Its been a couple weeks since we last looked at who in the Big Ten was potentially bound for the NCAA Tournament but now we are getting a clearer picture. While there are six teams vying for a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament, are there more than that in play for the NCAA Tournament? Let’s take a look:
Lock for the tournament:
These three teams are in the Top 10 in all of the metrics the committee will be looking at. MSU and Michigan are both ranked in the top 10, although Michigan just dropped a game to PSU, so there is no worries there. Purdue dropped a game to Maryland here after winning eight straight but they have the easiest schedule to finish the season in the conference. All three are getting Top 4/5 seeds at worst.
Should be in:
Let’s be honest, these three teams are probably “locks”. The play of these three teams over the next three weeks will make them as high as 4 seeds or as low as the 10 line. Maryland is coming off of a big win over Purdue but missed an opportunity for two marquee wins in one week with their loss to Michigan over the weekend. Iowa has two big games left with Maryland and Wisconsin and largely everything else they should win. Wisconsin? A cake walk other than Iowa. Anything more than a loss to Iowa would not be good.
Work to do:
Right now Ohio State is safely in most projections but they have five of their seven remaining against Top 25 kenpom teams. They’ll need to sweep NW and pick up two wins in those remaining five to feel safe. If they can only sweep NW and grab one or less of those five wins, then they will sit squarely on the bubble and need to make it to the quarters at a minimum, likely the semifinals, in the Big Ten Tournament to feel safe.
On the bubble:
For Minnesota, this is simple. At worst, they need to finish 2-3 with wins over rutger and NW. To get good placement the bubble they’ll need to either grab an upset win over Michigan, Purdue, or Maryland or otherwise make a run in the Big Ten Tournament.
Outside looking in:
Right now Indiana and Nebraska are bound for the NIT, at best. They could play their way onto the bubble by grabbing another four wins and making noise in the Big Ten Tournament but their absolute collapse from mid-January on has left two teams who once occupied the Top 25 grasping for life to stay in consideration for the tournament. IF they manage to make their way in, it’ll likely be in an 11/12 play in game.