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Big Ten Basketball Midweek Previews, Open Thread, Bracketology

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Michigan State in the Dance? Michigan a 2-seed? Will Iowa be stymied by Gonzaga again? Bracketology and week previews:

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 06 Big Ten Women’s Tournament - Ohio State vs Iowa Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Not much wild in the world of Big Ten hoops these days—the Michigan Wolverines, though currently shut down for a full 14 days, remain nosed out in front of Iowa for the Big Ten regular-season crown and the coveted NIT auto-bid that comes with it.

That means, I guess, that I’ll dust off Big Ten bracketology and round up how the conference is rating out and where the bracketologists plan on sending them in scenic Greater Indianapolis.

Big Ten Bracketology Roundup

As a guide: Lunardi and Dobbertean use “R1” through “R4” to refer to the regional brackets, breaking out, functionally, as the highest one-seed in R1 through the lowest in R4. Palm follows that convention with “H1” [Hinkle 1] and “H2”, but they’re reversed for “BL2” [Bankers Life 2], which is really the third one-seed, and “BL1”, which is really the fourth.

Got all that? Me neither. I’m not even sure I’m right. Moving on.

Quick Thoughts

  • Michigan stays among the one-seeds, just nosing into the fourth slot, if Chris Dobbertean of Blogging the Bracket is to be believed.
  • Meanwhile, a loss at Indiana dropped Iowa into the two-seed in Gonzaga’s section of the bracket—or Baylor, if they’re lucky—with a high three-seed like Virginia looming.
  • Both wisconsin and Ohio State appear to be in that comfortable “plucky mid-major” opponent category, though there’s a little more variance in the badgers’ positioning—I wouldn’t envy a first-round date with Belmont Bruins.
  • It’s all about being on the bottom of the bracket—in Michigan and Villanova country—if you’re a middling 4- or 5-seed like Illinois appears to be, but a minefield of second round Big XII opponents like Kansas or Texas Tech is no more inviting, is it?
  • Speaking of, how about Purdue sneaking onto a 5-line, in SBNation’s estimation? Much better Winthrop than a date with athletic and pacier teams like Stanford or Arkansas.
  • And who wouldn’t love to see Eric Musselman’s boys? I figure the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Richard Pitino seeing a potential replacement if he can’t figure it out. Of course, when the other option is North Carolina or MY surging and undefeated Drake Bulldogs...
  • I had Indiana pegged more at a First Four kind of team, but I guess there are only so many Big Ten squads you can jam in there, as Joe Lunardi’s attempted to do. Seeing the Hoosiers try to stop Saint Louis Billikens would be enjoyable, though, as a first-round game.
  • The First Four is tailor-made for teams like Maryland and Rutgers. Are they good? MAYBE! Should they just get a pass to the NCAA Tournament because the Big Ten is bloody and spidery? HELL NO! Make ‘em fight it out with North Carolina and Seton Hall, respectively. Bring back those ACC and Big East jams. That’s the stuff.
  • Michigan State should be nowhere near the NCAA Tournament right now, and screw anyone suggesting otherwise.

I always tell myself I’ll never let bracketology run too long, and there I go...

Poll

How many B1G teams in the Dance?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    9. Maryland and Michigan State on the outside.
    (40 votes)
  • 34%
    10. Maryland in, Michigan State out.
    (73 votes)
  • 18%
    10. Michigan State in, Maryland out.
    (40 votes)
  • 14%
    11. First Four for everyone!
    (31 votes)
  • 13%
    12. HERE COMES PENN STATE.
    (28 votes)
212 votes total Vote Now

Big Ten Basketball Games!

Lots to get to—a women’s hoops triple-header on BTN and a crapshoot in MSU-Sparty tonight.

Wednesday, January 27

Penn State Nittany Lions at #13 Ohio State

6pm | BTN | OSU -7.5 | O/U 146.5

The Lions, since their lengthy COVID layoff, lost two against physical teams like Purdue and Illinois but have since picked up two on the bounce over Rutgers and Northwestern. Ohio State presents more of a challenge defensively than the ‘Cats, but the Lions’ display at home against the Knights showed some good development against more defensively-minded teams.

Ohio State might still be too much on their home court, but it’s not a gimme.

Poll

(this words on two levels, you see)

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    blue state
    (5 votes)
  • 68%
    red state
    (11 votes)
16 votes total Vote Now

#14 wisconsin at Maryland

8pm | BTN | wisc -3.5 | O/U 129

Can Maryland repeat their upset of a couple weeks prior, but on their home court?

The Terps’ size and physicality brought the fight to wisconsin at the Kohl Center, but it doesn’t feel often that a badgers team scuffles with open looks like they did then. D’Mitrik Trice probably won’t pour in 25 again, but neither will Micah Potter, Nate Reuvers, and Brad Davison all be held under 10 points.

Unless...Maryland actually matches up well? We’ll see if bigger guards like Darryl Morsell and forwards Donta Scott and Jairus Hamilton continue to stymie the badgers’ bigs.

Poll

gimme

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    turtle
    (6 votes)
  • 71%
    skunk
    (15 votes)
21 votes total Vote Now

Thursday, January 28

Michigan State at Rutgers

6pm | FS1

This, if you can believe it, is the gimme for MSU—part of a three-game stretch in which the Spartans are on the road at Rutgers, at Ohio State three days later, and at Iowa two days after that. Positively brutal, but this is what COVID cancellations will do to you.

