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4 Days to B1G Basketball: Is History on Wisconsin's Side To Repeat in the NCAA Tournament?

Today we continue our daily countdown towards the tipoff of the Big Ten basketball season.

Jamie Squire

Wisconsin made it to the Final Four last season before losing a nail biter to Kentucky by a single point. The Badgers were another Big Ten team to come close to winning a NCAA Championship, with Michigan State being the last team to do so back in 2000. The question now is if the Badgers will be able to repeat last years success and get back to the Final Four, as well as if they can win the entire thing this time around.

So for today's post we'll take a look at what other teams in the Big Ten have recently done in their following season after reaching the Final Four. There should be two notable caveats with this post, though:

- Wisconsin returns considerably more talent than most Final Four teams typically do
- The NCAA Tournament itself is often a crapshoot, with teams getting hot at the right time often faring better than more talented squads (hence Butler's back to back title game appearances and things like Connecticut's title run last year)

Taking that into consideration, it leaves Wisconsin in an interesting position. With only guard Ben Brust and forward Zach Bohannon departing, the team returns pretty much everyone of value. Hyped All-American candidate Frank Kaminsky is back, as are guys like Sam Dekker and Josh Gasser. Long time starting point guard Traevon Jackson and sixth man Nigel Hayes also return, as well as most of the bench. That being said, like mentioned above the NCAA Tournament typically benefits teams that get hot in March so even if Wisconsin may be one of the most talented teams in the nation it could mean very little when the postseason actually begins.

Historically things aren't exactly on Wisconsin's side, either. Since 2001 the Big Ten has sent nine teams (not counting Maryland) to the Final Four and all of these teams had at least somewhat of a drop off the following season.

Year Team Result Next Year's Result
2001 Michigan State Lost in Final Four Lost in First Round
2002 Indiana Lost in Title Game Lost in Second Round
2005 Illinois Lost in Title Game Lost in Second Round
2005 Michigan State Lost in Final Four Lost in First Round
2007 Ohio State Lost in Title Game No NCAA Tournament
2009 Michigan State Lost in Title Game Lost in Final Four
2010 Michigan State Lost in Final Four Lost in Second Round
2012 Ohio State Lost in Final Four Lost in Elite 8
2013 Michigan Lost in Title Game Lost in Elite 8

Yikes. While the Badgers may return a loaded roster the reality is since 2001 no team from the Big Ten that has reached the Final Four has matched that success the next season, all falling earlier the year after. Michigan State has been the only team to make it to back to back Final Fours, following up a title game loss with a Final Four appearance in 2010. Not exactly thrilling news for Wisconsin fans.

And to further back the randomness of the NCAA Tournament, only two teams since 2001 have entered the tournament ranked first in the nation and would go on to win the entire thing. The first was Duke in 2001 and the second being Kentucky in 2012. As for #1 seeds, you have to go back to 2009 for a season where more than one #1 seed made it to the Final Four.

So while Wisconsin has the roster, that could mean very little come March and April. At the very least it means very little historically. As for overwhelming Big Ten favorites heading into the season, just ask Michigan State fans how that can turn out. The overwhelming favorites across the board last year, the Spartans ultimately finished three games out of first place, fell to a #4 seed and couldn't make it to the Final Four after losing to eventual champs Connecticut.