Welcome to March, where the bubble watch rages on for multiple Big Ten teams hoping to make the NCAA Tournament field of 68.
As it currently stands, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, Purdue, Northwestern and Wisconsin are expected to be locked into at-large bids for the Big Dance. However, Iowa and Michigan State are two teams that have yet to solidify their cases for bids.
Sports Illustrated’s Michael Beller explained the cases for both Iowa and Michigan State, gauging their NCAA Tournament chances.
According to Beller, Iowa is one of the last Big Ten teams searching for a way into the tourney, even with the Hawkeyes’ four-game winning streak to end the regular season. It’s noted that Iowa has five wins over teams with an RPI of 50 or lower; however, the speculation is that the Hawkeyes may need multiple statement wins in the Big Ten Tournament to solidify a spot in the field of 68.
Although Iowa has no margin for error, SI suggests Michigan State has nothing to worry about when it comes to securing an at-large bid. Even with two losses to end the regular season, Beller writes that the Spartans have six wins over teams with an RPI of 50 or better, which keeps Michigan State ahead of other bubble teams.
Slow start to the season aside, the Spartans are in prime position to add to their 19-year NCAA Tournament streak. On the other hand, Iowa still needs to convince the right people, as ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projects the Hawkeyes as one of his first four teams out.