Monday was a bad day Big Ten basketball, the latest in a long line of bad days to start the season.
Eleven days into the season, half of the conference's 14 teams have one loss, the highest percentage of any high-major conference. Three teams — two of whom entered the season with tournament aspirations — have two losses. And it gets worse when drilling into the 10 total losses by Big Ten teams.
While many of the 10 losses have come against quality, top-25-caliber teams (Baylor, Creighton, Duke, Xavier and Seton Hall), many others have have come against teams who will be playing in the NIT, if they're lucky.
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First, it was Indiana getting throttled at home by Indiana State in the season opener. The Sycamores — who haven't won a game since beating the Hoosiers on Nov. 10 — shot 59 percent from the floor and 65 percent from deep in a 90-69 win.
On Nov. 16, Nebraska shot 28 percent, were outrebounded by 11 and committed 16 turnovers in a 23-point loss to St. John's. Three days later, Texas Tech stole Northwestern's lunch money, gave them a swirly and forced them to lick a cold flag pole. Yes, the Red Raiders should win 20 games, flirt with the top 25 throughout the season and earn an at-large tourney bid, but this loss is treated like one to a non-tourney team because it was a complete annihilation. The Wildcats lost by 36 points. The margin of defeat was far than their shooting percentage (27).
And then came Monday, when the state of Louisiana delivered two blows to the Big Ten. In the afternoon, UL-Lafayette did whatever they wanted inside the paint offensively (25-for-40 on two-point shots) vs. Iowa in an 80-71 win in the Cayman Islands. Hours later, LSU used a late run to beat Michigan, 77-75.
It's still very early — no Big Ten team has played more than five games — and the conference could move past these letdowns. But as poor as the Indiana State, St. John's, Texas Tech, UL-Lafayette and LSU losses are, the Big Ten's other problem is beating the good teams. Also on Monday, Wisconsin lost to Baylor. Their offensively challenged defeat was four days after another offensively challenged defeat to another top-25 team, Xavier.
Elsewhere, Michigan State couldn't close vs. Duke, Northwestern couldn't beat Creighton and Indiana was walloped by Seton Hall. What is the conference's best win? Minnesota's road victory over Providence? Maryland's 14-point win vs. Butler?
The Big Ten still has plenty of opportunities to pick up résumé-building victories and avoid résumé-staining losses, but the first 11 days of the college basketball season have gone about as poorly as possible for a conference that sent half its teams to the NCAA Tournament last spring.