The Gophers have one way into the postseason, and it requires them to win the Big Ten Tournament. That means winning five games in five days with five scholarship players and no screw-ups. That's just not gonna happen, and it's high time we just said "good bye" to this season. But, to break up the monotony, we ought to take a stroll through the upcoming tournament and see what the situation is. Because, you know, the Gophers are technically playing in it.
Teams With Nothing to Play For
Barring a miracle run through the tournament to earn the automatic bid, the season for these teams is essentially over, no matter what happens.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Talk about an awful year. If it weren't for #DorseyGate and Joey King breaking his foot the Scarlet Knights would have ended the season winless and potentially had gone down as the worst team in the history of college basketball. Heck, they might even still be part of that discussion. Nevertheless, they head into the tournament with whatever momentum beating up the nerdy kid in class gets you these days. There's just one game left for the Knights.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
This nightmare of a season is almost over. However, having finished ahead of Rutgers they now receive a first round matchup with Illinois, who is the only other team in the BIg Ten that the Gophers are actually capable of beating with their current squad. They could sneak by Illinois, but it's just as likely that they get blown out by 30 points. It's not long for the Gophers now.
Illinois Fighting Illini
I still don't get why the Illini are so bad this year, but they need to go through Iowa, Purdue and probably Indiana to even have a shot at winning the Big Ten tournament. Not happening.
Can we please stop pretending that Nebraska basketball is some sleeping giant that is about to awaken? Stop trying to make Nebraska happen. They were good by accident for one year and now they're back to being mediocre. I'm curious to see how long it takes for these "crazy" crowds to dwindle and for Tim Miles to lose his luster.
Penn State Nittany Lions
I have nothing good or bad to say about Penn State basketball. It just is. It would be kinda fun if they beat Ohio State in the first round of the tournament to totally put the Buckeyes' postseason chances on ice.
I think my favorite piece of trivia to impress my friends who kinda-sorta follow college basketball is that Northwestern has never made the NCAA Tournament. Never ceases to amaze.
Teams With the Most to Gain
Okay, the the Wolverines are actually squarely on the bubble and could make or break their season in the BTT, which is a fun story line. A win over Northwestern and win over Indiana in the following game gives them a nice argument for getting there. Plus that opens up a matchup with either Iowa or Purdue. Michigan ain't dead yet.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Like Michigan, Ohio State is squarely on the bubble, and has the chance to play itself into the tournament through the Big Ten Tournament. If the season ended today, though, they'd be on the wrong side of the selection criteria. But guess what? An opening round win over Penn State gets them a date with Michigan State. A win there? Ohio State is back in the NCAA Tournament discussion. If anyone is desperate in the Big Ten right now, it's the Buckeyes.
Michigan State Spartans
Right now Michigan State clocks in as a #2 seed in Joe Lundardi's Bracketology, but it's not farfetched to see the Spartans securing a #1 seed. However, that requires a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament to jump the likes of Virginia or North Carolina. But isn't that what a #1 seed is supposed to do?
Teams Who Don't Really Care
The Boilermakers are a 4 seed no matter what they do in the tournament.
Hasn't this blowup been fun? Remember that one time Iowa was a #3 seed and they lost in the first round to Northwestern State?
Actually, I feel like the Terps could be on the above section about teams with the most to gain, but they've had such a bad last few weeks that there's not much they can do to really shoot up the rankings. They were a de facto #1/#2 not more than a month and a half ago, but they're off that tier.
The Hoosiers have had a great season, but their early season struggles paired with their late season success means they're penned in as a #2 or #3 seed. Not much wiggle room no matter what they do in the tournament.