From The Pages: The Big Ten Tourney, Part I

With 10 years of the Big Ten tournament complete and the 11th set to begin in Indianapolis this week, BSB takes a look back through its pages to remember the Buckeyes' past showings at the event. In Part I of a two-part series, one title is won but the Buckeyes more often find themselves on the wrong end of upsets.

Ten Big Ten men's basketball tournaments have been staged so far after the conference became one of the last leagues to give in to the end-of-season event. Since the tournament's inception in 1998, Ohio State has had its share of both glorious and forgettable performances, and the Buckeyes begin their 11th try Friday. takes a look back through the pages of BSB to recap each of OSU's previous 10 performances in the conference's showcase weekend.

1998 – No. 11 seed; first-round loss to Indiana
First-year head coach Jim O'Brien was excited for the Big Ten's inaugural tournament despite Ohio State's 8-21 record overall and 1-15 Big Ten mark.

That's because O'Brien had won the Big East's conference tournament the year before while at Boston College, so he knew up close the benefits of such an experience.

"It was great for us last year," O'Brien said before turning his attention to his current league. "I've always looked to the Big Ten from afar and marveled how the teams at the bottom of the pecking order have kept going without having anything to play for.

"When you get to six or seven games left and there's no way it's going to happen for you, what's the incentive to keep playing? The tournament gives those teams a light at the end of the tunnel."

Of course, his team was one of those squads during 1998 despite the emergence of Michael Redd, the league's freshman of the year and leading scorer.

On the other side was Bob Knight, the OSU alum whose sixth-seeded Indiana Hoosiers would face the 11th-seeded Buckeyes in the United Center.

"I'm so tickled there's a Big Ten tournament, I don't know what to say," the outspoken coach said with more than a hint of sarcasm after he battled against the establishment of the event before eventually losing the fight. "I'm almost overwhelmed. I'm speechless."

However, he had nothing to complain about after twin pillars Andrae Patterson (25 points) and A.J. Guyton (23) led the Hoosiers to a 78-71 win. Redd led Ohio State with 25 points, while Ken Johnson added 15 and Neshaun Coleman 10.

"This game is so typical of how our season has gone," O'Brien said. "This was a group of kids from beginning to end that tried to do everything we asked them. It was hard, but they continued to play and did not throw in the towel."

Indiana held a 17-point second-half lead that OSU cut to 75-71. The Buckeyes led 19-18 with 5:09 left in the first half but a 12-2 run by the Hoosiers led to a 30-23 halftime head for the Crimson and Cream.

1999 – No. 2 seed; semifinal loss to Illinois
The Buckeyes were on the way to the Final Four, but Ohio State could reach only the final four of the Big Ten tournament before falling to the 11th-seeded Fighting Illini in the semifinals.

Lon Kruger's Illinois team had previously beaten No. 6 Minnesota and drilled third-seeded Indiana to get to its matchup with Ohio State. Four different Illini players, led by Cory Bradford's 17, reached double digits in points to lead Illinois to the 79-77 win against the Buckeyes in Chicago.

"In my mind, they are unquestionably the best last-place team in America," O'Brien joked at the postgame press conference.

Redd had 32 points for Ohio State and Scoonie Penn added 15 and eight assists, but it was not enough to overcome 13 from Victor Chukwudebe, 12 from Lucas Johnson and 11 from Cleotis Brown. OSU pulled even after Illinois led by 11 with less than five minutes to play, but the Buckeyes could not get over the hump and Redd missed an eight-footer that would have tied the game as time expired.

OSU opened the tournament with an 87-69 win against a Michigan team coached by Brian Ellerbe. Redd led the Buckeyes with 19 while Penn chipped in 14, Jon Sanderson 11 and Brian Brown 10. Freshman Boban Savovic added eight points off the bench after missing the final games of the Big Ten season because of a sore Achilles tendon.

"I was so hungry tonight because I hadn't played the last three or four games," Savovic said. "I've been waiting for this game tonight."

2000 – No. 1 seed; quarterfinal loss to Penn State
For the second year in a row, the Buckeyes were the victims of a major upset, this one coming at the hands of ninth-seeded Penn State in the quarterfinals in Chicago.

The Nittany Lions were paced by All-Big Ten forward Jarrett Stephens, who had 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Titus Ivory added 17 and Joe Crispin 13.

"Obviously I'm very disappointed for our team, but if we had to lose to anyone I'm glad it was to those guys," O'Brien said. "I like the kids on their team and I really like (PSU coach) Jerry Dunn a lot."

George Reese had 22 points and Redd 19, while Penn had just eight on 3-of-16 shooting, including a 2-for-14 performance from beyond the arc.

Ivory's eight-foot jumper with 1:55 left gave Penn State the lead for good at 62-61 moments after Crispin drilled a 25-footer to give the Nittany Lions a 60-59 lead.

2001 – No. 3 seed; quarterfinal loss to Iowa
OSU's losing streak in the Big Ten tournament increased to three games when the third-seeded Buckeyes were upset by the No. 6 Hawkeyes 75-66 in Chicago.

Four Buckeyes scored in the double digits, led by Brown's 18. Iowa's Dean Oliver had 16 points, six assists and three steals while Glen Worley led Steve Alford's Hawkeyes with 18 points.

It was a foul-filled affair, as Iowa made 31 of 45 free throws and Ohio State put 27 of 39 into the net.

"(I'm) disappointed with how many free throws were taken," O'Brien said. "We were in foul trouble the whole game. That's the way it goes. I don't think we were able to get into any flow at all."

Worley fouled out for Iowa, while Savovic and Tim Martin fouled out for the Scarlet and Gray and Ken Johnson was held out for much of the second half with foul trouble.

The Buckeyes led 33-22 at the half but did not actually have a field goal go through the basket in the first 15 minutes of the second, as the only made FG came on a goaltending call. In the meantime, a 24-7 Iowa run gave the Hawkeyes a 49-45 lead with 6:44 to play.

2002 – No. 2 seed; finals victory against Iowa The Buckeyes, sporting freshly shaved heads thanks to a suggestion by Ryan Heflin, bucked their recent trend in the tournament, sweeping through the tournament on the way to an 81-64 championship win against Iowa in the first-ever tournament in Indianapolis.

Before OSU's triumph, the tournament was the Luke Recker Show, as the talented senior put the Hawkeyes on his back and hit last-second shots to down Wisconsin in the quarterfinals and his former squad, Indiana, in the semifinals.

His luck ran out against OSU though, as the ninth-seeded Hawkeyes could not turn his 21 points into a victory. Savovic led all scorers with 27 while Brent Darby chipped in 14. The Buckeyes did not trail in the second half.

"It's a terrific milestone for our program and I couldn't be any prouder of the way our guys played against a very determined and very talented Iowa team," O'Brien said.

"We wanted to win it," Darby said. "That was the main thing. We came in here, we weren't about to win one game and go home."

The Buckeyes opened the tournament with their third win against rival Michigan on the season, a 75-68 triumph in the quarterfinals. Five Buckeyes hit double figures, led by 14 points from freshman Terence Dials. The Buckeyes opened up a 15-2 lead and never trailed against the 10th-seeded Wolverines.

A day later, OSU advanced to the finals with a 94-88 win against third-seeded Illinois. Darby finished with 23 points while Brown had 27 and made 12 of 13 free throws. The Fighting Illini, featuring players like Luther Head, Brian Cook, Frank Williams, Bradford and Robert Archibald, had won nine in a row coming in, prompting one commentator to say he would be "shocked" if Illinois lost again in the tournament.

"We replayed that comment for our guys a couple times earlier today," O'Brien said.

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