Illinois Fighting Illini – #5 seed – 19-2, 9-9
NCAA chances: 75%
Likely NCAA seed 8/9
What is there to play for – I think the Fighting Illini are safe, but I thought that last year too. They could be a very dangerous 8/9 seed if they play to their potential. If they want to remove all doubt they’ll beat Michigan. Wins over North Carolina and Wisconsin are solid, while Michigan State is also a top 50 win. I think they cancel out the bad loss at Indiana and awful loss to Illinois-Chicago. Illinois is probably playing for a seed unless they look really bad in a loss to Michigan. This team is a threat to win the tournament, but I don’t know if they can beat Ohio State in a semi-final matchup.
Northwestern Wildcats – #8 seed – 17-12, 7-11
NCAA chances: 1% (only if they win the auto-bid)
Likely NCAA seed: none
What is there to play for – Well, the Wildcats get a rematch of their last game, when they beat Minnesota by 11. They would then face Ohio State, whom they battled closely but lost to in the final seconds. Northwestern is just 5-13 all-time in this event, and one of those wins was over Indiana last year. They have never made it past a Friday of the tournament, either. If they were to shock OSU, an easier game against Michigan or Illinois could put them into the final and give them a small chance at an at large bid. I just don’t see it happening though. Likely they can win one game and that would be it.