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Iowa suffers the curse of “Big Ten’s 2nd best” label, loses 2nd straight

Earlier this week BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart attempted to answer the eternal question of the 2014-15 Big Ten season — who is the Big Ten’s 2nd best team?

His answer was Iowa, and it was obvious to him because they had won a ton of tough road games. The Hawkeyes did beat North Carolina, Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan on the road already, after all.

Add in a remaining schedule that features just one team with a winning record as of today (Sunday), and clearly the Hawkeyes were going to rise to the top of the cluster of 4 and 5-loss teams.

Except Dienhart should have known better than to pen an article saying one team was definitively the second best in the Big Ten. It’s only the nine-millionth article or talking head attempting to explain why team xyz would be the Big Ten’s second best.

Instead his words became prophetic of an impending loss — something at least five other teams have suffered this season after being the new “it” team for pundits and talking heads to fawn over.

Dienhart even went so far as to point out this nugget from Iowa’s schedule to date: “Bad losses? There are none.”

About that…All the Hawkeyes have done since that article was written is drop a 64-59 game to Minnesota at home and then go on the road to Northwestern and drop an overtime thriller. You know, the Northwestern team that came in averaging 3.5 points per loss on the season.

Bad Losses? Iowa now has two of them in a row and welcome bottom dwellers Rutgers to Carver-Hawkeye next.

[pull_quote_right]I can see Iowa going at least 6-2 down the stretch, which would make the Hawkeyes 12-6 in the Big Ten. [/pull_quote_right]

If you’re keeping track at home, that’s 0-2 since Dienhart (and a few others) decided Iowa was the new darling of the non-Wisconsin portion of the Big Ten basketball slate. However, Iowa fans can take solace in the fact that they aren’t the first and knowing the media, won’t be the last to suffer such a harsh fate.

First it was Minnesota, who came in to Big Ten conference play red-hot…so hot that BTN analyst Jim Jackson uttered their name as the second best team in the conference on the pregame show to the Big Ten openers.

Curse of death? The Gophers couldn’t buy a win early on, losing the first five B1G games of the season and currently sit at 5-7 in Big Ten play overall.

Next up were the Buckeyes of Ohio State, and you guessed it. Oops.

They promptly went out and lost to Indiana and that was the end of the early talk of them as the second-best. However, the Hoosiers would go on to prove the win wasn’t just a fluke, taking care of then No. 13 Maryland (who were the hot team coming in and the pick as the second best by the majority of us out there).

Boom. The Indiana Hoosiers were now the second best team in the Big Ten all of a sudden. There was no doubting how hot they were or the resume of wins on their schedule to date.

Except, once again…Indiana suffered the curse and would go on to lose back-to-back road games to Ohio State and Purdue and have lost four of the last six overall in Big Ten play. Not exactly second-best material right there.

It all ends up with Wisconsin sitting on top of the conference at 11-1 and seven Big Ten teams all within the 4 to 6-loss territory. Only Maryland and Michigan State are left with four losses, and both have a date with Wisconsin coming up on the schedule.

So, before anyone utters the words “Michigan State” and “second-best Big Ten team” in the same sentence going forward, please remember it means certain defeat and we’re all right back to square one.

Apparently the key to knowing who the second-best team in the Big Ten is, is silence.

Pure silence. Oh, and waiting and letting the games play themselves out instead of playing the guessing game.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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