It started off well for Michigan last night in its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament Championship Game of the John Beilein era. The Wolverines jumped out to a 21-14 lead after nine minutes of play, and they were looking comfortable on offense with Moritz Wagner leading the charge.
Unfortunately for Michigan, Villanova happened.
The Wildcats defense stepped up to shut down the Michigan offense in the first half, and Villanova entered the locker room with a 37-28 first half lead. The second half completely belonged to Villanova, and they ended the night with their second National Championship in three years.
This marks yet another final loss for a Big Ten team. You can’t hold it against Michigan that it lost this game. Villanova is an excellent team, and the odds were against the Wolverines from the start. But this loss does continue a trend for the conference.
No Big Ten team has won the National Title since Michigan State in 2000 — Maryland in 2002 doesn’t count because they were in the ACC.
The conference has also made a unfortunate habit of losing in the final. Since 2000, the Big Ten has had 13 teams make the Final Four, and seven of those went on to the National Title game. However, all of those teams lost.
- 2002 - (5) Indiana loses to (1) Maryland
- 2005 - (1) Illinois loses to (1) North Carolina - I hate Sean May
- 2007 - (1) Ohio State loses to (1) Florida
- 2009 - (2) Michigan State loses to (1) North Carolina
- 2013 - (4) Michigan loses to (1) Louisville
- 2015 - (1) Wisconsin loses to (1) Duke
- 2018 - (3) Michigan loses to (1) Villanova
During this time, the only conference with more appearances in the championship game is the ACC with nine, but the ACC has won seven titles compared to the Big Ten’s zero. The Big Ten is also tied with the ACC with 13 teams in the Final Four since 2000. The SEC has three titles in four tries. The Big East — even through the conference has undergone a facelift — is 6-for-6 since 2000.
So what gives?
The Big Ten has been incredibly successful in sending teams to the Final Four, and to the Championship Game, but it has nothing to show for it since Michigan State won in 2000.
Part of it could just be coincidence. The Big Ten team was only favored in one of these games — starts drinking. Maybe it’s just bad luck.
Could it point to the Big Ten, while being an excellent basketball conference top to bottom, not producing truly elite teams consistently enough? Did Jim Delany sell his soul? (Jim Delany 100% sold his soul.)
Ohio State also lost the BCS Title game in football in back-to-back seasons in 2006 and 2007 — however they did win the National Championship in 2002 and 2015 — and the Big Ten further had two embarrassing shutouts in the College Football Playoff in 2016 and 2017.
So, really. What the hell is going on here?
The Big Ten has proven itself to be one of the top conferences in basketball and football in recent memory, but more often than not Big Ten teams fail to win in semi-finals and finals since the dawn of the new millenium.
This is just silly.