From the time conference play began in 1905, the Big Ten was the Western force in collegiate basketball. Minnesota, Wisconsin and Purdue were the first powers in the league, with a combined 23 titles by 1930. Purdue was dominant in the ’30s, with seven titles under Coach Piggy Lambert, including a national title in 1935 led by player of the year John Wooden. The creation of a national tournament in 1939 showed the league’s early dominance, as a different Big Ten team went to the Final Four in each of the first three years, with two wins.
Over the next 30 years, the league produced some of the top teams in the country, led by Hall of Fame coaches like Branch McCracken, Walter Meanwell, Dutch Lonborg, Harold Olsen and Fred Taylor. Top players emerged from the conference, like Jerry Lucas, Cazzie Russell, John Havlicek, Terry Dischinger, Walt Bellamy, Johnny Green, Lou Hudson, Archie Clark and a host of others. This book provides the first-ever basketball history of the Big Ten.