We’re a week and a day away from the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, which will undoubtedly have the attention of every Big Ten team with even an outside shot at getting into the dance.
As the season enters its final stretch, teams will be fighting for a shot at the title. But, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, Illinois and Iowa will not be among the field of 68.
A @ESPNLunardi bubble update:
LAST 4 IN: Vandy, XU, Wake, USC
FIRST 4 OUT: URI, K-St, Illinois, Iowa
NEXT 4 OUT: GT, Houston, Cal, Clemson
— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 4, 2017
Lunardi has seven Big Ten teams — Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue, Maryland, Wisconsin and Minnesota — making the NCAA Tournament. A few teams, such as Northwestern, Wisconsin and Purdue, have seemingly done enough in the regular season to warrant at-large bids.
Iowa, which has quietly won three straight games, including wins over No. 24 Maryland and No. 22 Wisconsin, is making a pretty decent case for an at-large bid. The Hawkeyes also have wins over Iowa State and Purdue, which are among the best in the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively.
Illinois, on the other hand, may have had its NCAA Tournament hopes busted with a 62-59 loss to Rutgers on Saturday. The Illini had won four straight, including wins over Northwestern and Michigan State, but the loss to the last-place Scarlet Knights may have ended any shot Illinois had at an at-large bid.
However, it should be noted the Big Ten Tournament will be played next week, and the winner will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. With a strong conference tournament showing, Iowa could rocket in the tourney. Illinois might need to win the tournament in order to go dancing.