Predicting how many Big Ten teams will make the NCAA Tournament

After a surprising Big Ten tournament run last year, Penn State snuck into the NCAA Tournament, but this year, the conference could have fewer teams playing in March Madness.

Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15)
Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) / Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
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On the bubble

  • Northwestern
  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  • Maryland

Right now, Joe Lunardi has six Big Ten teams in with Iowa and Maryland not mentioned in the first four out, or the next four out. However, both have a path into the tournament with the upcoming schedule. On Saturday, Maryland can make a statement against Michigan State, and Iowa can continue to rack up wins with Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, and Minnesota in its next four games. 

Northwestern is being buoyed by Boo Buie’s heroic performance in the overtime win over Purdue. Despite a 4-4 record in Quad 1 games, Northwestern is only 61st in the Net Rankings. The Wildcats are 41st in KenPom. Lunardi has the Wildcats as one of his last four byes. 

Nebraska is 1-5 on the road, but the Cornhuskers also have a win over Purdue to lean back on. The team’s next best win is over Michigan State, also at home, part of a 13-1 home record. Lunardi has Fred Hoiberg’s team as a nine seed.

Right now, I’ll agree with Lunardi that Northwestern and Nebraska will make the tournament, but I also expect Jahmir Young to lead Maryland to 20 wins and a tournament bid. The Terps host Illinois on February 17, and that could be the upset win they need to secure a spot.