Big Ten Tournament History: Past Champions, MVPs, All-Time School Records, and Assorted Notes

As you know, we get a little March Madness crazy here at MSF every year. It starts in mid-February, lasts all the way through the Final Four in April, and pretty much doesn’t stop in between.

I’ve already posted the annual March Madness 2012 schedule and ticket extravaganza, and Andy gets new posts up almost every day (like today’s Power Rankings) to keep you abreast of the latest goings on in college hoops so you’re prepared when bracket filling time rolls around.

Our next post series will be previews of the upcoming conference tournaments. I’m not personally a huge fan of them, but they’re here and never going away, so there is no use not embracing their presence and occasional excitement.

So over the next few weeks, be on the lookout for a number of posts from me outlining the history of the major (and a few mid-major) conference tournaments, as well as posts from Andy previewing this year’s conference tournaments, which always go a long way towards determining who’s in and who’s out in March, as well as seeds, whether they should or not.

This being Midwest Sports Fans, where else would I start but with the Big Ten?

2012 Big Ten Tournament

big-ten-tournament-2012-logoHere is some quick info on this year’s Big Ten Tournament:

Big Ten Tournament History

The Big Ten Tournament actually has a shorter history than many of the post-season conference tournament tournaments. It started in 1998, and if I remember correctly many of the old school coaches like Bob Knight weren’t big fans of it. But just as with college football conference championship games, conference basketball tournaments were inevitable, and so here we are.

Michigan won the first Big Ten Tournament, in 1998, but later was forced to vacate that entire season. So I guess there is no official champion for 1998? The same goes for 2002, when Ohio State won the Big Ten Tournament. They too had to vacate that season’s results.

So of the first five Big Ten Tournament champions, two had to relinquish their crowns. How’s that for an auspicious beginning!

Fortunately, the last nine champs have all been able to hold onto their crowns. Hopefully that lasts.

Also, I have to give credit to whoever designed the logo used for the Big Ten Tourney. The wheel with all the school primary and secondary colors is very cool.


For Indiana fans like me, the Big Ten Tournament holds precious few positive memories, save for Indiana’s run to the title game in 2001 where the Hoosiers ultimately lost to an Iowa team featuring IU legend Steve Alford as coach and IU transfer Luke Recker as player.

Otherwise, it’s been pretty unsuccessful, with one especially epic loss coming at the hands of Blake Hoffarber:


Here are the all-time records of each Big Ten team in the Big Ten Tournament, via the Wikipedia page for the Big Ten Tournament:

Big Ten Tournament All-Time Records By School

School All-Time Big Ten Tourney Record Winning % Big Ten Tournament Championships Big Ten Tournament 2nd Place Finishes
Ohio State 17-8 .680 3 3
Illinois 23-12 .657 2 4
Michigan State 15-12 .556 2 0
Wisconsin 14-12 .538 2 2
Iowa 13-12 .520 2 1
Minnesota 10-12 .455 0 1
Penn State 9-14 .391 0 1
Purdue 8-13 .381 1 1
Michigan 7-12 .368 0 0
Indiana 8-14 .364 0 1
Northwestern 6-14 .300 0 0
Nebraska 0-0 .000 0 0

A few quick notes:

  • The records of Michigan, Ohio State, and Minnesota all reflect the games that were vacated because of program malfeasance.
  • Indiana may have the most prolific NCAA Tournament history of any Big Ten school, but its Big Ten Tournament history sucks. The Hoosiers are just two wins away from having the worst record in Big Ten Tourney history, and only three of those appearances were Crean’s, so it hasn’t just been bad the last three years.
  • Illinois has been surprisingly good in the Big Ten Tournament. The Illini probably had the tournament’s most memorable run when they went from #11 seed all the way to the title game. The Illini also went from the #10 seed to the title game just a few years back. So maybe it’s a good thing if Illinois keeps losing this year. Might give them a better shot at the automatic bid.
  • Only three times has a team seeding lower than #2 won the Big Ten Tournament, but teams seeded 6th or lower have made the title game seven times, which is exactly half.

What does this tell us about what we should expect from this year’s Big Ten Tourney? That either Ohio State or Michigan State will likely win it, and that there is about a 50/50 chance that a middle-of-the-pack team like Purdue or Illinois or Minnesota could get hot and make a run at the title game.

Personally, I’ll be rooting for Northwestern if Indiana doesn’t make a run. The Wildcats may be slipping out of at-large NCAA Tournament consideration, but they still have a chance to get their first crack at the Big Dance with the Big Ten’s automatic bid if they can go on a run in Indianapolis.

Here is another table that breaks down the year-by-year results.

Big Ten Tournament Past Champions, MVPs, Sites

Year Big Ten Tournament Champions Big Ten Tournament Runner-Up Score Big Ten Tournament MVP Big Ten Tournament Site
1998 Michigan Purdue 76-67 Robert Traylor United Center - Chicago
1999 Michigan State Illinois 67-50 Mateen Cleaves United Center
2000 Michigan State Illinois 76-61 Morris Peterson United Center
2001 Iowa Indiana 63-61 Reggie Evans United Center
2002 Ohio State Iowa 81-64 Boban Savovich Conseco Fieldhouse
2003 Illinois Ohio State 72-59 Brian Cook United Center
2004 Wisconsin Illinois 70-53 Devin Harris Conseco Fieldhouse
2005 Illinois Wisconsin 54-43 James Augustine United Center
2006 Iowa Ohio State 67-60 Jeff Horner Conseco Fieldhouse
2007 Ohio State Wisconsin 66-49 Mike Conley United Center
2008 Wisconsin Illinois 61-48 Marcus Landry Conseco Fieldhouse
2009 Purdue Ohio State 65-61 Robbie Hummel Conseco Fieldhouse
2010 Ohio State Minnesota 90-61 Evan Turner Conseco Fieldhouse
2011 Ohio State Penn State 71-60 Jared Sullinger Conseco Fieldhouse
2012         Bankers Life Fieldhouse
2013         United Center
2014         Bankers Life Fieldhouse
2015         United Center
2016         Bankers Life Fieldhouse

As mentioned above, Andy will have a preview of this year’s Big Ten Tournament coming up soon, and we’ll have coverage of all the conference tournaments throughout the next several weeks.

The Madness is almost here. I can’t wait.

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


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