We continue our countdown of the best Big Ten programs of the past decade. Prior articles in this series can be found here:
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Penn State Nittany Lions
- Northwestern Wildcats
- Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Illinois Fighting Illini
- Iowa Hawkeyes
As a reminder, we’ll be looking at eight categories for each program. The first four are the only ones that had any bearing on the ranking:
- Big Ten regular-season winning percentage
- Number of teams finishing ahead in the Big Ten standings
- Big Ten regular season titles
- Big Ten Tournament titles
- Team of the Decade
- Player of the Decade
- Regular Season Win of the Decade
- Regular Season Crushing Loss of the Decade
Our first entry in the top half of the league is the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana was hot and cold over the past decade, starting out in the depths of post-Sampson hell, climbing up to the top of the mountain, and then causing an avalanche and falling down the other side. They were one of two teams to finish both alone in first and alone in last over the past ten years. (The other was Purdue.)
Big Ten Winning Percentage
Indiana finished the 2010s with a .478 winning percentage in the Big Ten. That’s a losing record. If you toss out 2010 since the Hoosiers weren’t up to speed yet (though I don’t really think that’s fair, since it’s their own fault they hired Kelvin Sampson, and it wasn’t the NCAA sanctions that crippled the program so much as the fact that Sampson brought in a bunch of low-character guys who would rather smoke weed than go to class who then had to be kicked off the team), they do finish above .500, but there’s still a giant gulf between them and the next-best winning percentage.
Teams Finishing Ahead of Indiana
Indiana finished below the exact same number of teams as Iowa, 56. As we’ve already pointed out, the Hoosiers finished both alone in first and alone in last, which means that they have been ahead of everyone else and below everyone else at some point. (Except Rutgers, who didn’t get a full ten years in the league.)
Big Ten Regular Season Titles
The Hoosiers are the first team in the power rankings to have won the Big Ten. In fact, they did it twice, in 2013 and 2016. Both were outright titles. No other team won more than one outright title. The lone player on both of those title teams is Yogi Ferrell. (The last player before Yogi to be a meaningful contributor on two outright Big Ten championship teams? Ron Lewis.)
Big Ten Tournament Titles
None in the 2010s. Or ever. Indiana has to be the best college basketball program to never have won its conference tournament. Over the past decade, despite the two outright regular season titles, the Hoosiers never even made the Big Ten Tournament finals. It gets worse. They only made the semifinals once. They lost on Thursday (five years) more often they made Friday’s quarterfinals (four years). Wtf, Hoosiers?
Team of the Decade
The 2013 team had a starting five of Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls, and Yogi Ferrell. That’s a better starting five than any other Big Ten school had in the 2010s, and it’s better than all but about four or five schools nationwide. The 2013 team won the Big Ten, was ranked No. 1 in the country, and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They beat Purdue by 38 at Mackey Arena, the worst beatdown in that venue’s history. They were really, really good.
(We won’t mention what happened against Syracuse.)
Player of the Decade
Given how highly-regarded Cody Zeller was as a high school recruit—seriously, if you lived in Southern Indiana when Zeller was at Washington, people spoke about the kid like he was Basketball Jesus—and the fact that he was the alpha dog on that 2013 team, it seems impossible that anybody else could take Player of the Decade instead of him. But if we’re going to factor in the way people felt about Zeller before college, we also need to factor in the way people felt about Vic Oladipo after college. Oladipo is the current cornerstone of the Indiana Pacers, which means he’s not just part of the past, he’s also a part of the present and future hopes of Hoosier state residents, even the Purdue fans.
Regular Season Win of the Decade
December 10, 2011.
Y’all already know what this is. This moment is framed and mounted on candy-striped walls up and down the state of Indiana.
Indiana 73, Kentucky 72.
Regular Season Crushing Loss of the Decade
December 18, 2017.
What’s worse for an Indiana fan than losing to Purdue? How about losing to Purdue Fort Wayne. At home. By 20. After also having lost to them the year before.
Technically they were still IPFW at the time, but the tin-foil hatted among you might notice that the “Indiana” part of “Indiana University—Purdue University, Fort Wayne” was dropped shortly after this game. Hmm.
That Fort Wayne team also featured Bryson Scott, formerly of the big Purdue in West Lafayette. Scott went 5-0 against the Hoosiers in his college career, netting three wins as a Boilermaker and two more as a Mastodon. (And his twin brother Brenton was on the Indiana State team that beat the Hoosiers at home to open the 2017-18 season.)
Fake Real Internet Quote That Puts It All In Perspective
—T-shirt for sale in Bloomington, Indiana
Whether that shirt applies more to the Watford Shot game or the IPFW game depends on if you’re a fan of the Hoosiers or of one of the other thirteen Big Ten schools.