Look at the brackets for the NCAAs Sweet 16 and you will find:
- Teams from the Missouri Confrence: 3
- Teams from the Big Twelve: 1
- Teams from the Big Ten: 0
Now as it happens, the two Missouri Conference teams will have to face each other for their chance to make it to the Elite Eight, but that means the Missouri Conference will have at least one team in the Elite Eight, at least equal to the Big Twelve and more than the Big Ten can muster.
While not necessarily indicative of the talent historically (Big Ten teams have regularly made it to the final four, sometimes two at a time), it is definitely indicative of how things went this year. Not Big Ten team was able to win on the road — usually a sign of a team able to handle the pressure of win-or-die games which is the hallmark of the NCAA basketball tourney.
Maybe next year will see the Big Ten teams return to their usual form. Or maybe not — depending on which team you’re talking about. While many of the other teams will probably continue with their intra-conference strength, MSU has a threat coming from Ann Arbor.
That’s right: The ever present Wolverines.
One of the reasons Spartan fans try to minimize the school to the southeast is simply because whenever that school has decided to pay attention to something, it has effortlessly bypassed MSU. It happened with football in 1968, it happened with Hockey in the late eighties, and it looks like it might happen with basketball, with UofM getting more mentions on the radio as being on (or near the) top of the Big Ten conference. While I hope it doesn’t mean the end of Tom Izzo’s tenure at MSU, it would appear he may have to work harder to keep the team competitive.