Big Ten: NIT and CBI AnalysisPosted by Brendan Brody on March 18th, 2014
The Big Ten ended up getting seven NCAA Tournament bids for their 12 schools once the field of 68 was announced on Sunday night. This ended up bursting the bubble for Minnesota, who was really the only team that didn’t get in that had an outside chance of doing so. They did, however, manage to receive a #1 seed in the NIT. The Gophers will host High Point on Wednesday night. Illinois received a #2 seed and will travel to Boston to take on Boston University on Wednesday night. It’s also worth noting that Indiana did not get into the field due to the fact that their RPI was not high enough. Their season is done after they declined an invitation to the CBI while Penn State will continue on in the CBI.
Here’s a little of what these teams have to look forward to as their seasons continue in the shadow of the bigger tournament:
- Minnesota: The Gophers take on High Point in their first-round game. The Panthers went 16-14 in the Big South, and they are led by 6’8″ sophomore John Brown. They do not have anyone over 6’9″, so look for the Gophers to try and pound the ball inside and get plenty of points in the paint. If they win that one, they’ll play either St. Mary’s or Utah. St. Mary’s would be interesting because former Minnesota starting guard Joe Coleman transferred there in the after Tubby Smith was fired. Utah was on the bubble for a little while and they boast wins over UCLA, Colorado, and Arizona State. They could get a match-up with Missouri in the quarterfinals if they take care of their first two opponents, which would set up a great point guard battle between Deandre Mathieu and Jordan Clarkson.
- Illinois: One thing worth noting for Illinois is that they will be unable to play any home games during the tournament due to renovations to their arena. That means that instead of hosting Boston University, they have to travel to Boston. The 24-10 Terriers were upset by American in the Patriot League finals. Maurice Watson is their leading scorer who averages 13.5 PPG, 6.9 APG, and 2.1 SPG. After that if the seeds hold up the Illini will play Clemson, who will match them with their ability to also defend really well. They could meet up with St. John’s in the quarterfinals, or a Green Bay team that has a couple of Chicago-area players that would like nothing more than to beat their home-state university.
- Penn State: The Nittany Lions get their first taste of the postseason during Coach Pat Chambers regime as they will take on Hampton on Wednesday in the CBI. With mostly mid-major teams populating the bracket, this tournament will serve two purposes: One, it will give senior Tim Frazier one final chance to win some games in a Penn State uniform. Two, it will also give a team that returns essentially everyone else of note to play in the postseason, where they can build off of the experience playing tournament basketball in March. This is the exact type of team that could use a good experience here to further its growth next season.