After Purdue beat Wisconsin over the weekend, the Boilermakers solidified what we already knew; Purdue is the best team in the Big Ten. But this now leaves an important question, who is the second-best team in the Big Ten? The two candidates are Illinois and Wisconsin.

Who Is The Second-Best Team In The Big Ten?

The Case for Wisconsin

Wisconsin has six quad 1 wins this season, including wins against Marquette and Virginia. But the good wins aren’t truly what makes Wisconsin stand out. The Badgers have zero bad losses (Q3 or Q4), in fact, Wisconsin only has one loss to a non-Q1 team. They lost at Penn State earlier this season, which is considered to be a Q2 loss. Overall, Wisconsin’s resume is very good and lacks any blemishes.

Wisconsin also has great metrics. The Badgers have the 9th-best offense and 33rd-best defense according to Kenpom. This is a balance we are not accustomed to seeing at Wisconsin as the Badgers are typically a defense-oriented team. A lot of this can be attributed to the transfer of AJ Storr from St John’s. He has raised the offensive ceiling of the team and has allowed other players to blossom.

The Case for Illinois

Illinois is a team that is higher in the predictive metrics, like Kenpom, than the results-based ones. Illinois has a losing record in quad 1 games and has one bad loss at home against Maryland. Despite this, they ranked 9th in Kenpom with the seventh-best offensive efficiency in the country. Despite this, they are ranked 14th in the NET rankings, which means Illinois is they are playing slightly below its potential.

The main difference between Illinois and Wisconsin is the star power. Terrence Shannon is one of the best players in the country and Marcus Domask has All-Big Ten first-team talent. The team is full of talent and if it plays to its highest level it is certainly the second-best team in the Big Ten. However, the Illini have not always played to their best level this season, which is concerning.

Who Is The Second-Best Team In The Big Ten?

College basketball has so many analytical measurements for teams like Kenpom, Torvik, NET, etc. that we can easily figure out if Wisconsin or Illinois is better, right? Unfortunately, the metrics seem to disagree. According to Kenpom, Illinois is better. But, according to the NET, Wisconsin is better. So who is the second-best team in the Big Ten?

At this point, I would say Wisconsin is the second-best team in the Big Ten. When comparing the two teams, I think it comes down to resume. Wisconsin is 6-5 in quad 1 games while Illinois is 3-4. Not only has Wisconsin had a more challenging schedule, but they are also better against better teams. Also, they have no bad losses. Illinois has a home loss to Maryland, which is worse than any loss on Wisconsin’s schedule.

There is still a lot of season left. Illinois has the talent to overtake Wisconsin. It will be an interesting final stretch of the season including a March 2nd meeting in Madison between the two.

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.