Big Ten Bracketology: Five Bid League?

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

It's looking like the Big Ten may only get five teams into the big dance if things continue as is this season.

Another week, another up and down roller coaster. I think it's safe to say we have five locks (or near locks) in Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa (with the only way any of these teams misses is if they go into tank mode), but surprisingly enough it's looking like the league very well may be a five bid conference. Unless the stars align for Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Nebraska and Penn State, all five teams are likely playing for either a NIT or CBI bid. The two remaining teams on the bubble (Minnesota and Indiana) have gotten into the nasty habit of adding a quality win and then immediately making it irrelevant as they add a crushing defeat to the resume. It's more or less make or break for the two remaining bubble teams and losing many more games could very easily drop them out of contention altogether.

Team Record RPI SOS vs 1-50 vs 51-100 vs 101-200 vs 201+ Projection
Wisconsin 19-5 (6-5) 7 3 5-3 7-2 5-0 2-0 In
Michigan State 20-4 (9-2) 10 10 6-3 4-1 5-0 5-0 In
Ohio State 19-5 (6-5) 16 12 2-3 8-1 6-1 3-0 In
Michigan 17-6 (9-2) 17 9 6-4 3-1 4-1 4-0 In
Iowa 18-6 (7-4) 23 45 4-6 5-0 3-0 6-0 In
Minnesota 15-8 (5-6) 41 6 4-4 1-3 7-1 3-0 Bubble (Out)
Nebraska 12-10 (4-6) 69 20 2-7 2-0 4-3 4-0 Out
Illinois 14-10 (3-8) 70 47 1-6 1-2 7-2 5-0 Out
Indiana 14-9 (4-6) 78 63 2-5 2-3 4-1 6-0 Bubble (Out)
Northwestern 12-12 (5-6) 98 37 2-8 2-2 3-2 5-0 Out
Purdue 14-10 (4-7) 107 98 1-6 4-1 3-3 6-0 Out
Penn State 12-12 (3-8) 114 59 1-5 3-4 1-2 7-1 Out

Currently In

Wisconsin

Record 19-5 (6-5)
RPI 7 (12)
SOS 3 (3)
Non-Conf. RPI 4
Non-Conf. SOS 10
Average RPI WIn 98
Average RPI Loss 49
Vs. 1-50 5-3
Vs. 51-100 7-2
Vs. 101-200 5-0
Vs. 201+ 2-0
Key Wins Michigan State, Florida, Saint Louis, Iowa, Illinois
Key Losses at Indiana, Michigan, at Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State
Upcoming Games Minnesota, at Michigan

I think people need to stop basing their entire opinion of a team on a hot or cold streak, especially when how good (or bad) a team plays right now is largely irrelevant. Teams hot and cold streaks come March usually have little to do with how the team streaks in February or January. So we have a Wisconsin team that was a Big Ten contender and then a goat and now back to a respectable team no one wants to face.

The Michigan State win, following up an earlier win in the week versus Illinois, should have Wisconsin back on track. The Badgers will face two solid tests this week as they host Minnesota and travel to Ann Arbor this weekend, but if Wisconsin can get back to their style of basketball then they'll be a tough out regardless. At 6-5 in the conference, their three game deficit might be hard to overcome but third place is definitely in sight. The Badgers have a top 10 RPI and SOS, as well as 12 top 100 wins. While a Big Ten regular season crown seems unlikely, Wisconsin is still in the thick of things for just about everything else.

Prediction: In
Projected Tournament Odds: 100%

Michigan State

Record
20-4 (9-2)
RPI
10 (7)
SOS
10 (9)
Non-Conf. RPI
14
Non-Conf. SOS
66
Average RPI WIn
116
Average RPI Loss
29
Vs. 1-50
6-3
Vs. 51-100
4-1
Vs. 101-200
5-0
Vs. 201+
5-0
Key Wins
at Iowa, Ohio State, Kentucky, Oklahoma, at Texas, Indiana
Key Losses
North Carolina, at Wisconsin, at Georgetown, Michigan
Upcoming Games
Northwestern, Nebraska

The Spartans bounced back from a disappointing loss at Georgetown with an easy enough win versus the Nittany Lions. However, Michigan State failed to take full control of the conference as they dropped a game in Madison to Wisconsin. Now Michigan State is tied with the Wolverines but they'll benefit greatly from this week's schedule, facing Northwestern and Nebraska while Michigan faces Ohio State and Wisconsin.

