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Bracketology & The Big Ten

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Blogging the Bracket talks Bracketology on OTE

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I marvel at the B1G this year, hoops-wise, because it seems everyone can beat everyone. It makes for fascinating basketball, but doesn't always translate to getting a bunch of B1G teams into the NCAA Tourney. So here we are, talking #B1G Hoops with SBN's own, @ChrisDobbertean, of Blogging the Bracket. OTE's writers had questions, Chris has answers.

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Where does Chris have B1G teams seeded in the NCAA Tourney? *as of January 20

MSU #8 seed

Maryland #2 seed

Indiana #9 seed

Wisconsin #2 seed

Iowa #7 seed

OSU #8 seed

Illinois #10 seed

...

Will all three teams from Iowa make the tournament? GO IOWA AWESOME.

But you forgot about Drake! Yeah, the Bulldogs most certainly will not make the field, barring a shocking run to the Arch Madness crown.

As for Iowa State, UNI, and Iowa, the Cyclones and Panthers are pretty much locks, or as much as you can be in late January, but things could get dicey for the Hawkeyes, just like last season. Iowa's inexplicable win at UNC and a sweep of Ohio State boost them for now, as does a lack of losses to teams from outside of the RPI Top 100 (with few opportunities to pick one of those up left, thanks to the Big Ten's overall strength). But the Hawkeyes will need to improve upon a 5-7 mark against the Top 100 and a 3-5 record away from Carver-Hawkeye. The latter shortcoming may be more difficult to overcome considering how they looked in both Madison and West Lafayette last week.

If MSU gets to 20 wins without picking up any impressive ones, do they slide into the field anyway, or is that Texas Southern loss enough of an albatross to put them in jeopardy?

Well, the Spartans are at 13 wins right now, and they have only four games left against teams that aren't really in the picture (Michigan twice, Rutgers, Northwestern). Provided they win all four of those, and three of those four are on the road, so that's not assured, they'll only need to defeat three decent opponents the rest of the way to get to 20. That should be enough, especially with the bubble for a 68-team field always being soft. These things don't happen in a vacuum though (a topic I'll get into further shortly).

What does Nebraska have to do to make the tournament outside of winning the BTT? Is there any way that we could see a last four in scenario?

Would you believe that the Huskers are actually in better position on January 26, 2015 than they were on January 26, 2014? It's true! Last season, Nebraska beat Minnesota at home on January 26th, after losing at Penn State -- to move to 10-9 overall and 2-5 in the conference, the start of a 10-2 push that carried them to 19-11 and 11-7 and a Round of 64 defeat to Baylor after a few nervous nights after a Big Ten quarterfinal loss to Ohio State.

This year's Cornhuskers are 12-7 and 4-3, though without a conference win away from Lincoln. Sure, they have three losses to teams outside of the Top 100, but so did last season's eventual NCAA qualifier.

The next four games are vital for Nebraska's hopes, though, as three of them are away from home (at Michigan, Minnesota, and Penn State) and three are against teams that could provide a dreaded bad loss (at Michigan and Penn State and Northwestern at home). Survive those four (or even drop one) and the opportunities for further quality wins will come.

What sort of conference finish does IU need to make the NCAA field? Will 8-10 in the B1G be good enough, or do we need to at least hit .500?

Right now, they're 5-2 in the conference, so that hypothetical 8-10 mark would be the result of an awful slide that would include a loss to one of Rutgers (who IU plays twice), Northwestern, or Michigan. Plus, they play Purdue twice, and if the Boilermakers decide they want to stop their January move into relevancy, the Hoosiers' schedule includes a couple more potential potholes.

Given what's to come, 9-9 would even be dicey considering the Hoosiers' strong early start in the league.

Remember, in this age of super-sized conferences and the death of the true round-robin, the teams you defeat (and fail to beat) to earn your conference record are far more important than the record itself.

After losing its team leader in points, rebounds, assists, blocks & steals for the season, does Michigan even make the NIT?

They should, especially if they play with as much determination as they did during regulation against Wisconsin on Saturdayevening. It may be close (I was joking on Twitter on Saturday night about a CBI semifinal lineup of Michigan, Florida, Syracuse, and UConn), but the Wolverines should have enough.

Why will Northwestern never make the Dance?

Being a fan of three perpetually hopeless teams, including the Cubs, I feel NU fans' pain. I think Chris Collins gets the Wildcats there at some point, maybe as soon as next season, but I figured a whole bunch of Bill Carmody teams were destined to get there in November, only for them to fail, often in inexplicable circumstances come March. So, I have to think the issues that seemingly have always plagued Northwestern -- facilities, academic standards hindering recruiting, bad luck -- are all still in play.

Is there a B1G storyline out there? "Can't win the big one"? "Definitely a down year"? Will that storyline hurt any B1G teams on the bubble?

I think the "down year" thing may come into play on Selection Sunday, as seedings as a whole may not be as high for B1G teams as usual. Sure, Wisconsin may have a shot at the top line, and Maryland's been a revelation (and a boost), but there could be a lot of difficult matchups in the middle of the bracket for the majority of the conference's qualifiers. That might very well affect the league's record and, ultimately, perception, come March and April.