The Big Ten is sending just four teams to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. It’s the lowest number of big dance bids the conference has had since 2008 when the league had three less members.
Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State are the only Big Ten teams which heard their names called Sunday evening. Penn State and Nebraska were on the bubble following the conference tournament last week, but they both were seen as long shots for NCAA Tournament berths by the time Selection Sunday came around.
How did the Big Ten end up with just four teams?
The Big Ten had its most top-heavy season ever in 2017-18. The conference’s top three teams in the regular season – Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue — combined to go 46-8. Michigan and Nebraska both went 13-5, but no other team finished above .500 in Big Ten play. And while Michigan had plenty of signature wins and a conference tournament title, the Huskers failed to beat any of the Big Ten’s top three teams.
What kept Penn State and Nebraska out?
As mentioned above, Nebraska lacked signature wins. Penn State’s best wins all came against one opponent (the Nittany Lions beat Ohio State three times), and team had four losses to teams with RPIs north of 100. The bubble also got better by the time the bracket was set. Teams like Alabama and Syracuse did enough in their conference tournaments, and teams like Davidson and San Diego State stole bids in non-Power 5 leagues.
What happened to some Big Ten teams with lofty preseason expectations?
If you would have looked at this bracket in November, Minnesota and Northwestern would be the two most surprising omissions from the Big Ten. The Gophers, who dealt with injuries and the expulsion of Reggie Lynch, imploded this season and finished just 4-14 in conference play. Chris Collins’ Wildcats also took a step back after reaching their first NCAA Tournament in program history last season. Northwestern had just 14 wins this season.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, struggled after losing a highly successful group of seniors. The Badgers went 15-18 and are not in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1997-98 season.
Big Ten NCAA Tournament bids by season
- 2018 – 4
- 2017 – 7
- 2016 – 7
- 2015 – 7
- 2014 – 6
- 2013 – 7
- 2012 – 6
- 2011 – 7
- 2010 – 5
- 2009 – 7
- 2008 – 4