How Many Teams Are in the Big Ten? (List Included)


A kickoff on Indiana's football field.

College football is one of the most popular sports in the United States, with hundreds of teams playing each and every week. These teams are sorted into one of many conferences, with the Big Ten being one the best and most well-known. 

So, how many teams are in the Big Ten?

There are 14 teams in the Big Ten Conference. These teams include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, and Wisconsin. Despite the addition of teams over time, the name of the conference has stuck.

While there are 14 teams currently in the Big Ten, that isn’t always going to be the case. To learn more about what teams will join the conference, the history of the conference, and much more – keep reading!

How Many Teams Are in the Big Ten?

The Big Ten Conference is an esteemed collegiate athletic conference comprising universities primarily from the Midwestern United States. Established in 1896, the Big Ten has a rich history as a prestigious academic and athletic conference in the NCAA Division I.

Originally, the Big Ten consisted of seven schools; however, expansion over the years led to an increase in membership. As of 2023, there are currently 14 teams in the conference, with two additional institutions scheduled to join in 2024. 

These teams come together to participate in various sports, including basketball and football, and compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics.

The 14 teams included within the Big Ten are:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Michigan State
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Northwestern
  • Ohio State
  • Penn State
  • Purdue
  • Rutgers
  • Wisconsin

Some of these schools boast highly successful programs. For example, Michigan State has been a formidable force in men’s basketball, while Ohio State is well-known for its dominant football program.

Why Is it Called the Big Ten?

The Big Ten, also known as the Big Ten Conference, has a rich history that dates back to its formation in 1896. 

It is the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States, originally comprising seven universities located in the Midwest: Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Northwestern.

The name “Big Ten” has stuck around even though the conference’s membership has grown over the years. 

While the name might have been derived from the original ten institutions that formed the conference (with the addition of Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio State), the term “Big” conveys the historical significance and prominent standing of the universities within the conference.

Throughout its long history, the Big Ten has undergone multiple expansions, leading to an increase in the number of participating schools. Currently, the conference is comprised of 14 members. 

However, despite this increase, the name “Big Ten” remains in use, reflecting the continuity of the conference and its long-standing traditions.

Is the Big Ten a Good Conference?

Zoomed in photo of a football.

The Big Ten is one of the most reputable and renowned collegiate conferences in the United States. Comprising 14 top-notch universities in the American Midwest and Northeast regions, the Big Ten boasts a long-standing tradition of academic and athletic excellence that spans over a century.

The quality of the teams competing in the Big Ten is evident across multiple sports, such as basketball, football, and wrestling, among others. 

Known for its fierce rivalries and intense competition, the conference showcases some of the nation’s finest athletes and coaches. Winning a Big Ten title is a significant accomplishment, as it attests to the skill, talent, and dedication of the respective team and coaching staff.

Many Big Ten teams have gone on to enjoy success at the national level, especially in the NCAA basketball and football tournaments, earning the conference its stellar reputation.

Additionally, numerous alumni from Big Ten schools have achieved professional success, both in the world of sports and otherwise, further underlining the conference’s commitment to excellence.

In terms of quality, the Big Ten consistently ranks among the top conferences, not only regarding performance on the playing field but also in terms of academics and university prestige.

With its institutions consistently performing well in national rankings, the Big Ten fosters a strong culture of scholarship complementing its impressive sports achievements.

Will the Big Ten Have 16 Teams?

The Big Ten Conference, which currently consists of 14 teams, is no stranger to expansion and change. With the recent addition of USC and UCLA to the conference membership beginning in 2024, the Big Ten will have a total of 16 teams. 

This expansion aligns with the ongoing trend of reshaping the landscape of college football conferences.

The NCAA Division I Council has implemented a recent rule change that allows the Big Ten to bypass the obligation of maintaining divisions when organizing a conference championship. This flexibility provides the conference with ample opportunities to further expand in the future.

There are ongoing discussions and analyses regarding the choice of teams to be included in the Big Ten in case of further expansion. These options range from expanding to a 16-team conference to even considering an ambitious 24-team conference. 

The final decision will largely depend on the preferences of existing members and strategies that can benefit all the stakeholders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Did Chicago Leave the Big Ten?

The University of Chicago decided to leave the Big Ten Conference in 1946. This decision was primarily based on the university’s shift of focus towards academics and research, rather than athletics.

Why Did Michigan Leave the Big Ten?

In 1907, the University of Michigan temporarily left the Big Ten (then known as the Western Conference) due to disagreements over eligibility and recruitment rules. Michigan felt that the conference’s rules were too strict and hindered them from remaining competitive in athletics. 

The university preferred a more lenient approach that would allow them to recruit top athletes and maintain a strong sports program. However, they rejoined the conference in 1917 after the implementation of a set of rules that aligned with their objectives. 

Since then, Michigan has been a longstanding member of the Big Ten Conference, contributing significantly to its athletic success and prestige.

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Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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