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3/8 Big Ten NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch

Where is the conference looking in its NCAA Tournament projections?

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The tight regular season race in the Big Ten has finally concluded. It’s almost a guarantee, regardless of what happens in the Big Ten Tournament, that at least seven teams in the conference will be competing in March Madness.

However, there are a few teams that may end up needing to a win or two in the BTT to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

There are also a few Big Ten teams that have recently entered the bubble conversation and may end up having a shot at an at-large bid.

Let’s take a look at the pre-BTT bubble watch.

Ticket Punched

-Purdue Boilermakers

  • Projected Seed: 4
  • RPI: 17
  • Top Three Wins: Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Northwestern (Twice)

-Maryland Terrapins

  • Projected Seed: 7
  • RPI: 25
  • Top Three Wins: Kansas State, Minnesota, Northwestern

-Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Projected Seed: 5
  • RPI: 19
  • Top Three Wins: Purdue, Maryland, Northwestern

-Wisconsin Badgers

  • Projected Seed: 7
  • RPI: 37
  • Top Three Wins: Minnesota, Maryland, Syracuse

Should Be In

-Northwestern Wildcats

  • Projected Seed: 8
  • RPI: 51
  • Top Three Wins: Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Michigan

The Wildcats are as close to a lock in the tournament as it gets. Despite a four point loss to Purdue to end the regular season, Northwestern’s victory over Michigan last week all but officially sent them dancing.

Even if the Wildcats fail to win a game in the Big Ten Tournament, it’s hard to believe that the NCAA Tournament Committee wouldn’t do them the favor of sending them to March Madness for the first time ever.

Northwestern is the sixth seed in the Big Ten Tournament and has a bye to the second round. The Wildcats will square up with the winner of Rutgers vs Ohio State.

Even though it would take one of the biggest snubs in history for Northwestern to miss the field of 68, it will need Scottie Lindsey to regain his touch if it wants to last more than a day in March Madness.

Lindsey has shot under 30 percent since returning the Cats lineup five games ago. The junior guard has failed to score in double figures in in four of five games since recovering from an illness.

-Michigan State Spartans

  • Projected Seed: 12
  • RPI: 47
  • Top Three Wins: Minnesota (twice), Wisconsin, Wichita State

The Spartans enter the Big Ten Tournament on a two-game losing streak, a streak that essentially destroyed any chance of Tom Izzo’s squad earning a single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan State has been streaky all season, and unless they win the Big Ten Tournament, they will be a 14-loss team.

Before the Spartans lost to Illinois 73-70 and Maryland 63-60 this week, I was pretty confident in them earning an at-large bid. Now, not so much. However, assuming the selection committee favors Power Five schools, MSU will sneak in as a 12 seed.

This is the case, if Michigan State is able to at least win in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament against Penn State or Nebraska.

If the Spartans get bounced by either the Cornhuskers or Nittany Lions, they honestly might be staring at only an NIT bid. My guess is that Miles Bridges leads Michigan State to at least one BTT win and an NCAA Tournament bid.

-Michigan Wolverines

  • Projected Seed: 10
  • RPI: 46
  • Top Three Wins: Purdue, Wisconsin, Marquette

The Wolverines 82-70 win over Purdue solidified their tournament resume.

If Michigan beats a hot Illinois team in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament, and then is able to upset Purdue again, it could possibly sneak into the NCAA tournament with as high as a seven seed.

Michigan is a 20-win team and a double-digit win team in Big Ten play. There is no way they don’t get an at-large bid, even if they lose to Illinois.


-Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Projected Seed if They get in: 13
  • RPI: 57
  • Top Three Wins: Northwestern (twice), Michigan, Michigan State

Illinois is a 13-loss team with an under .500 record in conference play of 8-10.

The Illini weren’t even in the bubble discussion until about a week ago. However, Illinois closed out its regular season by winning five of seven games.

While the Illini are clearly one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten right now, a 62-59 loss to Rutgers on Saturday damaged their at-large hopes.

By no means is Illinois a team to look passed in the Big Ten Tournament, but it is most likely going to have to at least make it to the finals in the Big Ten Tournament to earn an at-large bid to March Madness.

U of I has an eight seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play Michigan on Thursday, another team that is hungry to bulk up its resume.

-Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Projected Seed if They get in: 13
  • RPI: 69
  • Top Three Wins: Iowa State, Maryland, Wisconsin

Similar to Illinois, the Hawkeyes were far from being involved in any bubble discussions until recently.

The Hawkeyes closed out the regular season on a four-game win streak. The streak included two extremely impressive road wins over Maryland and Wisconsin.

Iowa plays Indiana in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament and also needs to make it to the finals to have a shot at an at-large bid.