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The Ultimate Big Ten Basketball Cupcake Guide

by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)

College basketball season kicks off this week, with big games like Michigan State-UConn, Wisconsin-Florida and countless others headlining the Big Ten’s opening week. Add in a number of tournaments and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and we’ll see a number of marquee non-conference matchups before 2013 rolls around.

However, college basketball non-conference season wouldn’t be complete without a heavy dose of cupcakes, and for every marquee game we see, we’ll see a dozen games about the caliber of Northwestern vs. Farleigh Dickinson.

Using a formula first developed by Sports Illustrated’s Andy Glockner, we categorize all of the cupcakes you’ll see in the Big Ten, adding some of our own categories, as well.

State that’s not a state

Norfolk State (Illinois), Sam Houston State (Indiana), Ball State (Indiana, Purdue), Coppin State (Indiana, Iowa), Nicholls State (Michigan State, Nebraska), Kent State (Nebraska), Jacksonville State (Nebraska), Mississippi Valley State (Northwestern), Savannah State (Ohio State), Chicago State (Ohio State)

Directional school

Western Carolina (Illinois), Eastern Kentucky (Illinois), Central Michigan (Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska), Western Kentucky (Iowa), Western Michigan (Michigan), Eastern Michigan (Michigan, Purdue), Northern Kentucky (Ohio State), North Florida (Minnesota), Southeastern Louisiana (Wisconsin)

State School w/ non-directional descriptor

Florida Atlantic (Indiana), Texas Southern (Michigan State, Northwestern)


Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Iowa), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Michigan State), Louisiana-Lafayette (Michigan State), Nebraska-Omaha (Nebraska, Wisconsin), Illinois-Chicago (Northwestern), Missouri-Kansas City (Ohio State), North Carolina-Ashville (Ohio State), North Carolina-Wilmington (Purdue), Wisconsin-Green Bay (Wisconsin), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Wisconsin) 

That’s a place?

Bryant (Indiana), Howard (Iowa), Slippery Rock (Michigan), IUPUI (Michigan), Tuskegee (Michigan State), American (Minnesota), Lafayette (Minnesota), Southern (Nebraska), Farleigh Dickinson (Northwestern), Winthrop (Ohio State), La Salle (Penn State), Duquesne (Penn State), Hofstra (Purdue), Lamar (Purdue), William & Mary (Purdue), Samford (Wisconsin)

Religious School

St. Francis (Illinois, Penn State), Mount St. Mary’s (Indiana), Presbyterian (Wisconsin)

Cities that don’t sound like they should have a college

Jacksonville (Indiana), Binghamton (Michigan), Oakland (Michigan State), Richmond (Minnesota), Albany (Ohio State)

Bad “states”

North Dakota State (Indiana, Minnesota), South Carolina State (Iowa), Tennessee State (Minnesota), South Dakota State (Minnesota), Delaware State (Northwestern, Penn State), Texas State (Northwestern)

Bad “states” without “state”

South Dakota (Iowa), Rhode Island (Ohio State), Pennsylvania (Penn State), New Hampshire (Penn State)

Double categories

Gardner-Webb (Illinois, Iowa), Central Connecticut State (Indiana), Texas-Pan American (Iowa)


Colgate (Illinois), Bradley (Michigan), Loyola (Michigan State), Bowling Green (Michigan State), Toledo (Minnesota), Valparaiso (Nebraska), Brown (Northwestern), Army (Penn State), Cornell (Wisconsin)

The Rundown

Here’s how many cupcakes each team will play:

Illinois - 6, Indiana - 9, Iowa - 9, Michigan - 7, Michigan State - 8, Minnesota - 8, Nebraska - 7, Northwestern - 7, Ohio State - 8, Penn State - 7, Purdue - 6, Wisconsin - 7

Interestingly enough, the preseason No. 1 team in the country is tied for playing the most cupcakes, along with another team that is hoping to break out. Meanwhile, Illinois and Purdue could struggle this year due to a coaching change and inexperience, respectively, yet they will play the fewest number of cupcakes.


Biggest category — That’s a place?: “That’s a place” narrowly beats out “State that’s not a state” this year, with 16 schools from the former and 13 from the latter.

Runner-up: State that’s not a state.

Most played cupcake — Central Michigan: The Chippewas play three Big Ten schools — Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska.

Runners-up: Ball State, Coppin State, Nicholls State, Eastern Michigan, Texas Southern, Nebraska-Omaha, St. Francis, North Dakota State, Delaware State, Gardner-Webb (all with 2).

Best name — Slippery Rock: Because Sturdy Rock would have been too difficult to play.

Runner-up: Farleigh Dickinson.