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Jeff Eisenberg

Bubble Breakdown: Big Ten unlikely to get a sixth bid

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Selection Sunday is less than three weeks away, so we're taking a conference-by-conference look at the bubble picture this week. Up next is the Big Ten, which almost certainly will get at least four teams into the field but looks unlikely to get more than five.

Tourney-bound: Purdue (23-3), Michigan State (21-7), Ohio State (21-7), Wisconsin (20-7)

They've got work to do: Illinois, Minnesota

Illinois (17-10, 9-5, RPI: 71)

• Marquee wins: at Clemson, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, at Wisconsin

• Bad losses: Utah, Bradley, Georgia

• Remaining schedule: at Michigan, Minnesota, at Ohio State, Wisconsin

• Outlook: Halfway through what may be the toughest eight-game season-concluding stretch of any team in the nation, Illinois remains in solid position despite an RPI that has hovered in the low 70s for weeks. The Illini probably need to go at least 2-2 down the stretch to feel comfortable heading into the Big Ten tournament, which means they need to beat Michigan and Minnesota to avoid a must-win situation against a team ahead of them in the standings.

Minnesota (16-10, 7-7, RPI: 76)

• Marquee wins: Butler, Ohio State, Wisconsin

• Bad losses: Portland, Miami, at Indiana, Michigan

• Remaining schedule: Purdue, at Illinois, at Michigan, Iowa

• Outlook: An upset of Wisconsin last week thrust Minnesota to the fringes of the bubble picture, though the situation still looks pretty bleak for the Gophers. Victories over Ohio State and Butler earlier this season would at least get Minnesota into the at-large conversation entering the Big Ten tournament if the Gophers can win three out of four to close the regular season.

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