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 tantamount, and that resulted in unsightly games with winning teams scoring between 50–65 points per game to determine conference supremacy. Contenders such as Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue and (to a smaller extent) Michigan State tried clutching, grabbing and clanking their way to victory.