College Basketball

Michigan State Basketball Coach Tom Izzo Says Big Ten is Best Conference in College Basketball, But March Madness Data Disagrees

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Tom Izzo, Michigan State’s storied head coach, has been a staple in the Big Ten for nearly three decades. With such a long history, it’s no surprise that Izzo is a staunch supporter of the conference. However, despite his recent claims that the Big Ten is the best league in the country, the statistics tell a different story.

Izzo Says Big Ten is the Best Conference in the Country

“I have no problem saying we have the best league in college basketball,” Izzo remarked. This statement came after Michigan State’s Sweet Sixteen loss to Kansas State on Thursday, meaning yet another NCAA tournament without a Big Ten team in the Elite Eight.

Although Izzo expressed pride in his team and the league, a closer look at the numbers reveals some discrepancies.

Over the last three years, 26 teams from the Big Ten have made the NCAA Tournament. However, just one team has progressed to the Elite Eight. This is hardly evidence of a dominant league. Furthermore, the Big Ten hasn’t claimed a championship since 2000.

Stats Don’t Lie

To put these numbers into perspective, let’s take a look at how other conferences have fared during the same period:

Conference Championships Won Years Won
ACC 8 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2019
Big East 5* 2003, 2004, 2011, 2013*, 2016, 2018
SEC 3 2006, 2007, 2012
Big 12 3 2008, 2021, 2022
AAC 1 2014

*Louisville’s 2013 National Championship was later vacated

The table above shows that the ACC has won eight championships since 2001, followed by the Big East with five. The SEC and Big 12 have both claimed three titles, while the AAC has just one. It’s important to note that Louisville’s 2013 championship, initially credited to the Big East, was later vacated due to NCAA violations.

In light of these facts, it’s difficult to agree with Tom Izzo’s assertion that the Big Ten is the best league in the country. The conference’s performance in recent years pales in comparison to the ACC and even the Big East. While the Big Ten has produced some competitive teams, its overall record doesn’t support Izzo’s claim.

Although we won’t go so far as to call Tom Izzo deluded, his opinion certainly seems biased and is not supported by the statistics. As a legendary coach in the Big Ten, his pride is understandable, but the numbers don’t lie: the Big Ten is not the best conference in college basketball.

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