Dan Bonner: ‘The Atlantic-10 Is Going To Be Really Well-Represented In The NCAA Tournament’

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(Credit: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

(Credit: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

There are four teams in the Big Ten – Illinois, Purdue, Penn State and Northwestern – that are 5-10 in league play. Another team, Indiana, is 6-9.

That’s pretty bad, huh?

Well, maybe, maybe not.

John Feinstein believes those lackluster records have less to do with those teams being bad and more to do with the strength of the top teams in the conference. That would be No. 16 Michigan (20-7, 12-3), No. 18 Michigan State (22-6, 11-4), No. 14 Wisconsin (23-5, 10-5), No. 22 Ohio State (22-7, 9-7) and No. 20 Iowa (19-9, 8-7).

In fact, Feinstein believes the top half of the Big Ten is the best we’ve got in college basketball.

“I don’t think there’s any question about that,” CBS college basketball analyst Dan Bonner said. “And I think that those teams with five and six wins are simply an indication of how good the league is from top to bottom. Penn State sweeps Ohio State in the season series, and that’s not a fluke. Penn State is much better. The only reason their record isn’t much better is because their league is so good.”

Feinstein wonders if Big Ten bottom feeders would be on the bubble in others conferences.

“There’s no question about that,” Bonner said. “I don’t think that would necessarily be the case in the Big 12, which is really, really good. But I think if you put them in the Big East or you put them in the ACC or you put them in the American, they would be teams that wouldn’t necessarily be contending for a league championship, but they would be in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament bid.”

All that said, Andrew Bogusch would rather see the second-best team from a lesser conference make the NCAA Tournament over the eighth-best team from a top-tier conference.

“I think I agree with you there, and I think that the tournament selection committee has gone more and more in that direction over the last few years,” Bonner said. “Their basic philosophy now is a quality win is a quality win, no matter where you get it. And that’s why I think the Atlantic-10 is going to be really well-represented in the NCAA Tournament because all of their top teams are in the top 50.”

Thus, it doesn’t matter that a team like St. Joe’s (20-7, 10-3), for example, has all of its quality wins coming against conference rivals.

“It doesn’t make any difference,” Bonner said. “A good win is a good win. I think that when you consider the team’s overall records – 5-10, 6-9 in the Big Ten – their overall record is still going to be very close to .500 and their RPI is not really going to be all that good. And so when you put all the factors together, I think you’re more likely to see a second team from a smaller conference get in than, say, an Indiana.

“But we still have time to play. We still have a week left in the season, we still have conference tournaments – there’s an awful lot that can still happen.”

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