NCAA Tournament 2024

Northwestern, Illinois both reach NCAA men's basketball tournament


MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – MARCH 17: Terrence Shannon Jr. #0 of the Illinois Fighting Illini celebrates after the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Target Center during the Championship game of the Big Ten Tournament on March 17, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Fighting Illini defeated the Badgers 93-87. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

For the first time ever, Northwestern will be in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the second consecutive season, and they’ll be joined in the East regional by in-state rival Illinois.

Northwestern lost their Big Ten tournament opener on Friday, but they still earned a spot in the tournament without having to participate in a play-in game this week.

Their reward will be a date Friday against Florida Atlantic in Brooklyn. If they can win that game, they would be in line to take on the UConn Huskies, who earned the top seed in the tournament this season.

As for the Illini, they earned a No. 3 seed in the East region after winning the Big Ten tournament on Sunday against Wisconsin. The Illini will take on No. 14 seed Morehead State on Thursday in Omaha.

If they are able to win that game, Illinois would take on the winner of BYU and Duquesne in the second round on Saturday.

Purdue earned a No. 1 seed for the second consecutive season, and they’ll take on the winner of the Montana State vs. Grambling contest on Friday in Indianapolis. If they win, they’d take on the winner of Utah State and TCU on Sunday.

Kansas, Gonzaga, Creighton and Tennessee will also play in the Midwest region.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, two teams got into the South region, with Wisconsin earning a No. 5 seed after their runner-up finish in tournament play. They’ll face James Madison on Friday, with the Dukes having a nation-high 13 consecutive victories heading into March Madness.

Nebraska also earned its first tournament berth in 10 seasons, getting the No. 8 seed in the South. They’ve never won a tournament game, and they’ll try to reverse that trend as they play Texas A&M. A win would set them on a collision course with No. 1 seed Houston.

Michigan State also managed to make their way into the No. 9 seed in the West region. They'll take on Mississippi State on Thursday, and a win could create a matchup against No. 1 seed North Carolina on Saturday in Charlotte.

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