Does a top heavy Big Ten conference push a program to Dallas?
This year’s Big Ten has been nothing short of a gauntlet as the conference continues to solidify itself as the premier, top-heavy league nationally in the last few years. Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and Ohio State currently sit in the AP top 20. And after Selection Sunday, the Big 10 has the most top four seeds out of all the power five conferences.
For Indiana (26-2, 15-2 Big Ten), winning the Big Ten regular season has been everything but easy. In year nine of coach Teri Moren tenure, the Hoosiers posted their best regular season finish ever, capping it with the program’s second Big Ten regular season title and first since 1982.
Picture Credit: Iowa Athletics
How tight was the Big Ten regular season race this year you ask? Just one game separated three teams (Indiana, Maryland, Iowa) from a three-way tie atop the conference. This year’s tournament was must-see TV, with sensational guard play of national player of the year candidate Caitlin Clark and her unlimited range, to the explosive guard play fueled by the athleticism of Maryland’s Diamond Miller, to the mid-post and three-point threat of Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes and Grace Berger.
However, even with all the prolific teams the Big Ten will have in the field, deep tournament history runs have not been favorable for the conference. The Big Ten has not been to the Final Four since Brenda Frese and Maryland reached Tampa in 2015, and the conference has yet to claim a national champion program in this century, with the 1999 Purdue Boilermakers the last to hoist the trophy. It seems that it may be year one of these tried-and-true programs break the ice and put the Big Ten back on the level of Final Four excellence.