For the Big Ten, the season didn’t end the way it had hoped, with all of its 9 entries into the NCAA Tournament fading out before the Final Four.

But not all was lost. The league had a trilling regular-season and league tournament. Let’s hand out grades to all 14 in the Big Ten.

Michigan

Record: 23-5
Reach: NCAA Elite Eight

Despite having lost Isaiah Livers, its second-leading scorer, a versatile scorer and defender and leader, before the NCAA Tournament, East Region top-seed Michigan advanced to the Elite Eight. But the Wolverines lost to double-digit seed UCLA, denying them a trip to the Final Four. Yet it’s hard not to consider Michigan’s season a success, considering it was thought to be a transition year, with Juwan Howard filling in roster gaps with grad transfers Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown Jr. But Howard quickly integrated the newcomers, including freshman stud Hunter Dickinson, into a competitive group that won the Big Ten regular-season title.

Grade: A-

Illinois

Record: 24-7
Reach: NCAA Second Round

Stars Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn returned to Illinois, hoping to take the Fighting Illini to the Final Four and a national championship. It wasn’t an unreasonable goal. It made the result, a loss in the second round of the NCAA tourney, all the more disappointing. Illinois had a few hiccups during the season, but seemed to have straightened those out late in the year, even overcoming Dosunmu’s broken nose. Freshman Andre Curbelo developed into a star-in-making. By the end of the season, with the masked Dosunmu back in the lineup, all seemed good, with the Illini winning the Big Ten Tournament. Many thought they were the only real challenger to Gonzaga for the NCAA title, if not the outright favorites themselves. But then Illinois, the top-seed in the Midwest Region, lost to a mid-major in the second round.

Grade: B+

Iowa

Record: 22-9
Reach: NCAA Second Round

The Hawkeyes started the season like they were shot out of a cannon, with an offense that looked like it wasn’t going to be slowed by anyone. But once they got to the Big Ten, more of their weaknesses — like the inability to play any consistent defense — were exposed. Why does Iowa not play defense? It’s crazy. It so incredibly limits the Hawkeyes’ ceiling. So even with Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp, and an offense that was capable of scoring 90 points, they were far too susceptible to giving up points in bunches. It was maddening. A 3-seed, Iowa looked like it had a draw that could result in a deep NCAA Tournament run. But instead, the Hawkeyes were whipped in the second round by Oregon.

Grade: B

Purdue

Record: 18-10
Reach: NCAA First Round

Many had the Boilermakers picked in the lower half of the Big Ten, putting too much stock in the departures after the COVID-shortened past season and not enough on the newcomers. But Purdue’s rookies were outstanding, as Jaden Ivey and Mason Gillis became starters (and Brandon Newman at times too). And Ivey showed signs that he could soon be a Big Ten star. And Zach Edey, the gigantic 7-4 backup center, developing into a force by the end of the season. The Boilermakers, who finished 4th in the Big Ten, were a dark horse for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, because their youth grown up. Instead, Purdue was nuked by North Texas in the first round, a disappointing end to a promising season.

Grade: B+

Ohio State

Record: 21-10
Reach: NCAA First Round

Like many others in the Big Ten, Ohio State enjoyed a great regular-season, maybe a better one than many had anticipated, only to face a meltdown in the NCAA Tournament. Not only did No. 2 seed Ohio State lose in the first round, it was beaten by a 15-seed. But before that game vs. Oral Roberts, the Buckeyes had a team that was envied by many. Chris Holtmann’s crew had solid balance, with big man E.J. Liddell and guard Duane Washington Jr., plus perhaps the deepest roster in the Big Ten. But they peaked too soon, looking like they might be a tournament No. 1 seed before a four-game losing streak to end the regular season. Clearly, they never quite recovered.

Grade: B

Wisconsin

Record: 18-13
Reach: NCAA Second Round

The Badgers returned nearly intact from the season before when they earned a share of the Big Ten title, so expectations were high. But they never lived up to those aspirations, instead struggling to .500 in the league. Why? The offense was pedestrian, at best, with Wisconsin frequently struggling to reach the 60-point threshold. Defense can only carry a team so far when it isn’t scoring, and that was the case with the Badgers. Still, it wasn’t a complete wash. Wisconsin made the NCAA tournament, and looked better than many others in the Big Ten, smoking North Carolina before being sent home by Baylor.

Grade: C+

Rutgers

Record: 16-12
Reach: NCAA Second Round

Rutgers was a mystery all season, a veteran squad that started off so hot that many thought it could be a dark horse Big Ten title contender. But the Scarlet Knights faded in the middle of the season, unable to find the consistency to put a nice run together. One night, they’d beat Illinois in an overtime thriller, only to struggle to find any offensive flow a few days later. It was maddening. But Rutgers put together a résumé worthy of breaking its 30-year NCAA Tournament drought, then it got a victory for the first time since ’83. The Scarlet Knights could have had a second one — and heck, how the Midwest Region unfolded quite possibly could have made a Final Four run — had only they not completely collapsed in the final minutes in a second-round loss to Houston.

