The Northwestern Wildcats and Illinois Fighting Illini are both in the bottom half of the Big Ten conference standings as they hope to sneak into the 2012 NCAA Tournament. While Northwestern still has a decent chance, Illinois has essentially ensured that it won't receive a bid by losing nine of its past ten games.
At one point, Illinois was near the top of the Big Ten standings, but nine losses in ten games (including six straight at the moment) have dropped them to tenth-place in the 12-team league. The Fighting Illini now have a 5-10 record in conference after beginning the schedule with four wins in five games.
Northwestern hasn't cratered like Illinois, but the Wildcats have struggled to find consistency. The Wildcats are 7-9 against Big Ten opponents this season and 17-11 overall, but they haven't had a winning streak of more than three games since starting the season with seven straight wins.
Northwestern has especially struggled against ranked opponents, going 1-6 against them this season. The lone victory came against then-No. 7 Michigan State on Jan. 14. Getting through the Big Ten tournament could be rough, then, as the Big Ten has five ranked teams at the moment.
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