2016-2017 Big Ten Rankings: College Football & Basketball Combinations
How did the Big Ten rank this year in the two major sports? From 1 to 14, the Big Ten football and basketball combinations of 2016-2017.
How did the Big Ten schools rank in the two major sports?
It was a strong year for Big Ten football – with four teams getting into the big bowls – but Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State lost, and Wisconsin got the kid’s table New Year’s Six matchup against Western Michigan. Even so, the league had a phenomenal year overall.
The basketball season was way, way down, hurt by a mediocre Michigan State and lousy Ohio State and Indiana programs that are supposed to be far better. Even so, it was entertaining.
This isn’t necessarily about which fan bases had the most fun – like the 25 Best College Football & Basketball Combinations list – this is about which schools had the most combined success in the two big sports. Okay, so it’s weighted a little heavier on the football side for the Big Ten, so …
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
– Rutgers Spring Football Look & Prespring Ranking
Football: The Scarlet Knights finished last in the Big Ten East – and last overall – going winless in the conference and 2-10 overall.
Basketball: It wasn’t as bad a season as the football program had, but the Scarlet Knights finished dead last in the Big Ten by three games – going 3-15 – and finished with a non-conference-heavy 15-18 record.
The Deal: It’s going to take a bit. Head football coach Chris Ash is a good one, but he’s going to need to build the program up, while the basketball team needs to soon find a sign of life.
13. Illinois Fighting Illini
Football: It wasn’t a fun first season under Lovie Smith, finishing sixth in the Big Ten West going 2-7, and 3-9 overall.
Basketball: Hoops are supposed to be a big deal in Champaign, but the Illini finished the regular season 19-14 and ninth in the Big Ten. They flirted with getting an NCAA bid, but no. Head coach John Groce was fired.
The Deal: Illinois is a mess. Hiring Lovie Smith was a great get, but the payoff has to come in a hurry to make up for the mediocre basketball team. Getting rid of Groce was a must, but AD Josh Whitman needs a Lovie-level win of a hoops hire.
12. Michigan State Spartans
Football: A complete and utter disaster, the Spartans might have been college football’s biggest disappointment. The defending Big Ten champs finished an ugly 1-8 in the East and 3-9 overall.
Basketball: The Spartans were fine, but hardly anything special in a down year. They went 10-8 in the Big Ten – finishing tied for fifth – getting a 9 seed in the NCAAs.
The Deal: The basketball team started to find a groove as the season went on, but it wasn’t a Big Ten championship season – that’s where the bar is set under Tom Izzo. The bar is set considerably higher than 3-9 for the football program.
11. Indiana Hoosiers
Football: It seemed like a nice year – finishing fourth in the East with a 4-5 record, and getting a bowl bid with a six-win regular season – but the Hoosiers lost in their bowl game after head coach Kevin Wilson was fired.
Basketball: How bad is Indiana basketball? It got bounced out of the first round – of the NIT. The Hoosiers finished tied for 10th in the Big Ten, finishing the year 18-16.
The Deal: Indiana basketball is supposed to get into the NCAA Tournament without even breathing hard, and it’s supposed to matter in the Big Ten title chase. Nope, and nope. The football team getting to a bowl game always matters in Bloomington.
10. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Football: The season started out fine, but it was a rocky finish ending up tied for second in the Big Ten West going 6-3, and going 9-4 overall with a bowl loss.
Basketball: It was a rough year, finishing tied for 11th in the conference going 6-12 in the Big 12, and 15-18 overall.
The Deal: The football program needs to be better. It was a good year, but Bo Pelini won nine games on a regular basis, too. The hoops team dragged things down in the rankings.
9. Purdue Boilermakers
Football: At least Purdue wasn’t Rutgers. The firing of head coach Darrell Hazell midway through the season cast a pall over the rest of the campaign, ending up dead last in the West winning just one game, and finishing 3-9 overall.
Basketball: The Boilermakers didn’t win the Big Ten Tournament championship. Whatever. The NCAA committee didn’t seem to care too much, putting the Big Ten regular season champs – the real Big Ten champion – in at a 4 seed.
The Deal: Winning the Big Ten basketball regular season carries a ton of weight, but it would’ve been nice if there was a better showing in the league tournament. As bad as the football season was, hiring new head coach Jeff Brohm was excellent.
8. Iowa Hawkeyes
Football: After a bad start, and before an awful bowl game finish in a blowout loss to Florida, the Hawkeyes were okay, tying for second in the West and going 8-5 overall.
Basketball: The Hawkeyes couldn’t get past a bad three-game losing streak with win over Maryland and Wisconsin to close out the regular season. A loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament meant an 18-14 pre-NIT campaign, even though they finished tied for fifth in the conference.
