, in fact, that on Jan. 16 during ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” basketball analyst Bruce Pearl declared, “I think you have three teams at the top of the league. I think you have Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota … I think those are the top three teams in the Big Ten, all capable of getting to the Final Four.”

Minnesota, currently ranked in the lower reaches of the Top 25, has fallen off during the past two weeks. Nevertheless, the Big Ten still has four of the nation’s 11 best teams according to the Coaches Poll and four of the Top 13 per the AP. It’s clearly the best conference in America.

But the Big Ten still isn’t as good as it was 24 years ago.

Not yet, at least. And it’s very possible that it won’t be at all.

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