Minnesota layed a major egg by losing to Penn State last night. Their NIT hopes aren't completely dead, but now on major life support. They will need at least one victory in the Big 10 tournament in order to secure a spot. They may need a second tournament win, depending on how many other regular season champs fail to win their own tournaments.
The loss dropped Minnesota to the #11 seed, which may actually be a blessing in disguise based on the way the Big 10 tournament bracked lined up. As the #10 seed, Minnesota would have had to face #7 Indiana followed by #2 Maryland, both of which the Gophers failed to put up much of a fight against during the regular season. Instead, as the #11 they get to start against #14 Rutgers, who they beat during the regular season. If they win that game, they'll face #6 Ohio State, who needed Overtime to beat the Gophers back on January 6th. The Buckeyes have had a rough patch lately, losing 3 of their last 6, including an absolute drubbing from the top-seeded Badgers. Finally, if they manage to get past those two games, they'd face #3 Michigan State, who they just beat in East Lansing two weeks earlier. It's still a quite daunting path to the semis, but I'd rather have to play three games against beatable teams than two against opponents we've already lost miserably to.
1's: Illinois, Ole Miss, Connecticut, UCLA
2's: Richmond, Alabama, BYU, Miami (FL)
3's: Pittsburgh, Stanford, Saint Mary's College, Rhode Island
4's: Seton Hall, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kansas State
5's: Florida, Michigan, Memphis, Minnesota, Clemson
6's: Clemson, Murray State, George Washington, Central Michigan
7's: Valparaiso, Louisiana Tech, High Point, Albany
8's: Georgia Southern, Bucknell, Sacramento State, Charleston Southern
FFO: Massachusetts, UTEP, Wyoming, Arizona State
NFO: UNLV, Vanderbilt, Sam Houston State, Illinois State