Sizing up the Big Ten and the Sweet 16

The Big Ten has been regarded by many this season as the best conference in college basketball.

Six Big Ten teams (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State) were ranked in the AP top 10 at one point this season. Entering the NCAA tournament, five were ranked in the AP top 20.

The conference entered the NCAA tournament with big expectations and, so far, has lived up to them. Big Ten teams are a combined 10-3 through the round of 32, and tied a Big Ten record by putting four teams in the Sweet 16. In fact, it’s the second consecutive season the Big Ten has four of the Sweet 16 teams -- and each is in a different region, so it's possible we could see an all-Big Ten Final Four.

However, the Big Ten hasn’t won a national championship since Michigan State in 2000. When comparing the Big Ten to the other Power 6 conferences in the tournament, it measures favorably in some categories but falls short in others -- most notably national titles won.

Since the start of the 2000-01 season, the Big Ten has sent 72 teams to the NCAA tournament. Only the Big East has sent more (92). And 40 percent of Big Ten teams (29 of 72) have reached the Sweet 16. That’s the highest percentage among the Power 6 conferences.

However, making the Sweet 16 hasn't equaled long-term success. The Big Ten ranks last since 2001 among the Power 6 in percent (16.9) of Elite Eight teams. (The Big Ten does, however, have the second-highest percentage of Final Four teams, trailing only the ACC.)

Since 2001, the Big Ten has had four teams play for a national title (2002 Indiana, 2005 Illinois, 2007 Ohio State, 2009 Michigan State), but each lost. The ACC, Big East and SEC each have had multiple teams win a national title from 2001-12. In fact, three of the five titles won by ACC schools came with beating a Big Ten team in the national championship game.