Last night I was working on my final Bracketology post for Sunday morning and predicted that the Big Ten would send six teams to the NCAA Tournament, two teams to the NIT and one team to the CBI. Well it's Sunday night and it looks like my predictions were head on, as the expected bunch (Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa) all earned NCAA bids, while the league sent a combined three teams to the NIT and CBI.
It wasn't really a surprise that Minnesota and Illinois earned NIT bids, with the only thing keeping that from being a 100% certainty was the off chance that Minnesota somehow ended up in the field of 68. That didn't happen and instead the Gophers earned a one seed in the NIT. The Gophers will host High Point in the first round and will play the winner of Saint Mary's and Utah if they advance. Minnesota's bracket also includes Southern Mississippi, Toledo, Missouri and Davidson. While the Gophers should face some competition in the NIT, they should have a pretty light schedule until the quarterfinals, where they'd likely draw Southern Mississippi or Missouri if they make it that far.
The other Big Ten team to earn a NIT bid was Illinois, earning a two seed and facing Boston University. Boston University advanced to the Patriot League championship game but were hold to a ghastly 36 points, losing by 19 to American even though they only gave up 55 points. While Illinois is a two seed they'll actually have to travel to Boston for the game. Compared to Minnesota's section of the bracket, Illinois's path to New York will be considerably more difficult as it also includes St. Johns, Clemson, Belmont, Green Bay, Robert Morris and Georgia State. If Illinois wins they will play the winner of Clemson and Georgia State.
One of the bigger "surprises" to some people was the lack of Indiana in the NIT. I predicted it would happen and it wasn't a huge surprise when I saw they were left out, most likely due to the teams poor RPI. The Hoosiers could have likely ended up in the CBI but not every team wants to pay to play in the CBI, especially with it's considerably lesser competition compared to the NIT.
The Big Ten will once again be featured in the CBI, with Penn State accepting a bid. The Nittany Lions will host Hampton in the first round. If Penn State can advance they will face the winner of Stony Brook and Siena in the quarterfinals. The CBI's bracket resets for the semifinals so any opponent past the quarterfinals won't be known for a little bit, but the field also includes Texas A&M and Oregon State out of the major conferences. The post-season appearance could be a nice send off for senior Tim Frazier, his first post-season game since 2011 when Penn State lost a heart breaker to Temple at the buzzer (and if I recall correctly, a buzzer beater that happened thanks to the refs missing a travelling call).
03/18 08:15 pm High Point @ Minnesota (ESPN3)
03/19 07:00 pm Illinois @ Boston University (ESPN2)
03/19 TBA Hampton @ Penn State (No TV info currently announced)