Is Illinois on the brink of greatness — or collapse? And is Iowa still the team to beat? Big Ten basketball takeaways from the start of the season.

Every season, every coach in every conference says the same thing. Their conference is the toughest, deepest and most talented. “This is the best league in the country and it’s not even close,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said after beating Northwestern. But this season is different. Because when Big Ten basketball coaches make statements like that, they’re telling the truth. Nine of 14 Big Ten teams have been ranked this season, with seven (Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Rutgers, Minnesota and Michigan State) in The Associated Press’ Top 25 in Week 7. Four teams (Michigan, Illinois, I…

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HEDGE accordingly