The Big Ten is as deep in 2012 as it has been in years, and the conference figures to be one of the big winners come Selection Sunday. But just how much room in the 2012 NCAA Tournament field is there for Big Ten teams? In his most recent edition of Bracketology, SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean puts the number at eight, with the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Wolverines leading the way.
Those two teams both clock in as No. 2 seeds, which means for the time being that the Big Ten may be shut out of the top line. Following that, Dobbertean projects the Big Ten to score three teams as No. 4 seeds: the Michigan Wolverines, Wisconsin Badgers and Indiana Hoosiers. Next, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish come in as a No. 7 seed, effectively naming them the Big Ten's fifth strongest team.
From there, it begins to be about the teams that are just hanging on by a thread. The Illinois Fighting Illini, who have lost six of their last seven games, are tabbed as a No. 10 seed, though they are certainly trending downward. The Big Ten's final two teams— the Purdue Boilermakers and Minnesota Golden Gophers come in as No. 12 seeds— which is usually the absolute final line for major conference teams.
The Northwestern Wildcats, who fell to Purdue this past weekend, are named by Dobbertean as one of the last four teams left out, though they have enough big games left on their schedule to change that.
For more on Illinois basketball, visit SB Nation's Illinois blog Hail To The Orange. For more on Northwestern basketball, visit SB Nation's Northwestern blog Sippin On Purple. For more news and notes around the country, visit SB Nation's men's basketball news hub.