As the second half of the B1G season got underway, league leaders Indiana and Michigan lost in dramatic fashion to Illinois and Wisconsin. These losses point out how deep and how tough the conference is this year. Indiana and Michigan have each been ranked number one in the country and have stayed at or near the top of the charts so far this year. Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois have all spent time ranked in the top 25. Most experts have recognized the B1G as the best conference in the country. HOWEVER, several references have been made in the press to the fact that this prestigious conference has not been getting it done on the biggest stage.
The last NCAA Tournament Championship won by a member of the Big Ten Conference was MSU in 2000. That is an unacceptably long drought.
From 1971 to 1990 B1G teams won 5 titles, or 25% of all the tournaments. In the next 20 years from 1991 to 2010 the conference managed only 1 championship. The ACC, Big East and SEC have dominated this period with the PAC-12 and Big 12 grabbing a couple.
In total Indiana has accounted for 3 of the last 6 NCAA championships and 5 of the total 10 all-time. MSU is the second most successful with 2 titles and Michigan, OSU and Wisconsin have all managed 1 each. I am disappointed that our conference rivals have failed to match their success within the league on the national level.
In my opinion the Hoosiers have demonstrated that they have the talent to compete for and win another national title. They have also shown they can stumble and loose a game they have all but wrapped up. The goal for this team is still to hang the sixth banner in Assembly Hall, BUT I challenge the rest of the B1G teams to join us in the Final Four and to be the team that wins it all if we fall short.
The Spartans have not received as much attention as IU and Michigan but they have a number of quality wins, are sitting atop the B1G and have the coach that has the best Final Four resume.
The Wolverines, like the Hoosiers have held the #1 spot in the rankings, have quality wins, have led the B1G and seem to have what it takes to win a title. Their only NCAA trophy has 23 years of dust on it and is lonely.
This does not look like the year that the Buckeyes are capable of winning it all, however the last few years they had everything that it takes to win, they entered the tourney as favorites and they underperformed badly. Maybe this year they can flip the script and outperform expectations.
Year after year the Badgers are pests and create pains for their fellow B1G teams. They manage to stay in the top half of the league and make the tournament. Maybe someday soon they will cause non-conference teams as much pain as they cause their league foes by winning the whole damn thing.
I am at a loss to know what to think about the Golden Gophers. As the B1G season opened I counted them as one of the top three teams to win the league. They have struggled to a .500 record in league play, however they still have strong players both inside and out. Can they make a surprise run against teams that don’t have to play teams of this caliber every week from January through February?
Purdue fans probably will accuse me of bias when I point out that their only national championship in basketball came before it was decided by a tournament. They were voted champs in 1932. While they have more success than any other team within the league, they have no trophies or banners to show for it. Sorry Purdue this will not be the year to end that streak. You need to get into the tournament to win the tournament.
It has been a long time since the Hawkeyes have been a threat to win it all and the Northwestern Wildcats are famous for not making the tournament. The Cornhuskers and Nittany Lions must wait until spring football practice to talk about national prominence.
I am not letting the Hoosiers off the hook. I want a championship Banner. It’s been way too long for our proud program and it’s our time. It is also time for our colleagues to be the team to win it all in years that we don’t. IU is not the only team that is past due.