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Behind the bracket: Big Ten's big numbers in March

In a little over six weeks, the Big Ten is all but certain to make some obscure yet important NCAA tournament bracket history.

The conference is going to at least double its number of tournament bids from the previous season. And with a little luck, the league will do even better than that. Current projections have the Big Ten with 10 teams in the NCAA field, a whopping 250 percent increase over last season's four-bid embarrassment.

If these numbers hold, the Big Ten will become the second conference in tournament history to reach double-digit invites. The Big East, in its next-to-last season before realignment, collected 11 tourney invites and the 2011 national championship (Connecticut).

Even if the numbers dip a little, this season's Big Ten will land in the range of eight or nine teams selected. That would mark just the sixth occasion one conference reached the magic number of eight bids.

Eight is significant because it can allow for a team from the same conference to be placed in opposite halves of all four regions, making it theoretically possible for one league to close out the regional finals. Reality, of course, has a way of intruding on such possibilities. Which begs the question: From a conference point of view, is "quantity" or "quality" of bids preferred?

Let's rank the eight-or-more bid occurrences in an effort to find an answer: