Big Ten Basketball Goes On the Offensive

AP Photo

During the 2000 Final Four, any potential appeal — present or otherwise — that Big Ten basketball could have held for me nearly died.

Befitting the fact that it was played on April Fool’s Day, the game between Michigan State and Wisconsin was a complete joke. A combination of smothering defense and inept offense resulted in a 19–17 halftime score. Anyone watching that game will never forget it, although they probably wish they could. I know I do.

“We’re trying to make it a game of basketball skills, not a weight-room contest,” then-Kansas coach Roy Williams later said in criticizing the brand of basketball on display that night.

Any for many years thereafter, that “weight-room” reputation of Big Ten basketball continued unabated. Defense was...

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