BOZICH | Louisville can cut the nets in struggling Big Ten - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville can cut the nets in struggling Big Ten

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Rick Pitino has won championships in the Big East, Southeastern Conference and three other leagues. Pitino is the league leader in league titles.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is next on his agenda this winter at the University of Louisville.

But Pitino has my OK to cut down the nets in another league -- the Big Ten.

The Cardinals have already KO'd three Big Ten teams that intend to make the NCAA Tournament this season. That would be Minnesota, Ohio State and Indiana -- by an average of 14 points.

It's been that kind of start for the Big Ten this season. Wisconsin lost its football coach to Oregon State Wednesday, and that was the Big Ten's Most Embarrassing Moment for less than five hours. Ask Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles for details.

First, let's go to the ticker:

Michigan lost back-to-back home games to New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Betty Crocker School of Cupcake Decoration. (Actually it was Eastern Michigan. The Eagles have not played in the NCAA Tournament since 1998.)

Wisconsin burped against Duke – in Madison. By 10 points.

Yes, the Big Ten won its annual challenge against the ACC, eight games to six. But the Badgers look like the league's only possible national championship contender, and they whiffed against the Blue Devils in the marquee moment of the 14-game event.

Michigan State has stumbled one, two, three times. Purdue gave away the lead – and a home game – to North Florida. Indiana and Illinois were both beaten by double figures in Madison Square Garden.

St. John's 70, Minnesota 61.

Eastern Washington 88, Indiana 86.

Northern Iowa 61, Northwestern 42.

Magic Johnson is not walking through that door.

Of course, neither are Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Craft, La Quinton Ross, Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson, Roy Devyn Marble and several others who departed the Big Ten after last season.

Word from the gurus (and the McDonald's all-American game rosters) is that Big Ten basketball recruiting had slipped over the last few seasons. Hard to argue.

Guys like Kentucky's John Calipari (Trey Lyles of Indianapolis; Tyler Ulis of Chicago); Louisville's Rick Pitino (Wayne Blackshear of Chicago, Terry Rozier of Cleveland), Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (Jahlil Okafor of Chicago; Tyus Jones of Minneapolis), UCLA's Steve Alford (Kevon Looney of Milwaukee) and Bill Self of Kansas (Cliff Alexander of Chicago) have danced into Big Ten country and gone home with a 5-star date.

Of the 10 unbeaten teams remaining in Division I basketball, guess how many play in the Big Ten?

Hint: You do not need any fingers.

I'll close with Nebraska, the program that was acting like the Next Big Thing in the Big Ten after the Cornhuskers snuck into the NCAA Tournament last season. The pre-season publications were packed with predictions that Nebraska would finish no worse than fifth and perhaps as high as second in the Big Ten this winter.

Ooops.

The Huskers have already lost three – two at home. I would say that Nebraska fans would be hollering for Bo Pelini's removal if Bo had stumbled the way Tim Miles stumbled Wednesday night.

But they've already driven Pelini out the door of the football complex – and Bo never lost to Incarnate Word.

Miles did, 74-73, in Lincoln Wednesday night.

I obsess over college basketball, but I have to confess: Until Wednesday night, the only thing I knew about Incarnate Word's program is the Cardinals were the only other Division I program to offer a scholarship to Tim Priller, a freshman who has become a fan favorite at Indiana.

Now, thanks to this story written by Lee Barfnecht of the Omaha World-Review I know much more. Incarnate Word is a private school parked in San Antonio, Texas, with an enrollment of about 8,000 students. The Eagles are also in their second season of Division I play.

And they fly commercial.

At early bird, Internet-only prices.

According to Barfnecht, the Eagles had to rush out of the arena after the game to make a bus trip to Omaha because they had a 6 a.m. connecting flight on Southwest Airlines from Omaha to Chicago on their return to Texas. I could not confirm if the boarding passes were A, B or C group.

And Big Ten basketball? It appears to be on connecting flight to a strange and uninspired season.

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