Grade: B-

Maryland

Record: 17-14
Reach: NCAA Second Round

With many of its stars departed from the year before, not much was expected of Maryland, especially considering the Terrapins had a void in the middle of its lineup, when other Big Ten teams had impact players at center. But Maryland managed by playing an athletic, hard-nose defense, then boosting its confidence by getting big wins on the road, like at Wisconsin and at Illinois, early in the season. Guard Eric Ayala turned into the scorer Maryland needed, averaging a team-high 15 points per game, and teamed with Aaron Wiggins to give the Terps a nice 1-2 scoring punch. Maryland smoked UConn in Game 1 of the NCAA Tournament before getting torched by Alabama in the second round. But that was probably Maryland’s ceiling, one that many didn’t think it could reach.

Grade: B-

Michigan State

Record: 15-13
Reach: NCAA First Four

Not many saw it early in the season, when the Spartans were ranked in the top 5 in the country, but this was very much a flawed Michigan State roster. MSU didn’t have a quality center, getting a few minutes per game from Marcus Bingham but then having to fill in with others who were better suited elsewhere. And point guard was a mess when Rocket Watts failed to establish himself at the position. It’s not easy to win when your team is without a quality point guard and a quality center, especially in the Big Ten. When Watts started to make an impact late in the season, the Spartans rallied enough to get in to the NCAA Tournament, but only in the First Four. And after leading UCLA by double-digits in the first half, they lost in overtime in Mackey Arena. And one of Tom Izzo’s most difficult seasons came crashing to an end.

Grade: D+

Indiana

Record: 12-15
Reach: Home

Indiana’s season ended with its coach being fired, with a donor footing the bill for a $10-million buyout for Archie Miller. So, no, it didn’t go exactly as planned, Outside of forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Hoosiers didn’t have much going for them. They lacked perimeter scorers, so finding a consistent secondary scoring option was an impossibility. Early in the season, they played hard defensively, which led to upsets over Iowa twice, but those turned into the highlights. IU’s long drought against rival Purdue continued, adding to fans’ frustration over Miller. And then by the end of the year, he had lost his team, as the Hoosiers sunk under .500 and didn’t make the NCAA Tournament in his fourth season. Not a good look.

Grade: F

Penn State

Record: 11-14
Reach: Home

Although Penn State was undersized, it played a scrappy brand of basketball under interim coach Jim Ferry, and that meant opponents had to be ready to face the Nittany Lions. And they knocked off a couple of the upper-tier Big Ten teams, with wins over Rutgers, Wisconsin and Maryland (x2). And they had a handful of single-digit loses, showing how they could push teams, but couldn’t always get over the top. PSU exceeded expectations, which were understandably low, considering the roster turnover from 2020 and the timing of Pat Chambers’ dismissal.

Grade: C

Northwestern

Record: 9-15
Reach: Home

Northwestern shocked everyone by winning its first 3 games, including what appeared at the time to be a huge win over then No. 4 Michigan State, but then faded just as quickly. The Wildcats, who had jumped into the Top 25 during the winning streak, lost 13 straight games. It recovered to win its final 3 of the regular season, making for a bizarre Big Ten slate in which it had three streaks: 3-games winning, 13-games losing and then 3 Ws again. But shouldn’t NU have been better? Sure, it was young, but players like Boo Buie, Chase Audige and Miller Kopp had enough experience. Yet they were woefully inconsistent.

Grade: D+

Minnesota

Record: 14-15
Reach: Home

Minnesota spent much of the year ranked, with its eyes on the NCAA Tournament. Then, in a blink, the whole season fell apart. Injuries mounted and after beating Purdue in mid-February, the Golden Gophers lost their last 7 regular-season games. By then, coach Richard Pitino’s fate was all but announced. And after the Big Ten Tournament, when they finally broke the losing streak, but lost in their second game, the Gophers saw Pitino be shown the door. It was just a sad ending to what had been a promising season.

Grade: F

Nebraska

Record: 7-20
Reach: Home

Nebraska had the most bizarre season in the history of the Big Ten, with a long COVID pause followed by a streak in which it played nearly every other day to try to make up for the missed game. Needless to say, it didn’t go well, especially as Fred Hoiberg continues to rebuild the program. They won 3 games in the Big Ten, the highlight being a thrashing of Rutgers on March 1. But otherwise, the season was what it was expected to be (aside from the COVID issues).

Grade: D-