Power Ranking Big Ten Basketball Teams' Overall Success During Recent History
Although the times are changing in college basketball as a whole and the Big Ten Conference, it will be hard for me to top this last four-year span where I watched and went to as many collegiate basketball games as I could.
A recent graduate of the University of Illinois, I went to every single conference home game for the past four seasons and made it to the Big Ten Tournament each of those years, too.
Previously, I wrote http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1323286-evan-turner-headlines-list-of-big-ten-teams-ultimate-starting-lineups-this-era where I picked five players from teams of the past four seasons and then made an "ultimate starting lineup" for each Big Ten school.
So for the sake of this article, I will be power ranking each of the 12 schools and how they performed during my time as a student. To make things easier—and take away any bias on my part—I ranked teams based on how many conference games each won over the past four years, among other things.
12. Nebraska Cornhuskers
2011-12 12-18 (4-14) T-11th
It's hard to put the the University of Nebraska anywhere but last on this list.
First, the Cornhuskers have only been part of the league for one year. Second, they tied for last with Penn State University in their inaugural Big Ten basketball season.
Nebraska's coach, Doc Sadler, was fired after the Cornhuskers' loss to Purdue University in last year's Big Ten Tournament. Tim Miles came from Colorado State University to take over his former position.
Don't expect this program to be turned around for a few years.
11. Indiana Hoosiers
2008-09 6-25 (1-17) 11th
2009-10 10-21 (4-14) T-9th
2010-11 12-20 (3-15) 11th
2011-12 27-9 (11-7) 5th NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Total 55-75 (19-53)
Considering Indiana University is only one of five Big Ten schools to advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen over the past four years, it was tough for me to slot them 11th.
However, the three consecutive 20-plus loss seasons that gave the Hoosiers an 8-46 conference record over that time will do that to a team.
Obviously the future is bright for the Hoosiers, who could very well be ranked first in the preseason rankings.
But it's tough to forgot how bad IU was for the first three years of Tom Crean's coaching career.
10. Iowa Hawkeyes
2008-09 15-16 (5-13) 10th
2009-10 10-22 (4-14) T-9th
2010-11 11-20 (4-14) 10th
2011-12 18-17 (8-10) T-7th NIT Second Round
Total 54-75 (21-51)
I actually thought about Indiana leapfrogging the University of Iowa in these rankings.
Why not? The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers never finished higher than ninth in the Big Ten between 2008 and 2011—and that's when there were only 11 teams in the league.
The Hawkeyes also seem to be on the rise, however, advancing to their first postseason tournament in quite some time.
A solid recruiting class and plenty of returning talent should get Iowa back into the NCAA Tournament in the near future.
9. Penn State Nittany Lions
2008-09 27-11 (10-8) T-4th NIT Champions
2009-10 11-20 (3-15) 11th
2010-11 19-15 (9-9) T-4th NCAA First Round
2011-12 12-20 (4-14) T-11th
Total 69-66 (26-46)
Penn State University has had two very good seasons and two awful ones over the last four years.
After being snubbed from NCAA Tournament play in 2009, the Nittany Lions went
on to win the NIT. They finished last in the Big Ten the following year and had a number of players transfer from the university.
In 2011, the Lions got over the hump and made the Big Dance only to lose on a last second shot to Temple University.
Coach Ed Dechellis bolted for the Naval Academy after that season, and new head coach Patrick Chambers had a tough first year in Happy Valley.
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers
2008-09 22-11 (9-9) T-7th NCAA First Round
2009-10 21-14 (9-9) 6th NCAA First Round
2010-11 17-14 (6-12) 9th
2011-12 23-15 (6-12) 10th NIT Runner Up
Total 83-54 (30-42)
After back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, the University of Minnesota have faded down the stretch over the last two season and missed playing in March Madness.
Reaching the NIT Championship game in 2012 helped ease the pain of a disappointing season.
Trevor Mbakwe will be back this season, along with plenty of returning players.
So choking late this season will not be acceptable for Tubby Smith's bunch. Anything less than an NCAA Tournament this year would be failure.
7. Northwestern Wildcats
2008-09 17-14 (8-10) 9th NIT First Round
2009-10 20-14 (7-11) 7th NIT First Round
2010-11 20-14 (7-11) 8th NIT Quarterfinals
2011-12 19-14 (8-10) 7th NIT Second Round
Total 76-56 (30-42)
Despite not making the NCAA Tournament over the past four years—Northwestern University gets the nod over Minnesota despite having the exact same conference record over the past four seasons.
The Wildcats never missed the postseason however, with four consecutive NIT appearances.
