A Brief History of the Big Ten's Worst Good Team

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa wears the crown this season.

To be the worst good team, you have to A) be good, B) lose quite a bit, and C) really have no reason not to be better. That's Iowa in every general sense. Ohio State matches the criteria as well, but Iowa breaks the tie by carrying the more irritated fan base--that's really the point of the whole thing.

Here's proof.

That's Patrick Vint of Black Heart Gold Pants, and he's an irritated fella.

Here's where the rest of the Big Ten falls in this race.

- Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State are too successful.

- Northwestern, Purdue, Penn State and Illinois have too little talent and lose too much to be considered good.

- Indiana disappoints in a whole different kind of way, but that way associates more with last year's success, not with the current team. Because they aren't good.

- Minnesota and Nebraska are the best bad teams. This puts them near Iowa in the chain of things, only without the anger.

Paradoxically being good enough to win and awful enough to lose is the Big Ten's worst purgatory, and everyone without an Izzo has to go through it. Here's the list.

2012-13: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Tubby Smith squandered a damn fine basketball team and it deservedly got him fired. It was essentially their current team plus Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams. And if a coach can't win with that, then that coach might not be able to win.

Minnesota spent 11 weeks ranked and three weeks in the top 10. I thought they were a legitimate Final Four contender when I watched their January game in Champaign. Of all the teams on this list, this team might be the best, and therefore the saddest.

2011-12: Michigan Wolverines

This pick's not nearly as simple as the '13 Gophers selection, but someone's gotta be the worst. This was Trey Burke's freshman year and finally Zach Novak's senior year. They were about as young as it gets in college hoops, and still, pretty darn good. But they slowed down late in the season, sneaking by terrible teams (Northwestern, Illinois, Penn State), getting blown out by Ohio State in the B1G Tournament, and losing to John Groce's Ohio Bobcats in the NCAA Tournament.

2010-11: Illinois Fighting Illini

Here we are. And to hell with this damn team.

Illinois had every bit of talent and experience necessary to make a run at the Big Ten title. Demetri McCamey's silky passes fed Mike's Tisdale and Davis, freshmen Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, and Jereme Richmond (who, in spite of his craziness, was an incredible basketball player). Bill Cole also knocked down some threes and tallied Matto points like nobody's business.

For awhile, things rolled along nicely. Then the wheels shook a bit. Then they fell off all at once and Jereme punched Brandon Paul in the face and we grinded our wheel-less shopping cart to a round of 32 exit and, seriously, damn that season.

2009-10: Wisconsin Badgers

The Big Ten's top-to-bottom ability is a relatively new phenomenon. Back in this day, the top four teams kicked everybody else's asses and rolled into the NCAA Tournament with sexy records.

Ohio State had Evan Turner and was awesome. Purdue had Robbie Hummel, E'twaun Moore and JuJuan Johnson and they were awesome. Michigan State made the Final Four. Illinois and Minnesota were average and desperate, again. Everyone else sucked. Wisconsin takes the 2010 title because no one else did. Of the good teams, they were the one you wanted to play.

2008-09: Illinois Fighting Illini

Trent Meacham, Chester Frazier, Calvin Brock and I just don't want to get into it. They won enough games for a 5 seed, lost and, seriously, I don't want to get into it. I'm not reliving the Meacham-era

NOW: Iowa Hawkeyes

The list makes the NCAA Tournament at a 100 percent clip, so there are worse fates. You could be the MAC's worst good team. Hell, you could be the MAC's worst bad team. You could have several canker sores at once. There's a whole slew of more terrible hells to be in.

So don't fret, Iowa. Its better than a stick in the eye, or Todd Lickliter.

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