Big Ten Finally Coming Up Big-Time

Article excerpt

Please allow me to brag for a moment.

As a Big Ten alum, specifically a basketball-playing Big Ten alum, I am feeling pretty good these days about the state of Big Ten hoops.

Everyone is talking about how the Big Ten men got seven teams into the tournament and advanced two teams, Michigan State and Purdue, to the Sweet Sixteen. Well, the women have represented just as well.

Five womenAEs teams got in. And three u Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue u reached the Sweet Sixteen.

Not bad. And not a moment too soon.

The Big Ten has been everyoneAEs favorite punching bag in recent years, on both sides u men and women. And perhaps rightfully so.

The men havenAEt won a title since Michigan State in 2000.

The Big Ten women are even more removed from the mountaintop, and, worse yet, still stuck on just one championship. The Purdue women won the Big TenAEs first and only title in 1999.

Add in a surprisingly large number of embarrassing losses and early exits on both sides in recent years, and the Big Ten hasnAEt exactly been a power conference in the NCAA Tournament.

ThatAEs why itAEs so nice to finally see some meaningful results.

And I mean meaningful.

In terms of the women, itAEs not just where Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State have ended up, itAEs how they got there.

Michigan State, a ninth seed, defeated No. 1 Duke in the second round. Granted, the Spartans were playing on their home court (part of the price you pay to grow the game ... setting predetermined sites to allow for longer marketing time sometimes means higher seeds will play on a lower seedAEs floor). But a win is a win. Believe me, the Big Ten will take it. …