ESPN's Bracketology is new and with it, Penn State has been introduced to the field. Michigan State, Illinois and Minnesota saw their seeds slip. Purdue and Wisconsin's seeds rose, while Ohio State remains a steady one seed. The addition of Penn State also gives the Big Ten one extra team, making a total of seven. Assuming Michigan State gets in, which is not going to be easy by any means, the Big Ten looks to have seven teams in the tournament come March. That would be the best case scenario for the Big Ten Conference overall. After our conference faltered to impress football minds across the nation on New Years Day this year, a day in which the Big Ten went 0-5 in bowl games, it is up to the basketball teams of Big Ten to advance deep into the tournament to show the nation why we are who we say we are.
Teams projected to be in the tournament:
Penn State: Projected 12 Seed: Penn State has gone from a projected last place Big Ten contender to being projected in the NCAA Tournament. They are still on the bubble but have been moving up every week. They have gone from out of the tournament to the next four out to the first four out and now are sitting in the last four in, which is where they want to be sitting in March. It is possible for Penn State to rise off the bubble and not even become a thought to the committee in March due to the fact that they still play four ranked opponents including number one ranked Ohio State at home. Right now, the Nittany Lions are projected to be in first round, which is now known as the First Four. The First Four is the first four games of the tournament that will be played in Dayton, Ohio. They are essentially play-in games, where two teams with the same seed compete to get into the second round. This is part of the new format for the expanded tournament. In that First Four game, Penn State is projected to play 12 seed Missouri State from the Missouri Valley Conference.
(More teams after the jump)
Ohio State: Projected 1 Seed: Ohio State will be Ohio State. They are undefeated and are on their way to locking up a number one seed. I keep saying the same things about Ohio State every week. They are good. There really isn't anything left to say. Keep in mind, they still have to play at Minnesota, at Wisconsin, at Purdue and at Penn State. They also host Illinois and Wisconsin still. We will see if they can survive with their undefeated record through a traitorous finish. They are bound to slip up somewhere, right?
Purdue: Projected 3 Seed: Purdue has moved from a three seed to a four seed, after dropping from a three to a four last time. Joe Lunardi finally corrected whatever mistake he had made. If you remember, my complaint last time was looking at Purdue's RPI and wins, they deserved a three seed and Lunardi had moved them down a spot when they had moved up everywhere else. Lunardi's seeds this time seem to represent what seeds the teams would get if the season ended today, as it should be. Purdue still has to play at Illinois. They still have home games against Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio State as well. All the games listed could help Purdue out tremendously in seeding if they win, but could be detrimental to them if they were to lose most of them.
Wisconsin: Projected 4 Seed: Wisconsin moved up from a five seed to a four seed after their home win over Purdue. That is where I think they will end up when all is said and done. A four seed sounds right for this Wisconsin team, who was extremely underrated to begin the year. They still have to play Ohio State twice, one at home and one on the road. Wisconsin can improve their seed with wins in both of those games. While it doesn't seem likely, at least when they travel to Ohio State, if they pull it off, they could snag a three seed as well as make the Big Ten race interesting.
Illinois: Projected 7 Seed: Illinois has moved from a six to a seven seed. I can't really argue with that because the Illini are 2-5 in their last seven games. That is not the direction you want to be going to improve your seed. It is still possible for the Illini to get a better seed because they still have teams on the schedule such as, Ohio State, Minnesota and Purdue (twice). The Illini are going through something right now, and need to get the ship righted before March. I don't think they will fall out of the tournament, but it is possible given their remaining schedule.
Minnesota: Projected 8 Seed: Minnesota falls from a six to an eight seed. This comes after losing two straight, losing one at Purdue and the other at Indiana. Minnesota should get a better seed than an eight come March. They still have to play OSU and Illinois at home. Which they need to at least split to improve their seed some. They also face PSU twice yet, so they do have opportunities to improve their seed.
Michigan State: Projected 10 Seed: Michigan State has moved down even farther from an eight to a 10 seed. They continue their desent into the unknown. They do have time to correct theirselves and improve their seed some. It won't be easy though, they have probably one of the hardest schedules to wrap up the season, with games like Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota on the road. They do get Purdue, Illinois and Penn State at home. If they can once again turn the Breslin Center into an intimidating place, they could snag some wins. Tom Izzo has his work cut out for him. This is a Michigan State team that was ranked two in the nation to begin the season and projected to go to another Final Four. Morgan, Allen and Lucious are no longer the problem. So what is?
Teams on the bubble:
Last Four In: Penn State
First Four Out:
Next Four Out: