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This article is also viewable at my website theroguehour.
Two big losses Saturday for two highly ranked Big 10 teams, one of them unfortunately Wisconsin.
The 11th ranked Badgers took a respectable (but damaging to their national image) loss on the road at Purdue and 7th ranked Indiana fell victim at home to an off game by super frosh Eric Gordon and a supreme effort by a suddenly resurgent UConn team.
Bad news also because this will give the sports talking heads their cue to start going on their perennial propaganda campaign against the Big Ten saying that it is way overrated and maybe should even be considered a step below some of the mid-major conferences like the Horizon League. They usually cite a lack of wins against top level competition (like always losing the Big 10-ACC challenge) or the conference's record in the tournament as examples (I'm too lazy to look it up now, but I would bet that there has been a Big Ten team in at least the Final 8 of every tournament over the past decade).
I'm not going to try to refute that because ultimately the track record does speak for itself. Even though there has been a Big Ten national champion in football and basketball (and hockey for those who care) there has also been a lot of major chokery by it's teams of recent.
I think the loss of respect has really heightened lately due to Ohio State's recent record in championship games. They have now lost in the last three major college championship games: 2006 football, 2007 basketball, and 2007 football. Of course some people might look at that and say 'wow, they may not have won but their program is on the level where they are playing for the national championship in each of the major sports every year'. Not the national media. Let them tell it Ohio State only showed why there should never be a Big Ten team playing for a football championship. There are only two (three at the most) teams that could ever be considered as elite and two of those teams always have to be Michigan and Ohio State. Those two teams are always padding their records with a weak non-conference schedule and the benefit of only having to play the other conference weaklings to achieve an unbeaten or one loss record.
There's been a real trend since the beginning of the decade that has seen a great reduction in the amount of national respect that the once unrivaled Big Ten conference recieves. Will this trend ultimately result in some kind of demotion? Kicked out of the BCS? Will the selection committee start to grant fewer and fewer at-large bids to where only the conference tourney champ gets in? Something that extreme may be unlikely but I say it may not be unrealistic.