The Big Ten hasn’t had all that much trouble getting to the National Championship Game in the NCAA Tournament over the past 18 years. The conference just hasn’t been able to win the big game.
Since Michigan State’s national championship in 2000 — the last for any Big Ten team — the conference has gone 0-6 in the National Championship Game. Michigan is hoping to break that skid Monday night in San Antonio.
The Wolverines enter the 2018 National Championship Game on a 14-game winning streak after beating Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four on Saturday night. The Wolverines can help restore some conference pride with a 15th consecutive win.
The Big Ten’s 18-year national championship drought in men’s basketball is the second longest of any Power 5 conference. The Pac-12 has not won a title since Arizona cut down the nets in 1997. But the Pac-12 has only made two title games in the last 21 seasons.
Big Ten teams have watched opponents celebrate on six occasions since 2002, and have lost their last six national championship appearances by an average of 9 points.
Below is a brief history of the conference’s recent history of falling short in the final game of the NCAA Tournament.
Big Ten’s recent history of coming up short in National Championship Game
2002: Maryland 64, Indiana 52
The Hoosiers made a surprising run to the National Championship Game in 2002 during Mike Davis’ second season in Bloomington. Indiana, as a No. 5 seed, took down top-seeded Duke and No. 2 seed Oklahoma on its way to the title game. But the Hoosiers offense, led that season by Jared Jeffries, fell flat in the title game. Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter and Gary Williams hoisted the trophy, making Maryland (then a member of the ACC) the last team currently in the Big Ten to win a national title.
2005: North Carolina 75, Illinois 70
The Illini had a memorable run in 2005. Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head led an unbelievable comeback vs. Arizona in the Elite Eight, and the top-seeded Illini beat Louisville handily in the Final Four. But Bruce Weber’s team came up just short against the Tar Heels in the title game as Roy Williams won his first national title at North Carolina.
2007: Florida 84, Ohio State 75
With freshman big man sensation Greg Oden, Ohio State lost just four games during the 2006-07 season. The last defeat came in the Buckeyes’ final game. Thad Matta’s top-seeded Buckeyes just missed on a national title 11 years ago as Billy Donovan’s Gators won their second national championship in a row. Oden had 25 points and 12 rebounds in the title game, but it wasn’t enough against a Florida squad that featured Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer.
2009: North Carolina 89, Michigan State 72
Michigan State had a chance to win a national championship in its home state. But at Ford Field in Detroit, the Spartans got blown out by North Carolina in 2009. Tom Izzo’s team had three impressive wins — over Kansas, Louisville and Connecticut — to reach the National Championship Game, but it was all Tar Heels on April 6, 2009. Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough each scored at least 18 points in a game North Carolina led by 21 points at halftime.
2013: Louisville 82, Michigan 76
Trey Burke led the fourth-seeded Wolverines to the title game in 2013 — most memorably with a deep 3-pointer against Kansas in the Sweet 16. It was an impressive piece of coaching by John Beilein during his sixth season at Michigan, but his team couldn’t close in a game it once led by 12 points. Louisville’s title has since been vacated.
2015: Duke 68, Wisconsin 63
The Badgers were the last Big Ten team to make the title game until Michigan accomplished it with a win over Loyola-Chicago on Saturday. Bo Ryan’s team upset Kentucky in the Final Four but was not able to get it done against Duke in the championship. Tyus Jones had 23 points in the title game for the Blue Devils, outscoring Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, who finished with 21.