A year ago, the Big Ten sent 9 teams to the NCAA Tournament, tying a league record that it had set the previous season.

But as Selection Sunday quickly approaches — it’s only 46 days away — the B1G is angling toward not only beating its own record, but perhaps tying the NCAA record and maybe even beating it. As of Tuesday, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had 11 teams from the Big Ten qualifying for the Big Dance, although several had tournament résumés that put them squarely on the bubble.

Lunardi had 5 league teams as double-digit seeds: Wisconsin (10), Maryland (11), Ohio State (11), Northwestern (11) and Penn State (12). The Wildcats were 1 of Lunardi’s Last 4 In, while Penn State was the Last Team In, a spot even more precarious now considering the Nittany Lions lost by 20 at Rutgers on Tuesday night.

Michigan could still play its way off the bubble. The Wolverines are only 11-8 overall but are 5-3 in the Big Ten with a net ranking of 77. Michigan is 0-6 against Quad 1 opponents but is 4-1 against Quad 2, and it’ll have more chances to pad its résumé, including Thursday night when No. 1 Purdue comes to Ann Arbor.

If Michigan gets in (along with bubble teams like Ohio State, Northwestern and Penn State), then the Big Ten would get a record 12 teams in the tourney — poor Nebraska and Minnesota, the 2 that would be left on the outside — beating the NCAA record of 11 teams set by the Big East in 2011.

Six Big Ten teams seem more comfortable in the tournament, at least if it started right now. Purdue is the No. 1 overall seed, per Lunardi, while Rutgers and Indiana are 5 seeds, Michigan State and Illinois are 7 seeds, and Iowa is an 8.

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Of course, the conference is seeking tournament success as well. The Big Ten has sent 9 teams to the Dance in back-to-back seasons but none advanced to the Final 4. And last season, the league became the 1st ever to have 9 teams without a single 1 making the Elite 8. Purdue and Michigan made it to the 2nd weekend but lost in the Sweet 16.

If Lunardi’s seedings are to be believed — and many of the other bracket experts feel the same way — then the Boilermakers would be the only ones from the Big Ten anticipated to make it past the 2nd round, let alone to the 2nd or 3rd weekends.

Thompson back for surging Hoosiers

Race Thompson anticipates he’ll be gradually able to put in more minutes, as he builds his way back into Indiana’s rotation following a knee injury 3 weeks ago.

The senior forward played 4 minutes against Michigan State on Sunday — and had 3 fouls — getting his 1st action since tweaking the knee against Iowa on Jan. 5. He thought then that his career might be over but credits the Iowa and Indiana training staffs for attending to him quickly, and the IU trainers for assisting in a quick rehabilitation.

“Coming back, I have even more intensity, want to practice every day, want to be here,” Thompson said Tuesday, according to media on a Zoom call. “Because with that moment, the flash of everything here being done, just being grateful to be able to continue to play here and have the last couple months to just be with the guys, be able to play, be healthy and it not actually be over.”

Thompson is averaging 7.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, but more than the numbers he has provided Trayce Jackson-Davis with a solid frontcourt running mate. Teammate Xavier Johnson (foot) is still on the sideline, working toward an anticipated February return.

But IU (13-6, 4-4 Big Ten) is already gaining momentum, having won 3 straight heading into its game Wednesday night at Big Ten bottom-feeder Minnesota. The Hoosiers look more and more like the team they were anticipated to be before the season started.

“The fight in practice, and the intensity they had going into all these games when I’ve been out, since we started winning the last couple games, the intensity’s picked up, the focus has been better,” Thompson said. “Just competing in practice every day, I think is making everybody better.”

Jett grounded?

Michigan has its biggest game of the season on Thursday night, when it welcomes top-ranked Purdue to the Crisler Center.

But the Wolverines, having dealt with injuries all season, might have another 1, with sensational freshman Jett Howard potentially sidelined due to an ankle injury. Howard, who is averaging 14.6 points per game, was injured toward the end of the 1st half of Michigan’s win over Minnesota on Sunday, leaving him on the sideline. Duke transfer Joey Baker started the 2nd half against the Gophers, making only 1 of his 6 shot attempts. He’s averaging 4.5 points per game.

Howard’s X-rays were negative, reported head coach Juwan Howard on his podcast on Monday. While that’s good news, it’s still unclear whether the star guard will be ready by Thursday night.

“Jett’s down, because he wants to be out there and help his teammates,” Howard said on the pod. “He’s a big part of our team on both ends of the floor and not having him out there on the floor, yes, we miss a lot, but now it gives guys an opportunity to step up.

“We’re going to need Joey Baker as well as Isaiah Barnes, they’re going to get opportunities.”