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How Long Will the Big Ten Last in the NCAA Tournament?

If you were to poll college basketball fans of the best conference in the nation, many would put the Big Ten right up near the top. The Big Ten usually puts in the most, or close to the most, tournament teams every year. This year is no different, as Big Ten basketball has seen nine teams make this year’s NCAA Tournament, with the next closest conferences only having six qualify.

Although the Big Ten is notorious for being a big part of the NCAA Tournament every year, no team from the conference has won the national championship since Michigan State in 2000. Will the Big Ten finally break their championship drought, or will they yet again fall short of the ultimate goal?

Illinois NCAA Tournament
Credit: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

How Long Will Big Ten Teams Last in the NCAA Tournament?

How Far Can Illinois Basketball Go?

Illinois has fielded some all-time great teams in the tournament. While this team may not be the best they have ever had, they are co-champions of the Big Ten regular season this year and see themselves in a tough spot in the South Region. Illinois has reliable guards in Andre Curbelo and Trent Frazier to go with their powerful first-team All-American center Kofi Cockburn. At their best, Illinois can beat the best of them although inconsistency has hurt them this season. While they did play Arizona tight at home earlier in the season, they’d likely have to beat a very good Houston team before playing Arizona in the Sweet 16. In one of the tougher regions in the bracket, Illinois will have trouble making it to the Elite Eight.

How Far Can Wisconsin Basketball Go?

The Badgers were the team that Illinois shared the regular season crown with and are led by their own first-team All-American in guard Johnny Davis. Davis has shown the ability to put the team on his back and carry them over good opponents. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, they face a good shooting Colgate team in round one and likely have to beat Auburn and Kansas to make it to the Final Four. Although they are favored to make the Sweet 16, it’s tough seeing them getting much further.

How Far Can Purdue Basketball Go?

Purdue may be the hardest Big Ten team to get a read on due to their terrible luck this season. The Boilermakers finished third in the Big Ten thanks to four of their six conference losses coming via buzzer-beaters. Purdue is led by second-team All-American Jaden Ivey and can put up points with the best of them. Unfortunately, Purdue also faces tough matchups in their bracket, as a hot Kentucky team along with UCLA and Baylor makes for a tough out. With their size and playmaking ability, the Final Four is a real possibility if their defense can hold up. Their defense is likely what will keep them from advancing past the Final Four, however.

Iowa College Basketball
Credit: Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports

How Far Can Iowa Basketball Go?

Iowa may be the hottest team in college basketball right now, as they have won four straight to win the Big Ten Tournament. For as impressive of a run as it was, they didn’t have to play two of the top three teams in the conference in Illinois and Wisconsin and still needed a lucky bank shot to send them to the championship game. Led by first-team All-American Keegan Murray, Iowa can also put up points at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, a five seed in the Midwest Region sets up a possible Sweet 16 date with one seed Kansas. For as hot as Iowa is, they likely don’t have the depth to keep up with the better teams they need to beat to get to the Elite Eight or Final Four.

How Far Can Rutgers Basketball Go?

Rutgers has to be one of the more beloved Big Ten teams thanks to their crazy hot streak that saw them play spoilers over multiple ranked teams this season. Although they did at one point beat four straight ranked opponents in four straight games, this is still the same Rutgers team that lost to DePaul, Lafayette and UMass in three consecutive contests. Outside of maybe one upset against Alabama, if they beat Notre Dame in their play-in game, they likely won’t go further with Texas Tech and their stingy defense their likely opponent in the round of 32.

How Far Can Ohio State Basketball Go?

A year removed from an embarrassing first-round exit as a two-seed, Ohio State struggled down the stretch. The Buckeyes lost four of their last five which included losses to unranked Maryland, Nebraska, Michigan and Penn State with three of those four games at home. E.J. Liddell is a heck of a forward and as good as any, unfortunately, he isn’t getting much from the supporting cast. With the Buckeyes drawing a dangerous 10 seed in Loyola Chicago and with a likely date with two seed Villanova after that, Ohio State likely won’t make it to the Sweet 16.

Michigan State College Basketball
Credit: Matthew Mitchell Photography

How Far Can Michigan State Basketball Go?

It’s been a weird down year for Tom Izzo and the Spartans as they have struggled all year to find a reliable scorer they can lean on during crunch time. The Spartans have played well as of late but were drawn into one of the toughest spots a seven seed could be in. Michigan State faces 10-seeded Davidson and their lethal shooting will pose major problems for Michigan State. If they do advance, a likely meeting with Duke in the next round will likely end their season before the Sweet 16.

How Far Can Michigan Basketball Go?

Even with all the drama surrounding Michigan after head coach Juwan Howard’s suspension for hitting a Wisconsin assistant coach following a game, Michigan was able to sputter into the NCAA Tournament. Michigan is just 17-14 and likely benefited off of name recognition to get into the dance. Although they have a decent draw for an 11-seed in the first round, they will likely see the hottest team in the country in three seeded Tennessee in the Round of 32. It would take a minor miracle for the Wolverines to even make the Sweet 16 much less the Elite Eight.

How Far Can Indiana Basketball Go?

Indiana may have finished two games below .500 in Big Ten play, but they used a nice run in the Big Ten Tournament to secure their spot in the dance. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they have to go up against a solid all-around team in Wyoming in the play-in game. Even if they win, they will have to take on a Saint Mary’s team that has beaten Gonzaga in the Round of 64. There is likely little hope for Indiana to make it to the Round of 32, let alone win their play-in game.

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