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Peterson: Big Ten hoops absorbs beating

All season long, college basketball observers have been wondering if the BIG 10 was really as good as it appeared on paper.

The recent NCAA tournament provided an answer, if an incomplete one.

No, the conference wasn’t that great. Strong, but not the juggernaut many pundits had it pegged as.

Of the nine league teams that landed a spot in the Big Dance, only one, Michigan, will be playing in the Sweet 16.

In contrast, the PAC 10 has three teams still going.

People are looking for reasons for the failure of the conference in what has been the strangest season of all.

You have to put down the COVID-19 as one of the reasons. But many will point out that the entire nation was affected. and that is true.

The major reason for the late season collapse very well could have been the strength of the conference.

When you’re playing a strong team every night out, it tends to take a lot out of you over the long haul.

I’ve seen it happen at every level, even in high school. A team practices and plays hard throughout the season, and can run out of gas come tournament time.

No. 1 seed Gonzaga didn’t have that to worry about playing in its relatively weak conference. That’s why the Zags still rank as the team to beat.

Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines and their coach, deserve a lot of credit for persevering through the pandemic and some untimely injuries.

Juwan Howard, a member of the famed Fab Five, has proven he learned a lot from that experience. His handling of the team has been worthy of the Coach of the Year laurels he’s already earned.

Can the Wolverines win a national title is the question in the minds of a lot of people.

I believe they have a shot but will probably come a bit shy.

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