While it’s easy to put the top of the bracket together in late January, many teams near the cut line don’t seem interested in making cases for themselves.
The Big Ten was proof positive of that theory, with Ohio State, Nebraska, and Indiana continuing their tumble down the rankings, Northwestern proving definitively that they aren’t a tournament team (and we might even be including NIT there, too), and only Minnesota really helping themselves away from the NCAA Tournament bubble.
That’s right—according to Bracket Matrix, only six Big Ten teams are unanimous projections to make the Big Dance. How many is that?
Iowa’s barely hanging on, Fran. Don’t be so sure.
B1G Talking Points:
- The Michigan Wolverines have snuck back into the conference’s top spot overall, but the “experts” aren’t convinced they’ll be the Big Ten team on top of the pile when it’s all said and done. They effectively just swapped spots with Michigan State—a few tenths of a percentage point in Bracket Matrix.
- This has set up quite a showdown with Maryland and wisconsin on Friday—the Terps are pushing onto that 4/5-line, while the badgers are looking to get back there. And, meanwhile, Purdue is cruising. Five teams on a five-line or better would be quite a lift for the conference’s fortunes—and maybe the teams below?
- Home with Michigan and on the road at Indiana will likely tell us whether Iowa is going to slip in as a 9- or 10-seed, or spend another year in the NIT while Fran McCaffery’s seat goes up in flames. Their loss is Minnesota’s gain.
- Does the same apply to Tim Miles? Nebraska is stumbling under the weight of a tougher schedule and injuries—though I get the sense a seed is irrelevant for the Husker faithful, if they can just get out of the “0-fer the Tourney” wins column.
- I’m not sure how Ohio State is holding on but Indiana is already sliding into that top spot in the NIT. If ever there were a year for the conference to have a team or two in the First Four, though, this would be it. And it’s a nice, quick drive to Dayton from Columbus or Bloomington, I’d assume...
- Here lie the 2018-19 Northwestern Wildcats. Like 70% of their shots against Maryland, they will be missed.