The Deal: The inability to get into the NCAA Tournament stinks – the team was good enough to do it. The football season was okay, but the way it ended with yet another bowl embarrassment was a problem.
7. Maryland Terrapins
Football: It might have been ugly for a long stretch, and the season finished with a losing 6-7 record, but the Terps went bowling in the first year under D.J. Durkin. If you told them before the season they’d finish ahead of Michigan State in the East, they’d have taken it in a heartbeat.
Basketball: It was a strong season, but it could’ve been so much more. The Terps finished ties for second in the Big Ten regular season, but flamed out in a relative home game in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Deal: Both the football and basketball seasons flew a bit under the radar – football struggled too much and the basketball side was expected to do more – the Terps went to a bowl game and the NCAAs in the same season.
6. Penn State Nittany Lions
Football: Boom. The season didn’t seem to start out like anything special, but the Nittany Lions roared to a Big Ten championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Losing to USC didn’t really matter – it was all gravy in a brilliant run.
Basketball: The Nittany Lions couldn’t get the season going, finishing tied with Nebraska for 12th in the Big Ten with a 6-12 record, going 15-18 overall.
The Deal: Yeah, the Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl run probably warrants a higher place on the list, but the Nittany Lions didn’t get to the College Football Playoff – that matters more than winning a conference title – and the basketball team stunk.
5. Northwestern Wildcats
Football: After a miserable start, the Cats roared back. They finished 5-4 in the conference and 7-6 overall, beating Illinois to get bowl eligible, and then shocking Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Basketball: All Northwestern did was get to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program’s history. The Cats might have only finished 10-8 in the Big Ten, and they might have been obliterated by Wisconsin in the conference tournament, but no one cares – Northwestern is in the fricking NCAAs.
The Deal: The historic basketball season was all-timer special, unleashing an never-before-seen enthusiasm for NU hoops. Don’t blow off the great football season, too. Winning a bowl game isn’t the norm in Evanston.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
Football: It might have been an ugly loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, and there might not have been a Big Ten championship – or even an outright division title – but the Buckeyes got to the College Football Playoff. Going 11-2 might not have been what Buckeye fans wanted, but OSU at least beat Oklahoma and Wisconsin, and ripped the heart out of Michigan.
Basketball: A massive disappointment, the Buckeyes tied with Indiana for 10th in the Big Ten going 7-11, and 17-15 overall. The season suffered the ultimate indignity, finishing with a Big Ten Tournament loss to Rutgers.
The Deal: Even with the CFP loss, it was still another great year for the football program. While basketball will always matter, being great in football will, of course, always be a bigger deal. However, the bad year on the hardwood drags the Buckeyes down the list a bit.
3. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Football: Forgetting the ugliness in the end – along with the coaching change – the season on the field was solid, going 5-4 in the Big Ten and finishing a terrific 9-4 after beating Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.
Basketball: A massive breakthrough year, the Gophers finished fourth in the conference going 11-7, and went 24-9 overall going into the NCAAs, getting a 5 seed.
The Deal: The school handled the football controversy as well as possible, and ended up, potentially, taking a big leap forward by getting P.J. Fleck. The basketball turnaround was a big deal, giving the Richard Pitino era a big boost.
2. Wisconsin Badgers
Football: The Big Ten season ended with a thud, collapsing to Penn State in the conference title game. But the Badgers survived a nasty schedule just to get to the Big Ten Championship, and earned a spot in the Cotton Bowl, beating Western Michigan.
Basketball: Bucky might have finished second to Purdue in the regular season, and it might have finished second in the Big Ten Tournament to Michigan, but it was still a decent year, getting an 8 seed in the NCAAs.
The Deal: The Badgers did everything but win anything, finishing second in the Big Ten in both football and basketball. However, the school kept going a fantastic run of 15 straight years of going to a bowl game and the NCAA Tournament in the same season.
1. Michigan Wolverines
Football: It was a heartbreaking year, losing to Iowa in the final seconds, losing to Ohio State in overtime, and losing to Florida State in a phenomenal Orange Bowl. Even so, the Wolverines ended up 10-3 with some huge wins over Colorado and Penn State.
Basketball: It might have been a rocky regular season – finishing tied for fifth in the league – and it was, literally, a rough flight to the conference tournament, but all ended fine with a terrific run to the title. The Wolverines earned a 7 seed in the NCAAs.
The Deal: It was a good year for the Wolverines, but it wasn’t a great one, considering the way the football season went. Compared to the rest of the Big Ten, though, getting to a New Year’s Six in football, and winning the Big Ten Tournament in basketball was better than anything anyone else did.