The two game stretch this week could give Michigan State a one or two game lead heading into next week, when they kick things off with a game against the Wolverines. A win there would likely ice the conference and look for Michigan State to try to take care of that as early as possible. The Wisconsin loss wasn't exactly pretty, but it's highly unlikely they'll see that many more poor days from Gary Harris and of course the loss of Keith Appling was relatively crippling. If Michigan State can get (and stay) healthy, watch out.

Prediction: In
Projected Tournament Odds: 100%

Ohio State

Record
19-5 (6-5)
RPI
16 (20)
SOS
12 (19)
Non-Conf. RPI
6
Non-Conf. SOS
61
Average RPI WIn
114
Average RPI Loss
51
Vs. 1-50
2-3
Vs. 51-100
8-1
Vs. 101-200
6-1
Vs. 201+
3-0
Key Wins
at Wisconsin, at Iowa, Maryland, Notre Dame, Illinois
Key Losses
Penn State, at Minnesota, at Nebraska
Upcoming Games
Michigan, at Illinois

After the Penn State loss I vaguely remember stumbling across a poll on Eleven Warriors where many of the voters predicted the Buckeyes would be in the NIT come this March. What a difference several games makes for a team. Last month everyone was high on Ohio State, followed by everyone jumping ship shortly after. Now Ohio State has knocked off Wisconsin, Iowa and Purdue in a quick three game turnaround and everyone seems to be coming back on board.

Ohio State will host rival Michigan today in what could be a big game for both teams. Michigan is hoping to stay in the thick of things with Michigan State while Ohio State would love nothing more than to play spoiler and put themselves in position to make a run for a possible second or third place conference finish. If Ohio State wins versus Michigan it could get interesting fast as they'll follow today's game with outings versus Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Penn State and Indiana. The Big Ten is definitely unpredictable this year, but that's about as easy as you're going to get. Ohio State will then finish the season with a potential showdown at home versus the Spartans.

Prediction: In
Projected Tournament Odds: 99%

Michigan

Record
17-6 (9-2)
RPI
17 (14)
SOS
9 (11)
Non-Conf. RPI
67
Non-Conf. SOS
65
Average RPI WIn
120
Average RPI Loss
41
Vs. 1-50
6-4
Vs. 51-100
3-1
Vs. 101-200
4-1
Vs. 201+
4-0
Key Wins
at Michigan State, at Wisconsin, Iowa, Florida State, at Minnesota
Key Losses
Charlotte, at Indiana
Upcoming Games
at Ohio State, Wisconsin

Michigan started off their week bouncing back from an Indiana loss by dominating Nebraska on their home court up in the mitten. The Wolverines were looking to keep it up at Iowa but ended up getting man handled in a game that put Michigan State right back into the thick of things. However, the Spartans dropped a tough one versus the Badgers but the race has more or less been set for the Big Ten crown .

Now with the Wolverines hoping for a Big Ten title the going is about to get considerably more difficult as they'll travel to Columbus to face off against their sworn enemies (Ohio State) before hosting Wisconsin. If Michigan is for real then this week will definitely prove it, but the Iowa game didn't install a huge vote of confidence among the fan base. These two games will be particularly important as Michigan is currently tied with State at 9-2 and the Spartans have a considerably more favorable week with Northwestern and Nebraska coming up. The two teams meet next week but if this week goes poorly the Wolverines could be two or three games out and out of the Big Ten race after next weeks showdown with State.

Prediction: In
Projected Tournament Odds: 99%

Iowa

Record
18-6 (7-4)
RPI
23 (22)
SOS
45 (67)
Non-Conf. RPI
25
Non-Conf. SOS
239
Average RPI WIn
153
Average RPI Loss
10
Vs. 1-50
4-6
Vs. 51-100
5-0
Vs. 101-200
3-0
Vs. 201+
6-0
Key Wins
Michigan, at Ohio State, Minnesota, Xavier
Key Losses
Ohio State
Upcoming Games
at Penn State

The Hawkeyes added another loss to a solid team, dropping a home game to Ohio State. The loss wasn't shocking but it was disappointing as Iowa dropped a chance for a marquee win and the game was on their home court. They of course made up for it, blowing out the Wolverines, but the Ohio State loss makes it unlikely the Hawkeyes will contend for the Big Ten regular season title.

