On Saturday night, the Wisconsin Badgers got their revenge against the Kentucky Wildcats and will move on to play in the National Championship game on Monday night. In the process, Wisconsin notched off its most impressive win of the season and continued a recent run of Big Ten success.
Since 2000, the Big Ten has now put as many teams in the National Championship game as any other conference. It's not a stat that gets talked about that often, but it is one that is significant and speaks to the strength of the conference, especially at the top. Here is how the conferences stacks up.
Title Game Appearances Since 2000
- 7 - ACC, Big Ten
- 5 - SEC
- 4 - Big East
- 3 - Big 12
- 2 - Horizon, Pac 12
- 1 - AAC, Conference USA
Of course, in today's age, these type of comparisons become a little more complicated with conference realignment. For instance, every team that made a title game appearance for the Big East since 2000 is now either in the AAC or the ACC. As such, there is a question of how these numbers should be calculated, but the list above is simply calculated based on the conference where the team was located at the time of making the title game.
One particularly interesting note about the Big Ten's appearances is the number of teams that have made an appearance. Unlike several other conference who only had a team or two teams appear, the Big Ten has seen Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin all make the title game since 2000. Here is how the Big Ten holds up against other conferences in this regard.
Teams To Make The Title Game Since 2000
- 6 - Big Ten
- 4 - ACC
- 3 - Big East
- 2 - Pac 12, SEC
- 1 - AAC, Big 12, Conference USA, Horizon
This is the comparison where you really can see the depth of the conference. It's certainly great for conferences like the ACC and SEC to have teams like Duke and Kentucky that are in contention on a yearly basis, but it also says a lot about the Big Ten to have as many appearances as any other conference and do it with a diversity of different teams. Michigan State has made it twice, but otherwise it's been a group effort.
Another point of interest is the fact that the Big Ten has made so many different appearances, but has been unable to win a championship since 2000. The lack of a national championship for the Big Ten has grown into a constant criticism and something the conference is desperately looking to overcome on Monday. Still, it really is remarkable that the Big Ten has been unable to win since 2000 given how many times they have gotten there.
Wisconsin won an incredible game on Saturday night, but it was only the latest in the Big Ten's recent run of success in the national semi-finals. If the Badgers can get on the win on Monday night over a very talented Duke Blue Devil team, the Big Ten's recent NCAA Tournament performance could really reach a different level.