Dienhart: Big Ten watches and waits for next national title

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Dienhart: Big Ten watches and waits for next national title

The Big Ten watches and waits for its next basketball national championship.

The league has come close to winning it all since Michigan State did it in 2000 in the now-demolished RCA Dome in Indianapolis vs. Billy Donovan and Florida; in fact, it’s played in six title games since (Indiana, 2002), (Illinois, 2005), (Ohio State, 2007), (Michigan State, 2009), (Michigan, 2013) & (Wisconsin, 2015). But on each occasion, the Big Ten team came up short.

Since MSU’s Tom Izzo won his only national title in 2000, Duke and UConn have won three apiece, Florida and North Carolina have both won two, and Maryland (pre-Big Ten) Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse and Villanova have all won one.

There could be myriad reasons as to why the Big Ten’s title drought is now in its 17th season. But a major one has been a lack of elite, top-end talent. One way to judge the talent in a conference: How many NBA lottery picks has it produced?

Since Michigan State cut down the nets in Indianapolis, schools like Kansas, Duke, UConn and North Carolina have dominated the NBA lottery. Kansas and Kentucky lead the nation with 13 lottery selections over the last 17 drafts. Duke has had 12; UConn and North Carolina 10. Want more? Arizona has had 8; Florida 6; UCLA 5.

In that same span, the Big Ten has had 20 NBA lottery picks. Indiana has had five; Ohio State has had four; Michigan has had three; Michigan State, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin have had two.

So, Kansas and Kentucky have combined for 26 lottery picks in the last 17 years compared to the Big Ten’s 20. Talent doesn’t guarantee success. But, it sure does help a program win at a very high level.

Here is a look at Big Ten players selected in the NBA lottery the past 17 years:

2016: No. 14 Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
2015: No. 2 D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State; No. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
2014: No. 8 Nik Stauskas, Michigan; No. 9 Noah Vonleh, Indiana
2013: No. 2 Victor Oladipo, Indiana; No. 4 Cody Zeller, Indiana; No. 9 Trey Burke, Michigan
2012: No. 11 Meyers Leonard, Illinois
2011: none
2010: No. 2 Evan Turner, Ohio State
2009: none
2008: No. 7 Eric Gordon, Indiana
2007: No. 1 Greg Oden, Ohio State; No. 4 Mike Conley, Ohio State
2006: none
2005: No. 3 Deron Williams, Illinois
2004: No. 5 Devin Harris, Wisconsin; No. 14 Kris Humphries, Minnesota
2003: none
2002: No. 11 Jared Jeffries, Indiana
2001: No. 5 Jason Richardson, Michigan State
2000: No. 8 Jamal Crawford, Michigan; No. 9 Joel Przybilla, Minnesota

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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