Big Ten must step up in Big Dance

Updated: February 23, 2009, 12:50 PM ET
By Graham Hays
I was sitting in the San Diego airport, wondering what the Big Ten Network will be showing on overnight replay on the Jet Blue redeye, when I stumbled across a missed e-mail from someone in the Big Ten looking for an opinion on the league's lack of representation in the Top 25. Come to think of it, it's a pretty good question.

Forget whether you're in the pro or con camp when it comes to the big schools in the Midwest; it borders on astounding that for the second season in a row, we're less than a week from March and only one Big Ten team, Ohio State, is ranked. Not only that, but the Buckeyes are the only Big Ten team even sniffing the Top 25 rankings in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Despite a four-game winning streak, Michigan State had all of two votes in last week's poll, and it might find holding even those votes difficult after Sunday's loss against Wisconsin. Nobody else even got the Ron Gant Cooperstown courtesy vote.

And it's not as if the standings are a monument to parity. Even with the loss, Michigan State is 12-4 in conference games, tied with Purdue for second behind Ohio State.