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Big Ten Bracketology, Week Preview

Experts have 7 or 8 teams in the Dance, but both Michigan and Illinois refuse to go away.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports


I'll try to get Chris Dobbertean's thoughts from Blogging the Bracket added when he posts them (as of midnight they're not up yet).

Edit: Here are Chris Dobbertean's thoughts:

Northwestern (9 vs. VaTech in the Buffalo section of the East),
MSU (10 vs. St. Mary's in the Orlando section of the East),
wisconsin (6 vs. Nevada in the Greenville section of the West),
Indiana (8 vs. MTSU in the Memphis section of the South),
Maryland (7 vs. Cal in the Indianapolis section of the South),
Michigan (9 vs. Dayton in the Tulsa section of the South),
Purdue (6 vs. Seton Hall in the Sacramento section of the South),
Minnesota (7 vs. Pitt in the Salt Lake City section of the South).

Ratings and Bracketology Joe Lunardi (1/16) Jerry Palm (1/16) Busting Brackets (1/16)
Team KP Sag. RPI # Reg. Opponent # Reg. Opponent # Reg. Opponent
Purdue 19 13 40 6 MW Illinois State 5 MW Nevada 6 S TTU/K-State
wisconsin 9 10 32 5 E Chattanooga 6 E URI/NC State 5 W Middle Tenn St
Minnesota 38 36 13 6 W Seton Hall/TTU 5 W Illinois State 6 E Arkansas
Indiana 26 23 84 8 W Virginia Tech 9 MW USC 8 MW VCU
Maryland 46 42 22 8 S Dayton 7 S Arkansas 6 MW Wichita State
Northwestern 33 33 42 9 E USC 7 MW South Carolina 8 E Dayton
Michigan St 44 39 41 8 MW TCU 8 S California 9 S Virginia Tech
Michigan 48 40 70 12* MW Wichita State - - First Four Out
Illinois 65 67 43 - - Next Four Out - - - 11* W Rhode Island
Nebraska 85 85 45 lol
Ohio State 58 55 78
Iowa 86 76 105
Penn State 80 77 61
rutger 137 132 135

I'm still rather surprised to see Illinois sneaking into two of the three major projections. Both the Illini and the Wolverines are flawed teams still capable of turning in absolutely insane afternoons at the office, but...right now it seems like they're laying more eggs than actually wowing.

Northwestern is a consensus "in." I still do not know how to process this information.

Mostly it's a little surprising to see wisconsin this low in the projections. I know their RPI is "low," but (1) RPI is dumb, and (2) they've got a just-fine resume. The loss to Purdue isn't that bad for the badgers, and Jerry Palm going as low as a 6-seed suggests that the Big Ten is just going to be punished for the conference's overall mediocrity this year.

Oh, and if you were wondering what the Big Ten Tournament would look like if the season ended today?


Illinois (12-6, 2-3 B1G) at #21 Purdue (14-4, 3-2)

6pm || BTN || Purdue -12.5

Which Illinois shows up? At this point, I have no clue, and I think Thump has given up trying to figure it out and just taken to raging about John Groce's lack of in-game coaching. Having watched both the rout of Michigan and the slopfest against Maryland, I can't say I disagree with him.

Almost a week removed from their upset loss at Iowa and Caleb Swanigan's first non-double-double of the Big Ten season, the Boilermakers will need to get back on the boards against Illinois, which has allowed just 39 offensive rebounds on the season. Vince Edwards needs to right the ship shooting the ball, too--he's 4 for his last 14, though he made all 8 of his free throws at Iowa.

Prediction: At home, against a streaky Illinois? Purdue, 74-61

Michigan (12-6, 2-3) at #17 wisconsin (14-3, 3-1)

8pm || ESPN || wisc -10.5

It literally doesn't seem possible, but teams are shooting 55.6% from deep against Michigan during Big Ten play. That's...just...what? How? The badgers, shooting nearly 40% in B1G play (third-best in the conference) behind the sharp-shooting of Bronson Koenig and D'Mitrik Price, should have their way against a defensively-suspect Wolverines club.

When Michigan has the there something about Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rakhman that I'm missing? Dude commands 27 minutes a game but only chips in 8 ppg, doesn't distribute the ball all that prolifically, the defense that good? Who knows; I probably just don't get it. But much as with Illinois, it's a tale of two Michigans: if the hot-shooting club that hung 91 on Nebraska turns up, the Wolverines could make this a game. If not, it's more of the Kohl Center House of Horrors.

Prediction: wisconsin, 72-59


Indiana (12-6, 2-3) at Penn State (11-7, 3-2)

6pm || BTN || IU -3.5

So...Penn State's 3-2 in the Big Ten. And that resurgence can be chalked up in large part to the play of freshman F Mike Watkins, who is averaging 13 and 12 over his last two appearances, wins over Michigan State and Minnesota. The hot play of the Nittany Lions' talented trio of freshmen has been aided by the shooting of Payton Banks, who is liable to go off from distance--and with Shep Garner, there'll never be a lack of chucking out of the Penn State frontcourt.

Indiana's limped to a disappointing 2-3, as Thomas Bryant hasn't shown up inside in the way I thought he would. Penn State's shown they're vulnerable to the deep ball (see the NU game at the BJC), and James Blackmon Jr and Robert Johnson certainly love to splash it from deep, both well over 40% on the season. There will be fireworks in this one if the eerie blue glow of the Arena that Basketball Forgot doesn't distract shooters--the Lions play the 29th-fastest tempo in basketball and the Hoosiers bring a Top-15 offensive efficiency rating.

Prediction: Indiana, 88-82

Ohio State (11-7, 1-4) at Nebraska (9-8, 3-2)

8pm || BTN || UNL -1.0

Both teams are missing key contributors lost to injury for the season--Keita Bates-Diop and Ed Morrow, respectively. I thought Ohio State had given up and was left for dead, but they eased past Michigan State and look like they still ahve a little gas in the tank. The Buckeyes have the athleticism to make this a long day at the home office for the Huskers, and I don't know if Tai Webster and Glynn Watson Jr will have the space and time on the perimeter to get their shots off.

Nebraska's got a top-half showing in their sights, though, with Purdue, Maryland, and wisconsin showing up just once each on the schedule (and Maryland being out of the way). I thought Tim Miles was headed for an early exit in Lincoln; I'm not sleeping on him to right the ship again for the Huskers.

Prediction: Nebraska, 66-62


#25 Maryland (16-2, 4-1) at Iowa (11-8, 3-3)

6pm || ESPN

Looks like the Terps are back on people's radar, jumping a full two spots in Busting Brackets and rising in the estimations of all three bracketologists. Despite asking Melo Trimble to shoulder even more of the scoring load this year (he just kept chucking en route to a 2/11 performance from deep against Illinois), the Terps have finally gotten the contributions they've hoped for out of Anthony Cowan, who added 15 against Indiana and 19 against Illinois.

Iowa, simply put, is just not going to play as badly as they did at Northwestern. Vic Law, though, did provide a blueprint for how to play really aggressive man defense against Peter Jok. With the junior hounding the Hawkeye sharpshooter, the rest of Fran McCaffery's club--save little-used Ryan Kriener--failed to show up against NU. With a young squad, getting Jok going is imperative, as it opens up shots for Jordan Bohannon and lanes for Tyler Cook to get to the basket.

I don't think the Terrapins' horseshoe remains quite so lodged up their ass for the rest of Big Ten play, and if Carver-Hawkeye is rocking on Thursday night, this smells of a real trap for Maryland. It'll take a defensive improvement from Iowa, but they could well do it.

Prediction: Iowa, 72-70