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A “Competitive” Big Ten: Look no further than Piscataway

TV Ratings were up for the conference and it wasn’t because of Nebraska!

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The highest ranked Big Ten men’s basketball team in the AP Top 25 as of Monday was Purdue at No. 13. The next highest was Wisconsin at No. 24 followed by Maryland at No. 25.

Three Big Ten teams in the Top 25. Three.

And how does the Big Ten respond to that? Well, it says the conference was “competitive”. And they back it up with TV ratings. This from BTN:

After an extraordinarily competitive 2016-2017 season, BTN’s men’s basketball live game coverage drew an 11% increase in overall household delivery over last season, fueled by a 22% growth in Super Wednesday doubleheaders*. 52 conference games were decided either in the final minute or overtime, and 31 of those were featured on BTN, including 10 of the 12 overtime contests.

Now, we know that Minnesota had this incredible turnaround, going from 8-23 in 2015-16 to 23-8 in 2016-17. And for what it’s worth, the Golden Gophers were a part of four of the top 10 conference games in network history. Minny was, though, playing Maryland (twice), Michigan, and Wisconsin in those games. So, maybe it wasn’t the folks from Minnesnowda that drove those ratings.

There was another Big Ten team, though, that had a bit of a turnaround of its own. A team that was 7-25 last season with one - ONE - Big Ten win. A team that this year doubled its total wins and tripled its Big Ten win total.

And that team - the Big Ten’s New York City team - is your Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Am I exaggerating? Blowing things out of proportion? Living a pipe dream (or using that pipe for something else?)

Maybe. But let’s face facts. The Big Ten was pretty balanced compared to previous years. Finishing the season with just three Top 25 teams while the ACC had six. And as for RPI, the B1G still only had three teams in the Top 25. Hey, the Atlantic 10 had two! And we all know, RU wasn’t even that strong among New Jersey’s handful of D1 programs.

But the Knights were so, so, so much better than they were last year. So, so, so much more competitive against that competitive conference they’re in. And so, so, so much more entertaining to watch. Like on TV....which adds to ratings. Am I right?

Yes, it was more or less a balanced - or “competitive” - Big Ten in 2016-17. And you know who added to it this year instead of subtracting? Yeah....Rutgers.

BTN will air five games from the Big Ten Tournament in Washington D.C., beginning with No. 11 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Rutgers tonight at 7 p.m. Sit back and enjoy. You’ll be adding to that improved rating on BTN. And we know who wins that one.

*Source: Nielsen Metered Market Overnights: Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.