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Close but No Cigar - B1G NCAA Tournament Runners-Up 2000-present

Michigan becomes B1G team #7 to join this list.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Michigan vs Villanova Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports

With Michigan’s 79-62 loss to Villanova in the 2018 National Championship game, the 2017-18 Wolverines join an ever-growing list of Big Ten teams who came within one game of cutting down the nets and winning the National Championship. Listed below are the conference’s runners-up from 2000 onward.

  • 2002 Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana versus Duke in the 2002 Sweet 16

Mike Davis’ Hoosiers were the Cinderella team for the 2002 NCAA Tournament, parlaying a 19-10 regular season into a deep NCAA Tournament run. The highlight came when Indiana knocked off #1 ranked Duke in the Sweet 16 74-73. Victories over Kent State in the Elite 8 and Oklahoma in the National Semi-Finals earned the Hoosiers a match-up against Gary Williams’ Maryland Terrapins for the National Championship. However, Indiana’s luck ran out as Maryland earned a 64-52 victory and the school’s only National Championship. (And yes I’ll restate that 2001-02 Maryland is the present B1G member to most recently win the NCAA Tournament.)

  • 2005 Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois versus Louisville in the 2005 Final Four
AP / Ryan McKee

If there were any justice in the world, given North Carolina’s issues with certain ‘courses’, the 2004-05 Fighting Illini would be National Champions. Bruce Weber’s team only suffered one regular-season loss (at Ohio State by 1 point in the regular-season finale) and breezed past Northwestern, Minnesota, and Wisconsin for the Big Ten Tournament title. After easily advancing through the first 3 rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Illinois staged a furrious comeback against Arizona in the Elite 8 to score an overtime victory in Rosemont. The Illini disptached Louisville in the National Semi-Finals; however, Roy Williams’ Tar Heels scored a 75-70 victory to deny Illinois the National Championship.

  • 2007 Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State versus Tennessee in the 2007 Sweet 16
Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Ohio State earned their 9th Final Four and 5th National Championship game appearance in 2007 after going 27-3 in the regular season and defeating Michigan, Purdue, and Wisconsin to win the Big 10 Tournament. In the NCAA Tournament the Buckeyes scored victories over Central Connecticut State, in-state Xavier, (Bruce Pearl-coached) Tennessee, and (John Calipari-coached) Memphis to get to the Final Four. After knocking off Georgetown in the National Semi-Finals, the Buckeyes lost to Florida 84-75 in the National Championship game (where Urban Meyer was probably rooting for the Gators in this match-up).

  • 2009 Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State versus UConn in the 2009 Final Four
Chris Steppig/NCAA Photos

For 2009 Michigan State had the opportunity to make it 3-for-3 in National Championship game appearances (after winning in 1979 and 2000). Tom Izzo’s Spartans only lost 5 times in the regular season (one of those losses was against North Carolina - hold that thought). Ohio State upset Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals (must not have been raining that day). Once in the NCAA Tournament Michigan State advanced past Robert Morris, Southern Cal, (defending National Champion) Kansas, Louisville, and UConn to earn a rematch with North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament Finals. In the National Championship game though, Roy Williams’ ‘student athletes’ defeated Michigan State 89-72; denying the Spartans a perfect 3-for-3 in NCAA Tournament Finals appearances.

  • 2013 Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Celebrating a 61-56 Victory over Syracuse in the 2013 Final Four

The 2012-13 Michigan Wolverines weren’t exactly the prototype National Championship game participant. Michigan only 12-6 in conference play, good for a 4th place tie, and 25-6 overall. After losing to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament, the Wolverines earned a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s South Region. After defeating South Dakota State and Virginia Commonwealth, Michigan upset #1 seed and #3 ranked Kansas in overtime to advance to the Elite 8, where they knocked off Florida to get to the Final Four. A victory over Syracuse in the National Semi-Finals got the Wolverines to the finals, where they lost to Louisville 82-76: a (very) tainted National Championship for the Cardinals.

  • 2015 Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin versus Maryland - February 24, 2015
Patrick Semansky / AP

2014-15 was one of the best seasons for Wisconsin basketball. Bo Ryan’s Badgers went 28-3 in the regular season. After losing at (“ACC Team”) Maryland on February 24, the Badgers didn’t lose again until the NCAA Tournament Finals. However, in the finals Wisconsin was matched up against another ACC Team: Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils. Duke staged a comeback in Indianapolis - with the help of a flop or 2 - to knock off Wisconsin 68-63 to yet again deny the Big Ten the National Championship.

  • 2018 Michigan Wolverines
Michigan’s Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman Scoring Against Texas A&M in the 2018 Sweet 16
AP Photo/Jae Hong

Similar to their 2013 appearance, the 2017-18 Michigan Wolverines were a good-but-not-great team in the regular season. However, as the old saying goes Michigan got hot at the right time. Four straight wins at Madison Square Garden earned the Wolverines their second-straight Big Ten Tournament title. In the NCAA Tournament, Michigan got past Montana, Houston, Texas A&M, Florida State, and Loyola-Chicago to get to the NCAA Tournament Finals. In the game for the National Championship though, Villanova’s hot shooting continued leading the Wildcats to a 79-62 victory; making the B1G 0-7 since Michigan State’s title (well technically 1-6, as Maryland is now in the B1G).


Which B1G runner-up was most deserving of the National Championship?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    2002 Indiana
    (5 votes)
  • 28%
    2005 Illinois
    (84 votes)
  • 4%
    2007 Ohio State
    (13 votes)
  • 8%
    2009 Michigan State
    (24 votes)
  • 9%
    2013 Michigan
    (27 votes)
  • 32%
    2015 Wisconsin
    (95 votes)
  • 0%
    2018 Michigan
    (0 votes)
  • 14%
    pfft... Penn State won the NIT TWICE over this time period
    (43 votes)
291 votes total Vote Now