Iowa's only game this week will come on the road versus Penn State. The game is definitely winnable and anything besides a win will be disappointing for Iowa, but a lot of teams have struggled in Happy Valley. Nonetheless, I'd imagine Iowa adds their eighth conference win this weekend. Iowa's closing schedule isn't the most difficult thing in the world, either, with Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois all still coming up. Of course games versus Wisconsin and Michigan State will be a challenge, but Iowa still has plenty of opportunities to rack up wins and boost their resume.

Prediction: In
Projected Tournament Odds: 99%

Bubble

Minnesota

Record
16-8 (5-6)
RPI
41 (38)
SOS
6 (6)
Non-Conf. RPI
45
Non-Conf. SOS
37
Average RPI WIn
134
Average RPI Loss
50
Vs. 1-50
4-4
Vs. 51-100
1-3
Vs. 101-200
7-1
Vs. 201+
3-0
Key Wins
Wisconsin, Ohio State, Florida State, at Richmond, Purdue, Indiana
Key Losses
Arkansas, at Nebraska, Northwestern, at Purdue
Upcoming Games
at Wisconsin, at Northwestern

The up and down season for Pitino and company continues on for another week, with the Gophers dropping a triple overtime thriller (of sorts) to Purdue on the road. The game cemented a three game losing streak to three of the worst teams in the conference and seemed to be the knock out punch. Then Minnesota bounces back and knocks off the equally up and down Hoosiers and puts themselves right back into the thick of things. Minnesota has several big wins, knocking off Wisconsin and Ohio State, but their losses are looking very bad and starting to grow. Things likely may continue on the same path as it'll be tough to go into Madison and knock off Wisconsin, but I'd say the odds of avenging the Northwestern loss seem relatively likely. If Minnesota splits the week, though, their loss total will be piling up pretty quickly.

If Minnesota can finally start to take care of business in their more winnable matchups, there's a late three game stretch against Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan that will likely determine their postseason fate. If Minnesota can add three wins versus Northwestern, Illinois and Penn State, and then win two games out of that three game stretch (and this weeks Wisconsin matchup), they're in. If they can't hit 21 wins, it'll likely require a solid showing in the conference tournament. Minnesota's biggest advantage right now is it's hard to imagine only five Big Ten teams getting into the NCAA Tournament and Minnesota holds the edge over Indiana in record, RPI, SOS, Top 50 wins and has won the sole matchup between both squads. Nonetheless, Minnesota still has some work to do to get in but at this point their destiny is solely in their hands.

Prediction: Out
Projected Tournament Odds: 50%

Indiana

Record
14-9 (4-6)
RPI
78 (67)
SOS
63 (50)
Non-Conf. RPI
47
Non-Conf. SOS
202
Average RPI WIn
174
Average RPI Loss
48
Vs. 1-50
2-5
Vs. 51-100
2-3
Vs. 101-200
4-1
Vs. 201+
6-0
Key Wins
Wisconsin, Washington, Illinois, Michigan
Key Losses
Northwestern, at Nebraska, at Illinois, UCONN, Notre Dame, at Minnesota
Upcoming Games
Penn State, at Purdue

The Hoosiers seemed to right the ship, or at least put themselves back on track, last weekend when they beat Michigan. However this past week they fell in their only game, losing to another bubble team in Minnesota. The loss is especially concerning because now the Hoosiers have next to no room for error. Sitting at 14-9 and two games under .500 in the conference, the Hoosiers also have to contend with only four wins versus the top 100, several bad losses (Northwestern, Nebraska, Illinois, Notre Dame) and a middling RPI at 78. Did you notice that said RPI puts them behind Nebraska AND Illinois?

So where does that leave the Hoosiers? Well it puts the pressure on Tom Crean to get his team to win both games this week. You'd think winning at home versus Penn State was an easy enough task, but the Hoosiers did drop a game in Bloomington to Northwestern so who knows. The road trip to West Lafayette, the only regular season matchup between the two bitter rivals, could very well be an elimination game for Indiana. If the Hoosiers lose either game (or worse, both), it'd likely require Indiana to go almost perfect down the stretch. With Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan all still on the table, there's opportunities for quality victories. At the same time there's also an easy two or three losses possible, which would likely force Indiana into "win the Big Ten Tournament or go to the NIT" territory.

Prediction: Out
Projected Tournament Odds: 40%

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