The Big Ten has the opportunity to maybe push their tournament bids to six teams if Minnesota can play well enough versus Ohio State today.
Illinois punched a ticket in my eyes after beating Wisconsin for the second time and nearly pulling out an epic double-overtime game against Ohio State, who are in consideration for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Buckeyes and Fighting Illini will join Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin in the tournament. Minnesota needs some work to do after being on the bubble and losing some tough Big Ten games against opponents they should have defeated. But with a win against Michigan State and the beat-down handed to Purdue, the Golden Gophers are in a good position to make the field, especially since the Big Ten is a much better league than most believe.
Regardless of how bad an opponent has played, the Big Ten has three attributes – defense, protecting the ball and teamwork. The Badgers, lacking true NBA star power, are one of the best, but all Big Ten teams play tough.
If Penn State has a game where they don’t turn the ball over, they can get a big performance by Taylor Battle and win at Ohio State. The same goes for Indiana or Northwestern or Iowa. No team should be considered an easy win or a bad loss, because they can all win a game at any time.
Therefore, Minnesota can already be in. It wouldn’t hurt to beat Ohio State, however. A win would give an automatic berth, and the talk would be on Illinois to make the Big Ten a six-bid league.