Holy moly, those crazy kids in Piscataway did it.
Leaving the cozy confines of the ARC, Steve Pikiell & Co. surfaced in West Lafayette not to take their lumps as they had in eight other Midwestern cities (save Lincoln), but to claim their spot in the Big Dance. Good for the Knights.
Meanwhile, Indiana failed in its mission to (1) move off the bubble and firmly into a 9- or 10-seed and first-round loss, handing wisconsin the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament in the process; Michigan State thumped a game Buckeyes club, and Maryland saw off Michigan in its seniors’ home finale.
And, in the process, a super shoutout to a few coaches really showing their whole asses in the process! Let’s take a little rundown, shall we?
Maybe Holtmann’s worried about the coronavirus
Per @LarryLage , Chris Holtmann in his postgame press conference complained about the Spartans kissing the Spartan head and said it should happen after the game.— Seth Wells (@SethTVSports) March 8, 2020
Archie can NOT tell you how to get to
Sesame Street the Big Dance
Strong thoughts postgame from @IndianaMBB head coach Archie Miller about @ESPNLunardi and the #bracketology shows. @WISH_TV pic.twitter.com/2WNiSWOAjc— Jason Thompson (@jasont0420) March 7, 2020
Remember that this is the man whose wife lost her shit and spent an evening bitching about how Northwestern basketball got all the calls after losing to the moribund ‘Cats in the United Center. So... I mean...
...not totally out of character for Ol’ Archie.
B1G Talking Points
Michigan State Spartans (projected 3-seed)
Well, it finally happened. Michigan State moved into the top slot in the Big Ten’s projected seedings, and it’s not close. Here are your rooting interests:
- Either Creighton or Villanova to crash out of the Big East Tournament early. The private schools are the bottom end of the 2-seed range but hold the #1 and #2 seeds in their conference tournament, respectively.
- Fuck Duke. Obviously.
- In the Big Ten Tournament, finish above...
Maryland Terrapins (projected 3-seed, just barely)
Oofda. In Bracket Matrix, the Terrapins are just .01 ahead of Kentucky, putting them on a 3-line instead of a 4. They’d still be getting the worst of the 13s, which is a North Texas- or New Mexico State-level of team, but it guarantees one extra game against the best of the 2-seeds (San Diego State or Florida State) rather than the worst of the 1-seeds (Gonzaga or Dayton). So...uh...rooting interests?
- A Pac-12 Tournament winner that’s not Oregon. Unless the Ducks (who are behind Kentucky but trail Maryland by a decent margin) win the whole thing (and that would probably include just 1 really notable win over Colorado or Arizona), they’re not jumping the Terps.
- Kentucky to lose (obviously).
- Fuck Duke Blue Devils (more a way of life with you people, though).
Ohio State Buckeyes (projected 4-seed, 4.66) and wisconsin badgers (5-seed, 4.73)
Just .07 separating these two, but it’s the difference between a 4-seed and a 5-seed, evidently. Here’s who they should be looking for:
- Not-Auburn to win the SEC Tournament.
- Not-Butler in the Big East.
- It’ll take a big win (like, conference championship-level) for either of these clubs to make up the .8-.9 difference between their seeds and Louisville, so unless Chris Mack’s squad takes an early tumble in the ACC Tournament, it’s badgers vs. Buckeyes for that 4-line.
Iowa Hawkeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, and Michigan Wolverines (projected 6 seeds)
Two teams on the tumble, one team that’s just kind of hanging around and might not actually be that good? Sure. Here’s what to watch for:
- West Virginia to take an early loss in the Big 12 Tournament.
- There’s a pretty big berth between the end of the fives (BYU at 5.21) and WVU at the top of the sixes (5.79) before we get to Iowa (6.04), PSU (6.21), and Michigan (6.26), so this is a “win the BTT to get a 5” kind of proposition.
- Hope, as fans of good basketball everywhere do, that Virginia (6.62, 7-seed projection) loses. Fuck Bennett-Ball.
Illinois Fighting Illini (projected 7-seed)
The Illini got a nice, gritty home win over Iowa on Sunday, giving them a little space between one of the mediocre middle teams in the Pac-12 (Arizona) and some vague at-large bids like LSU and Providence. There’s almost a full point separating Illinois and the bottom 6-seed (Michigan), meaning the Illini could jump UVA or Colorado and it still might not do much. Just don’t take a bad loss, and hope none of...
- St. Mary’s
...win their conference tourney.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (projected 9-seed)
LOOK AT YOU, RUTGERS!
It’s not perfect, but the Knights have moved off the bubble and into the Dance. Barring a whole bunch of conference upsets vaulting mid-majors like East Tennessee State or Richmond firmly into the Dance as an at-large or conference champion, respectively.
In terms of seeding, as the low 9 on the totem pole, the Knights are looking around at Oklahoma and Arizona State, while they should keep an eye on passing USC or Florida if they can finally get past Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.
Otherwise just be happy with the 9 (or, maybe, 10).
Indiana Hoosiers (projected 10-seed)
Texas taking a beating at the hands of Oklahoma State and UCLA scuffling late has been a boon for the Hoosiers, who haven’t gotten that one win to put them over the top. But with the bubble popping for a number of other teams, Indiana has to get the required 11-14 win over Nebraska—a loss would be disastrous, obviously, but the 7-man Husker rotation has all but quit—and then avoid a loss to Penn State so horrific it makes the committee exclude the Hoosiers out of pure spite.
Purdue Boilermakers (Others Receiving Votes)
Do the following:
- Win the Big Ten Tournament
Otherwise it’s looking like the Boilers are a lock not only for the NIT—barring wins over Ohio State and Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament, which feels unlikely—but perhaps a 1-seed in the tournament and a Round 2 date with Notre Dame.
And wouldn’t that be fun?
Minnesota Golden Gophers (NIT possibility?)
Esteemed NIT bracketologist John Templon (@nybuckets) not only expects the NIT to get really crowded really fast, but to not take any sub-.500 teams. He does, however, has his concerns:
Minnesota is just destroying Nebraska. I figured that would happen. If the Gophers go 1-1 in the Big Ten Tournament would they get an NIT bid under .500? Gut says no, but it scares me.— John Templon (@nybuckets) March 8, 2020
Joe Stunardi agrees, noting that the conference tournament loss by Furman and Syracuse slippage means...
...finish under .500. We believe it’s not a rule that they’ll be excluded (as of 2017), and we don’t have enough data since 2017 to know what’ll happen, but if both finish 15-17 or 16-17 they’ll be interesting test cases— Joe Stunardi (@joestunardi) March 8, 2020
Lots of excitement as the Sword of Damocles dangles over Little Richard’s head.
Be sure to give both John and Stu (@joestunardi) a follow on Twitter, and check out Mid-Major Madness and The Barking Crow, respectively, for all your spiciest NIT takes.
Northwestern Wildcats (CBI hopefuls)
Feels like #B1GCats2CBI should be a thing. I’m just throwing this out there. Do with it what you will.
There’s your first bracketology update of the week! Will we be back with more tomorrow? Maybe! Will I get busy/annoyed and forget about this conceit? Probably! But let us know your thoughts in the comments—who will be overseeded, and why is it Maryland? Who will be underseeded, and why—unfortunately—is it wisconsin?