I grew up in the heart of Big 10 Country, only a few miles from the University of Illinois campus. I am still a huge Illini fan, but I have lived in Maryland since 1986 and root for the Terps as my second team. My daughter is even a student there so College Park athletics are a passion of mine.
So I feel like I may be a good person to give Maryland Terrapin fans a scoop on the Big Ten Conference. So here is the skinny:
— Michigan is the team to hate. Sure Ohio State has out-shined the Wolverines in football in recent years, but Michigan fans have an attitude that will not sit well with you. Trust me, you will want to buy a “M$*K Fichigan” t-shirt right away. Think about it…..
— No one, except for Ohio State fans, really finds the “THE Ohio State…” announcements during Monday Night Football games endearing.
— Indiana, even though success has been fleeting lately, is the team to hate in men’s basketball. The Hooiser basketball attitude will get on your nerves. Think Michigan attitudes but with a John Mellencamp flair.
— The real kings of college basketball in the Big Ten are coaches Tom Izzo and Thad Matta of Michigan State and Ohio State respectively. You may root against their teams, but you can only respective their programs and ideals.
— Northwestern has a reputation as being not good at sports. That is not true, as they are good at most sports, with even football being a consistent winner under Pat Fitzgerald. Basketball, not so much.
— My Illinois football team has not been a consistent winner for 60 or more years (not kidding…). But when Red Grange and Dick Butkis are part of your distinguished alumni, you can coast on that for at least a hundred years. Or at least that is what it seems like.
— Speaking of Illinois, look out for the basketball team to improve under 3rd year, fiery coach John Groce. Local fans still argue that the team needs to keep the best Chicago talent in state, but Groce is signing some strong talent and this team will be a major contender very soon.
— Women’s volleyball is a major sport in the conference. Penn State won multiple NCAA championships recently, while Illinois was national runner up in 2011. Nebraska, Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota are also strong teams to watch each year.
— The conference takes academics and research capabilities seriously. Maryland should be proud of being in this group. All schools must meet the high standards of the Association of American Universities. They each, along with lone former member the University of Chicago, is also part of an elite academic consortium called the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. SEC type academic issues is unlikely within these schools, as they would not want to look bad to each other.
And finally two last things to leave you with:
— Yes, the logo is stylized as B1G. I am not going to try and explain that one.
— There are 14 teams (not counting lacrosse associate member Johns Hopkins) in the conference. FOURTEEN in the Big TEN.