Of course, it’s surely safe for the athletes.

Poll

pick your roided up mascot

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    sparty
    (38 votes)
  • 55%
    knighty? knightro? the red guy
    (48 votes)
86 votes total Vote Now

{WBB} Rutgers at #7 Maryland

3pm | BTN

Two absolute coaching legends meet again. C. Vivian Stringer’s Knights are hanging by a thread in Charlie Creme’s bracketology as one of the Last Four In, while Brenda Frese’s Terps hold strong at a 2-seed after an 88-86 loss at #14 Ohio State.

This is the first game since January 3 for Rutgers, so your guess is better than mine...though Maryland, with star guard Ashley Owusu—coming off 33 at Ohio State—should roll.

Bracketology:
Maryland — 2-seed in Region 2 [1-seed UConn], vs. Fairfield
Rutgers — 10-seed in Region 3 [2-seed UCLA], vs. Syracuse

{WBB} Purdue at Minnesota

4pm | BTN+

Bracketology:
Neither in Charlie Creme’s latest projections.

{WBB} #23 Northwestern at Iowa

5pm | BTN

This was a donnybrook the last time between the ‘Cats and Hawkeyes, and odds are Iowa’s freshman phenom Caitlin Clark won’t be held to single-digits like the Northwestern “Blizzard” defense managed at home. What remains to be seen is whether ‘Cats ace Lindsay Pulliam has found her shooting stroke and if the undersize NU defense can contain Hawkeyes C Monica Czinano.

Bracketology:
Northwestern — 7-seed in Region 1 [2-seed Baylor], vs. Clemson
Iowa — 7-seed in Region 4 [2-seed Stanford], vs. vastly-superior Marquette

{WBB} Penn State at Illinois

6pm | BTN+

Bracketology:
Neither in Charlie Creme’s latest projections. They bad.

{WBB} #14 Ohio State at #16 Indiana

7pm | BTN

Ohio State is riding high off that upset of Maryland, while the Hoosiers are left ruing what could have been after beating ranked Northwestern over the weekend but having lost two games at #11 Kentucky and #7 Maryland by just 4 points each.

Worth a reminder that OSU has self-imposed a postseason ban over recruiting violations by former associate coach Patrick Klein.

Bracketology:
Ohio State — ineligible
Indiana — 3-seed in Region 4 [2-seed Stanford], vs. Long Beach State

{WBB} wisconsin at Nebraska

7pm | BTN+

Bracketology:
wisconsin — not included
Nerbaska — Next Four Out

Friday, January 29

#7 Iowa at #19 Illinois

8pm | FS1

Easily the game of the week and the only meeting between these two in the regular season—the Illini should be able to keep pace and score with the Hawkeyes, with Kofi Cockburn neutralizing a little of Luka Garza’s usual advantage on the inside and enough capable perimeter defenders to stop the usual aerial bombardment from C.J. Frederick, Jordan Bohannon, and Joe Wieskamp.

But can Ayo Dosunmu score enough to put the Illini over the top? I’ve talked myself into Illinois here, particularly with the shred of advantage home court provides...but damn if this won’t be fun (and full of complaints that Garza totally got fouled on that one play).

Poll

Clash in the Cornfields

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Iowa corn
    (32 votes)
  • 21%
    Illinois corn
    (16 votes)
  • 36%
    Pawnee corn
    (27 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now

Other Hoops, Sports, and Things?

Maybe I’ll get around to updating this, maybe I won’t. Here’s a schedule for tonight’s basketball. Drake tries to run its unbeaten record to 15-0 tonight at Missouri State Bears on ESPN3, and St. John’s-DePaul on FS1 should be good stupid fun.

Plus, you can see some of the best in the (Mountain) West: Boise State-Colorado State is 1-versus-3, while the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels are gunning (sorry) for a second straight home upset of Utah State in the late late slot on FS1.

Look! I got around to updating this! Drake is now 15-0!

Currently you’ve got a surprisingly frisky Oregon State squad taking on USC on ESPNU, with one of the few other non-Drake undefeateds in Winthrop Eagles following them on ESPNU at 6pm. Tune in to that one and get an idea of who will upset Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament!

Outside of that it’s...not exactly an inspiring evening. Southern Miss is one of the worst teams in C-USA, taking on LaTech at 6pm on CBSSN, and I would honestly believe you if you told me that Memphis Tigers and SMU have played 10 games this season. But they’re on ESPN2 at 7pm, if that’s your thing.

Instead, might I recommend a PlutoTV trial here?

I know, you’re rolling your eyes. But the FCS football season is on its way, and if you want to watch some of the better teams in I-AA—thinking of Weber State, Montana, and Montana State among others—you should give it a look. Tonight I’d recommend the Montana State Bobcats-Montana Grizzlies game as a precursor to the Griz-Cat (or Cat-Griz) rivalry game...the Brawl of the Wild!

Worst case, if you’re up late—and I was not last night—there’s Stanford-Arizona on ESPN2 leading into Cal-Sparky at 10pm on FS1 and what should be bad but interesting basketball on CBSSN at 10pm, with New Mexico traveling to Fresno State.

Here’s your open thread for the night. Do try to behave.