Wednesday, March 7, 2007

BTT history.

I know it makes me a bit of a pariah among college basketball fans in general and a full-fledged blasphemer in the traditionalist wing of the IU fan base, but I like the Big Ten Tournament. Certainly, I’m glad that the Big Ten doesn’t consider its tournament winner the “conference champion” (I believe that the ACC and Big East both consider the tournament champion to be the conference champion) and I don’t like that it takes away from the number of regular season conference games. Unlike one-bid leagues, the winner of the automatic bid nearly always would have been in anyway (in the nine year history of the BTT, Iowa’s 2001team is the only champion that entered the tournament on the bubble, and still may have been in had they lost to IU in the 2001 final on the strength of their three previous wins in the tournament). On the other hand, ten Big Ten games, all televised, all on neutral courts, in a four day span. What’s not to like? The games on days three and four almost always feature quality matchups, as does the 4-5 game on day two. Days one and two often have significant bubble implications.

The Big Ten has a nice summary page setting forth the history of the tournament. Here’s some info divined from that:

Tournament champions

Illinois, 2 (2003, 2005)
Iowa, 2 (2001, 2006)
Michigan State, 2 (1999, 2000)
Michigan, 1 (1998)
Ohio State, 1 (2002)
Wisconsin, 1 (2004)

Most wins

Illinois, 16
Iowa, 13
Michigan State, 10
Ohio State, 10
Wisconsin, 9
Indiana, 8
Michigan, 6
Minnesota, 6
Penn State, 5
Northwestern, 4
Purdue, 3

Winning percentage

Illinois, .695
Iowa, .650
Michigan State, .588
Ohio State, .556
Wisconsin, .529
Indiana, .470
Michigan, .400
Minnesota, .400
Penn State, .357
Northwestern, .307
Purdue, .250

Last to lose a BTT game for the first time: Michigan, which won its first four before losing to Ohio State in the 1999 quarterfinals. As far as the NCAA is concerned, none of that ever happened, but if we actually disregarded all of the games played by OSU, Michigan, and Minnesota at various points, we wouldn’t have much left.

Last to win a BTT game for the first time: Iowa in 2000. Penn State won its first earlier in the same day.
  • Wow, has Purdue been awful in the Big Ten Tournament. The Boilers have had four NCAA Tournament teams during the BTT era, but after advancing to the final game of the first BTT, Purdue has only one win in the last eight tournaments, a 2001 win in the 8/9 game over Minnesota. Purdue’s current six-game losing streak is the longest in BTT history.
  • This is no surprise to anyone who has followed the BTT, but Iowa is the main outlier. The wins and winning percentage rankings pretty closely follow conference performance during that period. Purdue is a bit low, but Iowa, ranking #2 in wins and winning percentage and tied for first in number of titles, has overachieved in the BTT.
  • Along those lines, Steve Alford, in seven Big Ten tournaments, has all 13 of Iowa’s wins, more than any other coach. Tom Izzo is second with 10 wins, but he has been at Michigan State since the BTT’s inception(he’s the only Big Ten coach who can say that). Bo Ryan has five wins in the BTT. He has been at Wisconsin only since 2002. Illinois’s 16 wins are allocated among three coaches: Lon Kruger (6), Bill Self (5), and Bruce Weber (5). Ohio State’s Jim O’Brien won 7 BTT games, as did Mike Davis. Bob Knight’s only BTT win was against #11 Ohio State in IU’s first BTT game in 1998.
  • Illinois won its first BTT game every year until 2006. IU, which lost its first game only in 1999, 2000, and 2005, is second only to Illinois in first-game performance. Of course, that stat does not distinguish between teams with and without a first round bye.
  • Of the #1 seeds, only Michigan State in 1999 and Illinois in 2005 won the tournament. It is fitting that only Iowa has defeated two #1 seeds. Minnesota, Penn State, Indiana, Ohio State, and Wisconsin have all defeated one top seed.
  • The class of 2001 was the fourth year of the Big Ten Tournament, meaning that the league's seniors had experienced the tournament every year. Since then, only three senior classes have failed to win a Big Ten Tournament game in their four years: Penn State '05, Purdue '05, and Purdue '06.

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