By most projections - and probably reality - the B1G has firmly locked in five teams to the NCAA tournament. Those teams are Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa. Barring something catastrophic, and even then most likely, those teams will be dancing and are now more concerned about their seeding than they are if they'll punch their ticket. Normally, as a Nebraska writer, my job about now would be projecting NIT berths, but Nebraska is part of a small group in the B1G with a chance to still gain one of those beautiful spots in the Big Dance.
So, this is the place where we'll keep tabs on the resumes, talk about the absurdity of Nebrasketball vs. the good resume of Gopher Basketball, and we're throwing Indiana in the mix because they really are on the fringe of the bubble with a chance to play themselves back into the conversation. Oh, and because I feel like we need to spice things up, we'll be comparing each team to one of my favorite 2000s rap tracks because that seems so very SB Nation of me.
Minnesota: Eminem - The Real Slim Shady
If this piece starts a week ago, Goldy looks to be in the driver's seat towards the NCAA Tournament. In fact, thanks to some really savvy schedule making, their SOS numbers alone might keep them there. However, back-to-back losses to Illinois and Ohio State were not what the doctor ordered. At this point in the season, it seems like everyone is waiting to find out if the real Goldy (or tournament team or whatever) will stand up (see, I can tie in the track and make this forced comparison thing work... sorta).
Overall Record (Conference): 17-11 (6-9)
RPI : 47
vs RPI 25: 2-5
Is that a tournament team? I'd say that it probably is, but they need to get some wins soon. They are 4-8 after starting a ridiculously blazing 13-3, which is to say that they're clinging to a great non-con and that can only sustain you so long. If you were to start doing the placing of teams right now, I think the Gophers are still in, but it's becoming a much more untenable situation. My gut tells me they need 2 of 3 which means an upset of Michigan or Iowa. I'm not really convinced either is happening.
Nebraska: Raise Up - Petey Pablo
Who saw Nebraska being on this list at the beginning of the season?
Yeah, me neither. Of course, that's what makes this such a tantalizingly beautiful run. With the bludgeoning of Purdue yesterday, Nebraska has now won 8 of their last 10 making them sort of the anti-Minnesota as far as momentum goes. While a body of work is put together, it does seem like - wait for it - Nebrasketball is 'raising up'...
Look, it's Monday... on to the resume:
Overall Record (Conference): 16-10 (8-6)
vs RPI 25: 2-6
Not too shabby actually, huh? Again, it's hard to say if this is a tournament team, but in a vacuum, it's looking better and better. If this comes down to a race between Minnesota and Nebraska, right now Nebraska seems to have the inside edge. Even more importantly, Nebraska has the better schedule from a win-loss perspective. While the Huskers may not be able to increase the SOS/RPI numbers from now on out, they also finish with @Ill, IND, @NW, and WIS. Those are all winnable games, even Wisconsin due to the beauty of #PBAMagic this season. If you forced me to make a quote on what happens, I say Nebraska goes 3-1 down the stretch and will sit at 11-7 in conference but an unfortunate 19-11. To go dancing, they will need one in the B1G Tournament.
Indiana and Illinois: Clipse - When the Last Time
As in, when's the last time you saw Indiana and Illinois on the outside looking in at Minnesota and Nebraska? I'll abstain from the nitty-gritty, but each of these teams have some really glaring holes in their resumes. Specifically, both are ranging in the 80+ range, which is not so good for bracket makers. Moreover, the wins just haven't come after each had some really nice non-cons. Now, I would venture to guess that Indiana has an outside chance to play itself back into the conversation considering they have six games left - which is ridiculous - and three of those will be against ranked opponents. Same goes for Illinois, but they have only four chances. If the Hoosiers win out, they're firmly on the bubble talk. Illinois is only on here because as of right now, they look similar. Unfortunately, their chances have probably already ran out.