I would like to take a moment in the middle of the season to thank the Iowa and Iowa State men's basketball teams.
As someone who has covered college basketball in Iowa for many moons. I've passed a lot of highway markers and crossed a lot of patches of slush to see games that were great, good, fair and unwatchable. I like basketball. I love it when it's played well, which to me means good offensive execution and a quick tempo. In other words, showcasing skills and athleticism.
Iowa State is an aggressive offensive team, one that is ranked fifth in NCAA scoring with 84.1 points per game. Iowa easily leads the Big Ten in points per game in league play with 78.2, and is ninth nationally in all games with 83.6.
I've spent a few seasons in the not-so-distant past watching muddy, tiresome basketball from the Cyclones and Hawkeyes. Thankfully, Drake bailed out the state in 2008, and Northern Iowa took the reigns in 2009 and 2010 when the state put a stranglehold on the Missouri Valley Conference title for three years.
The Big Ten still has too many games that are hard on the eyes. There have been 13 games in league play that had 115 points or less. That's awful. The latest was Wednesday night when Illinois won at Minnesota, 62-49, It was the 11th time this season a Big Ten team was held under 50 points in a conference game.
Iowa and Purdue are the only teams that have been in no such game, although the Boilermakers get an asterisk for their 67-49 loss to Ohio State on Feb. 8. Iowa's lowest-scoring game in Big Ten play is 67 points, and it hasn't been in a league game that had less than 124.
The Big 12 has had just three games with under 115 points. All involved TCU, which was the loser each time. Iowa State's lowest-output in a Big 12 game is 70 points. Works for me.
Here is the list of the Big Ten's 13 atrocities so far this season:
Jan. 12: Northwestern 49, Illinois 43
Jan. 15: Michigan State 54, Northwestern 40
Jan. 18: Northwestern 54, Indiana 47
Jan. 23: Penn State 58, Nebraska 54
Jan. 26: Indiana 58, Illinois 48
Jan. 30: Penn State 60, Indiana 55
Feb. 1: Northwestern 55, Minnesota 54
Feb. 2: Indiana 63, Michigan 52
Feb. 8: Nebraska 53, Northwestern 49
Feb. 15: Ohio State 48, Illinois 39
Feb. 16: Nebraska 60, Michigan State 51
Feb. 16: Minnesota 54, Northwestern 48
Feb. 19: Illinois 62, Minnesota 49
By the way, 25-1 Syracuse plays games like this a lot. Its last four games had 114 points or less in regulation. Wednesday, the Orange suffered their first loss of the season, 62-59 in overtime to Boston College. It was 50-50 at the end of regulation.
I'd just as soon not see Syracuse in the Final Four with that kind of basketball, thanks.