There has never been a Final Four comprised entirely by teams from the same conference, but this could be the year it happens.
The closest we ever came to having a conference tournament in the Final Four was 1985 when Villanova, Georgetown and St. John’s advanced from the Big East and were joined by Memphis State (now Memphis).
The Big Ten has been the strongest conference in the nation all season and four of its best teams advanced to the Sweet 16, one in each of the four regions. An All-Big Ten Final Four remains a long shot, but the conference has a great chance of winning its third national title in the past 25 years (Michigan 1989, Michigan State 2000).
When college basketball fans and followers first asked the question earlier this season about the possibility of an All-Big Ten Final Four, the possibility seemed remote at best. But after the first weekend of the tournament it’s suddenly a topic worthy of inspection. Here is a look at the four remaining teams from the Big Ten and their chances of reaching the Final Four.
Who they beat: No. 13 South Dakota State, No. 5 VCU
Odds of getting to the Final Four: 11/1
Why they can do it: The Wolverines have played well in their first two games and might have rediscovered the confidence and team work that led them to the top of the polls briefly earlier this season.
Why they can’t: They have to get by No. 1 seed Kansas just to get to the Elite Eight. Kansas has been able to win the Big 12 Conference tournament and its first two games in the NCAA tournament despite not playing its best basketball.
Who they beat: No. 14 James Madison, No. 9 Temple
Odds of getting to the Final Four: 14/1
Why they can do it: None of the four coaches has had more success in the NCAA tournament than Tom Izzo who has led the Spartans to the Final Four six times with one title. The Spartans rebound and defend as well as any team left, which will make them tough to oust.
Why they can’t: Duke, which was considered the best team in the nation for much of the regular season, and No. 1 overall seed Louisville stand in the way in this region.
Who they beat: No. 16 South Dakota State, No. 5 VCU
Odds of getting to the Final Four: 5/1
Why they can do it: The Hoosiers have too many weapons and can score at a high rate even against the best defensive teams. Player of the Year candidate Victor Oladipo finds ways to win.
Why they can’t: They lost several times late in the season when games turned ugly and physical. This isn’t a team that grinds it out well.
Who they beat: No. 15 Iona, No. 10 Iowa State
Odds of getting to the Final Four: 8/1
Why they can do it: They’re now the favorite in this region after other high seeds such as No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 3 New Mexico lost during the first weekend. Guard Aaron Craft might be the nation’s best defender.
Why they can’t: The Buckeyes are sometimes too reliant on junior forward Deshaun Thomas for scoring. If he’s not making shots, they can really struggle offensively.