Big Ten basketball is drunk. Okay, it's not just the Big Ten, as college hoops has been criminally confusing all season. But the conference is serving as a microcosm of the chaos that's been happening all over the country.
Teams ranked in the top five of the AP Poll have already lost 35 times, with 20 of those losses coming against unranked opponents. The Big Ten is responsible for six of them.
Things really started getting messy this month. Penn State (15-13, 6-9) has dethroned both No. 22 Indiana and No. 4 Iowa. Then Minnesota (8-19, 2-13) picked up its first conference win of the entire season by topping No. 6 Maryland. The entirety of the conference standings are in disarray.
Here's what the Big Ten standings look like with just one week left in February:
Despite a fairly definitive top three schools, there's an eight-team race for a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
Indiana currently sits atop the standings despite spending just two weeks ranked in the top 25 since conference games began. With a challenging but winnable game against a struggling Maryland team at home, Indiana -- which has unpredictably played better in the absence of James Blackmon -- could have the top seed heading into the conference tournament on a not-so-neutral court in Indianapolis.
The No. 6 team in the country, the Michigan State Spartans, sit in a tie for the third-best record in the conference with two weeks left. No. 20 Purdue trails a pair of unranked foes in Ohio State and Wisconsin, and the Boilermakers may miss out on a tournament bye. Wisconsin may be the hottest team of them all after completely flipping the script on a season that began with a loss to Western Illinois. Since Jan. 17, the Badgers have home wins against Michigan State and Indiana, and beat Maryland and Iowa on the road.
Still, with top-five team massacres happening country-wide, and the Big Ten knocking itself around, the conference has been able to claim a top-five spot in 14 of 16 weeks. It has never had less than four teams ranked in the polls since the first full week following conference play. Amazingly, 12 of its 14 teams have earned at least one win over a top-25 opponent.
The conference's top three teams (Michigan State, Iowa and Maryland) have each had their share as the highest-ranking Big Ten school on the national scale. In total Maryland has spent 10 weeks in the AP's top five, Michigan State eight weeks (four as No. 1) and Iowa four weeks. They've stood as the conference's best teams for the past two months, but there's a chance none of the three finish with the Big Ten's best record.
Experts in the field couldn't predict what has unfolded.
Seven of eight BTN.com voters picked Maryland to win the conference, all voters picked the team's point guard Melo Trimble as player of the year and Purdue's Caleb Swanigan tied Maryland's Diamond Stone for preseason freshman of the year.
Fast forward four months and the Terrapins wouldn't be a top choice for many heading into tournament time. Trimble may not be in the conference's top two after strong seasons from Michigan State's Denzel Valentine and Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff. Swanigan's season pales in comparison to Stone's.
Hold on tight as we enter March, where as many as seven Big Ten teams could play in the NCAA Tournament, none guaranteed to achieve expectations. But really, what are the expectations for any of these teams anymore?