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2018 NIT Bubble Watch: Nebraska and Penn State Set To Find Out Their Fates

The most exciting bubble watch of the year comes on the final day of the Big Ten Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Indiana vs Rutgers Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone’s favorite time of the year is here: March. Obviously, the majority of attention is drawn to the NCAA Tournament, but as Seth Meyers said in 2011, the excitement of filling out an NIT Bracket simply cannot be explained.

So, as the Big Ten Tournament approaches, we get to take a look at which teams are on the NIT bubble. Also included as a bonus here are the teams likely heading to the NIT, which means the bubble is smaller for the other Big Ten teams. AND for a double bonus, two Big Ten teams that are on the outside looking in. You’re confused? Don’t worry.

-Probably in the NIT

-Nebraska Cornhuskers

Although they finished well in the Big Ten, losing to Michigan was not what the Cornhuskers intended to do in NYC. They’re an NCAA Tournament bubble team right now, which means depending on how the week shakes out with other bubble teams, they may be in the NIT or they may not be.

-Penn State Nittany Lions

Could go either way again with the Nittany Lions. Penn State did some work in the Big Ten Tournament, but maybe not enough. A weak non-conference strength of schedule is ultimately what could land them here. Again, they’ll learn their fate on Selection Sunday.

-Maryland Terrapins

This is where the fun starts. Based on autobids and NIT rules, if Nebraska and Penn State get in, Maryland could get bumped. The Terrapins played well enough this season to have a resume to get themselves here, and for the most part, they seem locked in. But again, with the NCAA Tournament bubble, Maryland could end up on the wrong side of the NIT bubble.

On the Bubble

-Indiana Hoosiers

Hoosiers, welcome to the NIT Bubble. A loss to Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament certainly does not help here. With all of the other factors playing in, is it possible we see 3 Big Ten Teams in the NIT? It hasn’t been ruled out yet based on how weak the Big Ten was this year. The difficulty with the NIT is, many teams will get bumped because of mid-majors and the autobid rules. So in reality, Indiana has to wait to see how many Big Ten Teams get in to the March Madness field of 68 before this gets ruled out.

Outside of the Bubble

In theory, depending on how messy this gets, there could be some below .500 teams that make it in to the NIT. Those teams are Wisconsin and Northwestern. They are off the bubble now, and it appears that both teams know their seasons are finished. However, it is very important to remember that this is March, where the unexpected becomes the ordinary. Sometimes teams that didn’t play as well as they could have and finished below .500 have the opportunity to try and end their seasons on a better note.


Ultimately, it will come down to the bubble for the NCAA Tournament that will determine how all of this shakes out. March is just beginning, and the madness is far away from ending.