The Wildcats have lost 14 games each of the past four years, reaching 20 wins twice and winning three games in the NIT during that same span.
John Shurna, the school's All-Time Leading Scorer, graduated and was recently signed to the New York Knicks.
6. Illinois Fighting Illini
2008-09 24-10 (11-7) T-2nd NCAA First Round
2009-10 21-15 (10-8) 5th NIT Quarterfinals
2010-11 20-14 (9-9) 4th NCAA Second Round
2011-12 17-15 (6-12) 9th
Total 82-54 (36-36)
After a surprisingly good season my freshman year, Illinois' basketball team has been nothing but a disappointment.
Though the squad was snubbed from the tournament field in 2010, it reached it and defeated the University of Nevada Las Vegas in the tournament in 2011.
The 2012 season was obviously the worst of my four years, as Illinois raced out to a 15-3 record only to finish 17-15 and miss any postseason tournaments.
Coach Bruce Weber was fired following the season, but John Groce looks to have recruiting for the upcoming season intact.
5. Michigan Wolverines
2008-09 21-14 (9-9) T-7th NCAA Second Round
2009-10 15-17 (7-11) T-7th
2010-11 21-14 (9-9) T-4th NCAA Second Round
2011-12 24-10 (13-5) T-1st NCAA First Round
Total 81-55 (38-34)
After reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2009, the University of Michigan's Wolverines had high expectations in 2010.
The team did not reach any postseason tournament, though, and lost Manny Harris to the NBA.
The 2011 season was a pleasant surprise—thanks largely to Darius Morris—and Michigan got back to the tournament.
Following Morris' departure from Ann Arbor, the team rebounded and won a share of the Big Ten Title in 2012. Expectations are through the roof for the Wolverines this season, as well as the future, as top-notch recruits are coming in to join Trey Burke's team.
4. Wisconsin Badgers
2008-09 20-13 (10-8) T-4th NCAA Second Roun
2009-10 24-9 (13-5) 4th NCAA Second Round
2010-11 25-9 (13-5) 3rd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2011-12 26-10 (12-6) 4th NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Total 94-41 (48-24)
It seems fitting that the University of Wisconsin is placed fourth on this list, after three fourth-place finishes during the last four years.
In fact, Bo Ryan has never finished worse than four place during his time as the Badger's head coach, although some are picking UW to do just that this coming season.
Six NCAA Tournament victories over four years is certainly nothing to hang your head over.
However, during his tenure, Ryan's squad has only advanced past the Sweet Sixteen once and has never reached the Final Four.
3. Purdue Boilermakers
2008-09 27-10 (11-7) 2nd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2009-10 29-6 (14-4) T-1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2010-11 26-8 (14-4) 2nd NCAA Second Round
2011-12 22-13 (10-8) 6th NCAA Second Round
Total 104-37 (49-23)
After going 15-3 in Big Ten games as freshmen, Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore's careers together never reached their full potential.
Much of that can be attributed to Hummel's constant injuries, though.
Still, Purdue won a share of a Big Ten Title, and it finished in second place the other three seasons.
The Boilermakers, however, could never advance past the Sweet Sixteen despite having Final Four talent on their roster.
Purdue is looking to rebuild following the loss of these great players.
2. Michigan State Spartans
2008-09 31-7 (15-3) 1st NCAA Runner Up
2009-10 28-9 (14-4) T-1st NCAA Final Four
2010-11 19-15 (9-9) T-4th NCAA First Round
2011-12 29-8 (13-5) T-1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Total 107-39 (51-21)
Michigan State University has made multiple Final Four appearances over the past four seasons and is the only Big Ten team to reach the NCAA Tournament Championship.
Still, the Spartans find themselves second on this list, even though they won three conference titles.
The 2010-11 season is a big reason why MSU doesn't top this list.
Draymond Green graduated and is currently playing for the Golden State Warriors. But no one in East Lansing is lowering their expectations for the future despite losing one of the program's all-time greats.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
2008-09 22-11 (10-8) 5th Place NCAA First Round
2009-10 29-8 (14-4) T-1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2010-11 34-3 (16-2) 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2011-12 31-8 (13-5) T-1st NCAA Final Four
Total 116-30 (53-19)
So how does Michigan State not top this list? Because Ohio State University plays in the Big Ten and has won three consecutive conference titles.
The Buckeyes reached the Final Four in 2012, only to blow a big lead to the University of Kansas and fall to the Jayhawks.
Overall, Ohio has not had the same success as Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament.
However, the Buckeyes' overall and Big Ten records are better than the Spartans over this period. As well, Ohio State has been able to produce more NBA talent and reload.
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