Ohio State basketball: Why does the Big Ten fail in March Madness?

Every year the Big Ten is touted as one of the best basketball conferences in the country. Chris Holtmann has said it himself. He’s mentioned that the Ohio State basketball team has to play one of the toughest schedules every year because of how tough the rest of the conference is.

And yet despite being lauded as one of the best conferences year after year, the Big Ten hasn’t had a team win the national championship since 2000. That will once again be the case this year after Michigan State lost on Thursday night in overtime to Kansas State. All Big Ten teams are now eliminated from March Madness.

Tom Izzo’s team was the team that won it all in 2000. Since then, a number of Big Ten teams have played in the national championship game only to come up short. IU did it in 2002, Illinois in 2005, the Ohio State basketball team did it in 2007, Michigan State in 2009, Michigan in 2013 and 2018, and Wisconsin in 2015.

None of those teams were able to break the drought. So why is that? What’s wrong with the Big Ten? Why can’t the conference win a championship? There are several factors to why the Big Ten still has that championship drought going.

One of them is that the Big Ten usually has a lot of good but not great teams in it. A lot of the teams beat each other up in conference play and don’t rise to the top. Even when they get a number-one seed, they aren’t viewed as a truly dominant force. That happened with Purdue this year.

The coaches in the Big Ten have also fallen off in terms of quality. John Beilein left Michigan to take an NBA job that lasted all of about a half a season. Thad Matta got fired and replaced him with a guy who can’t win in March. Bo Ryan retired. Matt Painter chokes with great teams every year.

Only Tom Izzo is a coach that the league can count on every year. Even so, his teams can’t quite get it done in the last 20 years. So what needs to change to get the conference a national title? Better coaches would be the first place to start in my opinion.

We’ll see if next year is the year the conference can break the spell. For now, the Big Ten will watch the rest of the tournament on their couches.