Big Ten basketball has not gotten off to a banner start in the 2021-22 campaign. To put it mildly.

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So is the B1G, considered by most to be the nation’s best conference this season, overrated? Or something even worse than overrated? Like on the precipice of an ACC-level swan dive?

No. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Until football season ends, we don’t know much about any basketball season. But there are a lot of reasons to think the Big Ten’s early stumbles are a bug rather than a feature.

It is noteworthy, of course, that arguably the top two teams in the B1G already have losses — Michigan and Illinois. And the fact the Big Ten started 0-4 in the Gavitt Tipoff Games competition against the Big East isn’t a font of encouragement.

But these were not blowouts. Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin lost by a combined 8 points to Seton Hall, Marquette and Providence respectively. Nebraska lost by 8 to Creighton, which isn’t such a bad result for the Cornhuskers when you look at where both of those programs have been for, oh, the past 30 years.

On Wednesday night, Michigan State and Indiana beat Butler and St. John’s, with the Spartans cruising past the Bulldogs by 19 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. So it’s not as if the Big Ten is getting completely outclassed by the Big East here.

The Illinois loss at Marquette is particularly anomalous.

For the Fighting Illini, it was the third and final game without their most impactful player, center Kofi Cockburn. So while guard Andre Curbelo’s 7 turnovers are still troubling, it’s hard to imagine the Illini squandering a 12-point lead in the final 10 minutes with Cockburn in the lineup. Because in that case, the lead would probably be 20.

Of these early B1G losses, only Maryland’s defeat to George Mason is a bridge into troubled waters. The Patriots came into Wednesday’s game rated 154th by KenPom and hadn’t played anyone better than No. 200 Stony Brook.

But when an underdog can scorch the nets from outside, it always has a chance. And that’s precisely what the Patriots did. George Mason was 50% (12 of 24) from 3-point range.

Given the makeup of Maryland’s lineup, early-season hiccups should be expected. The Terrapins are counting on major contributions from 4 transfers and a freshman among their top-8 rotation. It may take a month or two for them to get clicking. Or it might not click at all.

Either way, it’s far too early to tell.

Don’t expect Maryland to be the last Big Ten team prone to this caliber of early-season upset. Only 2 Big Ten teams are in the Top 100 in terms of minutes continuity from last year’s rosters as measured by KenPom: Purdue and Rutgers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, neither has been tripped up yet.

Big Ten rosters ranked by minutes continuity, nationally

  • Purdue (30)
  • Rutgers (86)
  • Northwestern (117)
  • Indiana (144)
  • Michigan State (169)
  • Iowa (180)
  • Penn State (184)
  • Ohio State (186)
  • Maryland (207)
  • Illinois (222)
  • Michigan (237)
  • Wisconsin (246)
  • Nebraska (280)
  • Minnesota (340)

For Illinois, that figure will improve — perhaps dramatically — with Cockburn coming back from his 3-game season-opening suspension. It’s likely no coincidence that 5 of the 6 lowest-ranked Big Ten teams in this category have suffered defeats in the season’s first 2 weeks.

By season’s end, the impact of minutes continuity on a game’s outcome figures to diminish.