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Breakdown: Big Ten’s NIT Hopes

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Indiana, Illinois and Ohio State are all found in DRatings.com’s latest NITology

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With all but two of the Big Ten’s 14 teams above .500 there will be plenty of postseason basketball in the league this year. Six or seven teams will qualify for the NCAA Tournament, so that means there’s a good chance a handful of teams will also qualify for the NIT.

And that’s the case in DRatings’ most recent NIT Bracketology.

DRatings has three teams from the Big Ten in the NIT in its updated NITology post. The Big Ten ranges from a three seed to a five seed. Below is the list of all the Big Ten teams that are currently projected to make the NIT.

Big Ten In 2/19 DRating NIT Projections:

  • #3 - Indiana
  • #4 - Illinois
  • #5 - Ohio State

Indiana (15-12, 5-9) is the only team on this list that still has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, but the loss to Minnesota on Wednesday really hurts their odds. The Hoosiers would probably need to win out to get themselves back into NCAA Tournament consideration, and with how things have been going for them lately that is very unlikely. So a trip to the NIT seems like the realistic landing spot for Indiana.

Illinois (15-12, 5-9) and Ohio State (15-13, 5-10) both find themselves near the bottom of the Big Ten, but appear in good position to make the NIT. Illinois helped its case this past week with a big win over the Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Saturday. Illinois will have a chance to improve its resume even more in these next two weeks with four winnable games — vs. Northwestern, at Nebraska, vs. Michigan State and at Rutgers.

On the flip side, the Buckeyes had a rough week dropping games at Michigan State on Tuesday and vs. Nebraska on Saturday. Ohio State will look to snap a three-game losing streak on Thursday vs. Wisconsin. In order to safely continue its season, Ohio State will need to pick up at least a few more wins between its final three regular season games and the Big Ten Tournament.

While only three Big Ten teams are currently projected in DRatings’ NITology, there are still certainly a few others that could crack the field. Iowa (14-13, 6-8), Penn State (14-13, 6-8) and Nebraska (12-14, 6-8) all failed to crack the most recent NITology, but will still have a chance to play their way into the field. However, it will take a strong finish by each of those teams for that to happen.

There is also a chance to see a few NCAA bubble teams drop down into the NIT field. Minnesota (20-7, 8-6) appears to be safely in the big dance after beating Michigan (17-10, 7-7) on Sunday night, but the Wolverines and rival Michigan State (16-11, 8-6) aren’t locked into the NCAA field by any means. Both are still projected by most to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but if either struggle down the stretch, then they could easily fall into NIT consideration.

It should also be noted that any regular season conference champion that fails to qualify for the NCAA Tournament — i.e. a mid major that doesn’t win its conference tourney — receives an automatic bid into the NIT. So any team projected on the seven or eight line could easily be bounced from the field by some upsets in the conference tournaments.

The final two weeks of the regular season and Big Ten Tournament will play a huge role in how many teams are selected, but expect at least three or four Big Ten squads to be competing in this year’s NIT.