It has repeatedly occurred to me this month that Big Ten men’s basketball teams have a lot of out-of-state players. I guess it finally got me thinking Tuesday when Wisconsin played at Iowa. The Badgers typically have had strong in-state presences in their lineups, Sam Dekker and Devin Harris and Bronson Koenig and Josh Gasser, to name but four.
But only one of the Badgers’ starters Tuesday, guard Brevin Pritzl, was from Wisconsin. Two were from Minnesota. Which means more the Badgers have twice as many starters from that state as Minnesota. The Gophers start two players from Georgia, just one from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Only one of the 14 Big Ten teams has more than two starters (the last game in which each of those teams has played) from its own state. That is Penn State, with four Pennsylvanians in the starting five. Though Philadelphia is to State College what Chicago is to Champaign, Penn State has recruited Greater Philadelphia hard the last few years. It’s paying off.
Iowa has two Iowans, Nicholas Baer of Bettendorf and Jordan Bohannon of Marion. The Hawkeyes also have Dubuque’s Cordell Pemsl and Spirit Lake’s Ryan Kriener among the 11 players they regularly use.
Indiana, once was built on in-state players, got away from that under Tom Crean. Zach McRoberts is the only Hoosier starter from the Hoosier State. North Carolina and Virginia are among the states supplying Indiana’s other starters.
Likewise, Michigan State usually has a heavy presence of Michiganders in its lineup. To name all of Tom Izzo’s great Spartan players from Michigan would fill this post. But only two of the current five are from that state. One is from Alabama. So is one of Purdue’s, center Isaac Haas. The Boilermakers start two Indiana natives.
Nebraska and Rutgers have no one from Nebraska and New Jersey in their respective starting fives. The Huskers have no in-state guys in their 8-man rotation, but do have three players from Raleigh, N.C.
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Rutgers’ starters are from Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Mali and Senegal. The State University of New Jersey, indeed.
Maryland has as many starters from Europe (Spain and Slovakia) as from Maryland. Michigan has as many from Germany (one) as Michigan.
Illinois and Northwestern have two starters each from Illinois. Ohio State has two from Ohio. Eighty percent of the league’s 10 starters from Ohio are playing out of state.
Add it up, and just 22 of the 70 starters (31.4 percent) are home state guys. What does this mean, if anything? It’s that the teams are located where they’re located, but don’t represent where they’re located. Outside of Penn State, anyway.
No, this isn’t a Big Ten thing. Iowa State’s most-recent starting five is from California, Louisiana, Texas, Wisconsin and Nova Scotia. Kansas’ is from Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Nigeria and Ukraine.
I’ve borrowed this Jerry Seinfeld line before: Sports fans cheer for laundry.