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BT Powerhouse's NCAA Tournament Bracketology: Big Ten 2/10

The Big Ten is back to seven teams in the NCAA Tournament...for now.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten is always unpredictable it seems, with this week being no different. After a home upset over the Buckeyes it looked like Purdue finally edged their way into the tournament according to pretty much every person who runs a Bracketology feature. Now after a close loss to Minnesota they've fallen back to the toss-up stage and the Illini have taken their slot as the last Big Ten team currently in. I think when everything is said and done Purdue will have a better chance to get there over an Illinois team likely to start regressing in a hurry, though.

On the flip side, Iowa strengthened their resume while the Spartans are starting to reach a point where they could find themselves in trouble in a hurry. Even teams firmly in the tournament are finding themselves in trouble, with Ohio State needing to find a way to overcome the suspension of Marc Loving and the Terps needing to find a way to stop getting blown out on the road.

Anyways, on to the Bracketology overview.

Illinois

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
16-8 6-5 47 69 56 5-7 Michigan, at Wisconsin

Even with the injury and suspension issues hindering the Illini, they have somehow managed to keep themselves alive in the tournament race. And if the season ended today, they'd definitely be in the NCAA Tournament thanks to a road win against Michigan State. Unfortunately for Illinois their next four games are brutal, hosting Michigan and Michigan State while traveling to Wisconsin and Iowa. If Illinois wants to retain their spot in the tournament they're going to need to find a way to split the next four and that seems quite the task for a depleted roster. They're quite alive and would be in if the season ended today, but I still think Illinois is going to fade to the NIT over the next month.

Prediction: First Four

Indiana

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
17-7 7-4 32 35 51 8-7 at Maryland, Minnesota

The Hoosiers split last week, losing to Wisconsin and edging Michigan. A loss to the Wolverines could have been a huge problem for Indiana, but they saved face and snuck out a win. Now if they can knock off Maryland again they'll be in great shape. The reality is if Indiana can split this week they should be fine, especially with their most difficult games after Maryland all coming at home. There's plenty of opportunities for some nice quality wins, Indiana just needs to avoid slipping up over the next few weeks. Also, push come to shove, having five wins against the top 50 and every loss to teams in the top 75 will benefit Indiana considerably when comparing their body of work to other tournament teams.

Prediction: In

Iowa

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
15-8 6-4 38 10 27 6-8 Minnesota, at Northwestern

The Hawkeyes were at a crossroads last week with the past week likely defining if Iowa was a tournament team or just a NIT squad. After easily knocking off Michigan and Maryland the Hawkeyes are back in the driver seat and have two winnable games with Minnesota and Northwestern coming up this week. The schedule is now set to soften up considerably and the question is how far Iowa can trend upwards. Outside of a road trip to Indiana in March, Iowa will likely be favored in the rest of their games throughout the season and are now sitting nicely on the right side of the bubble.

Prediction:In

Maryland

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
19-5 7-4 16 44 38 8-5 Indiana, at Penn State

I've been repeatedly mentioning the sporadic performance of the Terps under Mark Turgeon and that once again reared it's ugly head this weekend with a blowout loss at Iowa. The Terps have now been blown out in three of their last five games, all of which came on the road. They'll have an opportunity for some revenge this week as they host Indiana, but Maryland needs to find some consistency if they want to stay in the hunt for a solid NCAA seed. The way Maryland has been playing down the stretch this is a team that could easily fade into the 7-10 seed territory in a hurry, especially if they drop another game to Indiana. Don't write off this weekends game either, with Maryland traveling on the road to face a Penn State team that gave them problems on their home court.

Prediction: In

Michigan

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
13-11 6-6 79 16 87 5-9 at Illinois

Michigan is a team likely to get dropped from this list in the near future after dropping two games this past week. Going 1-4 the last five games and facing serious injury / depth / youth issues, the Wolverines have been close on so many nights but couldn't pull off the wins when they had the opportunities. Now the reality is Michigan will likely be an underdog the rest of the month until they close out the season versus Northwestern and Rutgers. From here on out it will likely be about improving their resume enough to warrant a NIT bid. Regardless of the Wolverines disappointing season, they're still going to be a hard out for most teams in the conference.

