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NIT Breakdown: Three from Big Ten in projected field

Illinois, Ohio State and Indiana look like locks for NIT

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

For a second straight week it looks like the same three teams out of the Big Ten are projected to make the NIT.

Not much changed from a week ago to now when it comes to which Big Ten teams will have a shot at playing postseason ball outside of the big dance. Last week’s NIT bracketology breakdown was courteous of DRatings, and this week I’m taking a look at the other primary NIT bracketology source — NYC Buckets.

The latest projection from NYC Buckets has the same three teams from last week’s DRatings’ projections in the NIT field. Below is the list and seed for all three.

Big Ten In 2/27 NYC Buckets NIT Projections:

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

All three of these teams on this list experienced a pretty solid week. Each picked up upset wins over tournament likely-teams, adding to their already stable NIT resumes.

Indiana got a split this past week in a couple of thrilling finishes. The Hoosiers fell in overtime at Iowa during the week but rebounded on Saturday with a one-point victory over Northwestern thanks to Thomas Bryant’s three-point play in the final seconds of the game. The win snapped a 5-game losing streak and for the time being still gives IU a heart beat for the NCAA Tournament. However, at 16-13 overall and 6-10 in the Big Ten they would need to pick up two big road wins this week — at Purdue and at Ohio State — and probably make the finals of the Big Ten Tournament. Neither of those will happen so expect the Hoosiers to be playing in the NIT this year.

Ohio State and Illinois both solidified their spots in the NIT this past week as well. The Buckeyes took it to Wisconsin on Thursday night in its only game of the week. The win pushed Ohio State to 16-13 overall and 6-10 in conference play, and is probably their biggest win of the season.

The Bucks are still sitting toward the bottom of the Big Ten so a win or two could certainly help lock up a spot in the NIT. Ohio State travels to Penn State on Tuesday and wraps up the regular season at home on Saturday against Indiana. Win one of those two games and they should be a lock for the NIT.

Illinois had an equally impressive week with a pair of wins over Northwestern and Nebraska. The win over Northwestern completed the season sweep of the rival Wildcats, and put another feather in the cap of the Fighting Illini’s NIT resume. Sitting on a three-game winning streak heading into the final week, Illinois will have a chance to continue climbing the NIT seed line. The Fighting Illini hosts Michigan State on Wednesday and heads to Rutgers on Saturday. Both of those games are winnable, and if Illinois does win both then they are certainly a lock for the NIT and maybe an outside shot to get back into the NCAA Tournament conversation.

Iowa didn’t crack this week’s projection but they still have a chance to qualify for the NIT. The Hawkeyes picked up a pair of wins this past week to improve to 16-13 overall and 8-8 in the Big Ten. Iowa was listed as other teams considered and if they can pick up a few more wins then they certainly will have a chance to make the field. The Hawkeyes head to Wisconsin on Thursday and host Penn State on Sunday to cap off the regular season.

A lot could change by this time next week with conference tournaments starting this week. As I mentioned a week ago, all conference regular season champs that don’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament receive an automatic bid to the NIT. So this week we’ll start to see some of those spots taken up by some mid-majors. For Indiana, Illinois and Ohio State that shouldn’t really matter, but for Iowa this is something to keep an eye on over the next two weeks.