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The Big Ten Took A Significant Hit In Early NCAA Tournament Play

As three teams departed including #2 Ohio State

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Wisconsin v Duke
 INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 06: The Duke Blue Devils celebrate with the championship trophy after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers during the NCAA Men’s Final Four Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Duke defeated Wisconsin 68-63.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

This has been a disappointing tournament for the ACC so far, but not much was expected from the conference this year and Virginia is still the last national champion, if not exactly defending.

The Big Ten?

That’s another story.

There was a lot of talk about how mighty the Big Ten was this season and how historically dominant a season it has had.

But as Dan Wolken points out over at USAToday, most of the alleged strength of the conference comes from conference play and not so much against outside teams.

This is obviously because the pandemic changed the season from beginning to end but he still has a point. Michigan State was dreadful against UCLA, #2 seed Ohio State lost to #15 Oral Roberts and Purdue lost to North Texas.

That’s a full third of the bids from a conference, that, unlike this year’s ACC, was supposed to be on top of the heap.

Rutgers and Wisconsin advanced and did so by beating two ACC teams, UNC and Clemson. Illinois also beat Drexel, as was expected.

Saturday should be better. #1 Michigan gets #16 Texas Southern, #2 Iowa faces #15 Grand Canyon and #10 Maryland takes on #7 UConn.

UConn winning would follow the seeding but if either of the other two lose, it’s a disastrous tournament for the Big Ten, at least early.

By the way, here’s how the championships this century break down. We’ll start with 2000 even though a new century begins with 1 and ends in 0.

  • ACC - 8
  • Big East - 6
  • SEC - 3
  • Big 12 - 1
  • Big Ten - 1 (Michigan State in 2000)

In fact, since Kentucky won in 2012, either an ACC or Big East team has won every title. And take out the three-year stretch of Florida, Florida and Kansas from 2006-08 and Kentucky in 2012, the two conferences have won everything else since the start of the new century.

Caveat: Louisville’s 2013 title was stripped and UNC’s 2005 and 2009 came during a massive period of academic fraud.

Even so, it’s impressive. The ACC has had a massive run and the Big East’s is not far behind.