Prediction: Out

Michigan State

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
15-8 6-4 52 46 28 4-6 at Northwestern, Ohio State

Oopsy. The Spartans suffered a horrendous home loss to Illinois this past week. Horrendous when you realize that the five point defeat stemmed from a horrid 7 of 18 performance from the free throw line. Suddenly State's 15-8 record, so-so RPI and only four wins versus the top 100 makes the Spartans resume seem pretty weak. Especially when you realize four of the remaining eight games include road trips to Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, while hosting Ohio State, Minnesota and Purdue. On one hand things could go south in a hurry, but the Spartans could also bounce back and put themselves in solid position. If they can avoid an inexplicable upset in Evanston and if they defend home court versus Ohio State it will be a good start to getting things back on track. If the Spartans continue to struggle it could be a rough close to the season, especially with three of the next four games after this week being road trips.

Prediction: In, for now

Minnesota

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
15-9 4-7 88 80 46 4-8 at Iowa, at Indiana

The Gophers could have been a legitimate bubble team if they wouldn't have inexplicably lost five close games to open the Big Ten Season. As is, the Purdue win keeps their slim hopes alive. With Iowa and Indiana on the docket this week, both of which are on the road, Minnesota could reemerge quite easily if they win both of these games. However, two losses would likely eliminate their chances. Splitting this week would also prove to be problematic for the Gophers unless they can win at least two (if not all three) during an upcoming stretch that includes Wisconsin twice and a road trip to Michigan State. They're still mathematically alive, but at this time it's still a longshot for Pitino and company.

Prediction: Out

Nebraska

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
13-10 5-6 101 81 109 4-7 Wisconsin, at Purdue

In all honesty I'm not sure why I included the Cornhuskers on the list this week as they're more or less dead in the water unless they can win out or go something like 6-1 over the next month with a win or two in the Big Ten Tournament. The schedule is also going to become extremely difficult with Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland (twice), Iowa, Ohio State and Illinois remaining. Oh, and the Cornhuskers were held to 43 points against bottom dwelling Penn State in a blowout loss. Nebraska will be hard to beat at home but they haven't won a road game in the Big Ten this year and have dropped every road trip in the B1G by double digits. This year isn't the year for Tim Miles and company.

Prediction: Out

Ohio State

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
18-6 7-4 33 84 14 5-6 Penn State, at Michigan State

The Purdue loss wasn't pretty for Ohio State but they bounced back nicely in a rout at Rutgers. Now the schedule has plenty of winnable games with several opportunities for some big road victories, starting this weekend when the Buckeyes travel to East Lansing. In all honesty the worst thing to happen to Ohio this week, and the biggest problem heading forward, was the suspension of Marc Loving. Loving's suspension is on-going for an off the court incident that hasn't been specified and the Buckeyes will be at a disadvantage if they can't get him back soon. Their resume and schedule means they should still make the tournament easily, but this will be a lesser Buckeyes team come March if they can't get Loving back.

Prediction: In

Purdue

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
15-9 7-4 72 57 54 8-6 at Rutgers, Nebraska

Turnovers ruined the chance for a huge road victory at Minnesota and now the Boilers have little room for error this week. Purdue should benefit from an easier stretch this week, traveling to Rutgers before hosting a Nebraska team that has been dreadful on the road, and if they can win both they'll be back in bubble consideration with a 17-9 (9-4) record that will likely keep them tied for second in the conference. If Purdue wins these games and can take care of business at home against Rutgers and Illinois, that means at least 19 wins and they may only need one upset and maybe a Big Ten Tournament win in their opener to get into the tournament. The loss to Minnesota makes things somewhat trickier, especially with the three most difficult remaining games all on the road, but Purdue is in considerably better shape then they were several weeks ago, especially after the win versus Ohio State and the rising stock in Iowa (who they beat) and Illinois (making the loss look less problematic). If this team had beat North Florida and Gardner-Webb they'd be nearing lock status, but as is, there's work remaining.

Prediction: Out, for now

Wisconsin

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
21-2 9-1 6 30 6 11-1 at Nebraska, Illinois

The Badgers convincingly took care of business last week against Indiana and Nebraska and will look to add two more wins again this week, this time searching for a difficult road win at Nebraska before hosting a pesky Illinois team. The Badgers are pretty firmly positioned as a two seed and will likely need some help to sneak back into the consideration for a one seed, but if they play like they did last week they'll have an opportunity if they can win out. That Rutgers loss, regardless of the injury issues they were facing, still looms large and could be the reason Wisconsin may have to settle for a two seed this year.

Prediction: In

Note: For the RPI and SOS numbers I used ESPN's Daily RPI listings (I like their team charts) from Monday night.