The Big Ten has sized up to be the most represented conference during Selection Sunday. According to most bracketology experts, the Big Ten is looking to receive anywhere from 9-10 invitations to the big dance. For reference, the Big East set a record in 2011 when they sent 11 of their 16 teams in the conference.
What’s more impressive for the Big Ten is that all 14 teams are currently in the top 100 of Kenpom. Penn State, who came off of a championship NIT run last season, currently holds the 66th spot with just a single win in the Big Ten against Northwestern.
Locked and Loaded
For some, the eyes are already on the deep postseason. Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue have all secured numerous quality victories and established impressive resumes. All three are currently in the top 11 of the NET rankings. For these squads, the priority now shifts to building confidence to head into tournament play with serious momentum. The heavy lifting is already done. Still, the remainder of the season allows ample opportunity to improve tournament seeding and iron out any last-minute details. But with a Big Ten so tough from top to bottom, just ask Michigan State about the potential of a dramatic tune change in the middle of conference play.
- Michigan State
Comfortably in the field
Iowa, Maryland, and Wisconsin are all in the top 24 of the college basketball NET rankings. The Hawkeyes have perhaps the best resume out of these teams. So far this season, they have faced off against 7 teams that were ranked at the time of the matchup and Iowa won 4 of those games. Still, wins against #5 Michigan, #16 Ohio State, #24 Nebraska, and a then-unranked Iowa State is solid. These teams are comfortably in the field and barring any dramatic trajectory changes, they will be called on selection Sunday.
On the right side of the bubble
All of college basketball certainly knows about the Indiana story. A testament to their significant non-conference performance is that they not only are they still on the bubble after a 7-game conference losing streak, they are projected by most bracketologists to be considered in the field. Ohio State and Nebraska have similar situations where their non-conference slate has made up for struggles during Big Ten play. Of this group, Minnesota has a slightly different story as their decent Big Ten performance has made up for an arguably weaker non-conference strength of schedule.
- Ohio State
NIT is the place for me
After going to the dance for the very first time two seasons ago, Northwestern is likely going to end up missing out on the tournament for the second consecutive season and finish up around the .500 mark. Though they have given Penn State their only Big Ten win, the rest of their season has a solid mix of winnable games and opportunities for additional statement wins. Remember, this is a team that lost to a fifth ranked Michigan by just one possession.
Miracles are possible this season in the Big Ten
Strange things have happened in the conference and they will continue to happen. Given the lowest ranked team in the conference — Rutgers — is still in the top 100 of Kenpom at the time of this article publication, the opportunity is certainly available for these teams to get quality Quad I and Quad II wins that could move the needed. As it stands, they are on the outside looking in and may need to get close to running the table or somehow sneak a tournament championship.
- Penn State