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2/19 Big Ten Basketball Mailbag: Big Ten Scheduling and Tournament Seeding, Purdue's NCAA Chances, and Chambers Hot Seat

The weekly BTPowerhouse Big Ten mailbag.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, BTP will be taking questions from readers on the hottest topics in the Big Ten and college basketball overall both on and off the court.  You can ask questions by using the hashtag #AskBTP or tweeting at @BTPowerhouse or @tbeindit.  The best questions will be selected on Wednesday night and our staff will respond in the coming days.

The 2/19 Big Ten Powerhouse Mailbag

Question #1

This week I got blasted with Purdue questions.  Most of them revolved around whether the Boilermakers will make this year's NCAA Tournament and why they are playing so much better than last year.  I picked this question because it combined most of these questions and added an interesting Big Ten Tournament element.

As I keep stressing both in these mailbags and in various other posts, one of the biggest changes that Big Ten fans are going to have to get used to this season is the new Big Ten Tournament bracket.  With the Wednesday games, things are going to change quite a bit.  For teams like Purdue, this could be even more important.

Things could obviously change, but I think it's a pretty safe bet that Purdue will go to Chicago with something on the line in the Big Ten Tournament this year.  I'm just really having trouble imagining that Purdue can somehow clinch itself in heading in and it seems unlikely that they will clinch themselves out either.  Just take a look at what Purdue has left on the schedule right now.

Purdue's Remaining Regular Season Schedule
  • at Indiana
  • Rutgers
  • at Ohio State
  • at Michigan State
  • Illinois
This is a difficult 5 game stretch, but it's certainly closer to manageable than it is unmanageable.  There are 3 games remaining where Purdue will be an underdog (all 3 road games) and there are 2 games where Purdue will be favored.  Even if the Boilermakers go 2-3 as the odds predict, they will be sitting at 19-12 overall and 11-7 in the Big Ten.  That's pretty much the definition of a bubble team.  So barring something weird, Purdue will be sitting firmly on the bubble when they head to the Windy City.

This is where this question comes in.  If the above scenario plays out, Purdue is absolutely going to need a win or two to feel safe on Selection Sunday.  Currently, Purdue is tied for 2nd in the conference standings, but given their upcoming games, they will probably finish somewhere in the 4 to 6 range.  As a refresher, the top 4 teams in the Big Ten this year will receive a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament and won't play until the third day.  Along with this, the #5 and #6 seeds get a bye from the first day of action and face the winners of the #11 vs #14 and #12 vs #14 games.

Given this scenario, the question is whether Purdue fans should want to be a #5 seed in this year's Big Ten Tournament as opposed to a #4 seed to get an extra chance at a manageable win.  Every win matters on Selection Sunday and it's pretty fair to think Purdue could be any of the #11 through #14 seeds.

Well, to start, I am going to assume that Purdue would have the same record regardless of whether they got the #4 or #5 seed.  Otherwise, the answer would be obvious.  However, assuming this is the case, I think you have an interesting debate between these two scenarios.

The answer to this question in my opinion depends on who wins that #12 vs. #13 matchup and faces the #5 seed.  Right now, Northwestern is the #12 seed and Penn State is the #13 seed.  If these teams remain here, I would absolutely want the #4 seed over the #5 seed.  The risk-reward here just doesn't make sense.  If you beat either of those teams, it's only going to be a slight boost to your resume, but if you lose, you are basically locked out of the NCAA Tournament.  On the other side, if Purdue is the #4 seed and loses to a team like Indiana in their first game, they still have a shot at an at-large bid.  However, if a team like Michigan or Minnesota falls to the #12 or #13, I think it would be a lot closer or give the #5 seed the edge because a win over those teams could actually help the resume significantly enough to risk a loss.

There's one final note I want to add here.  A better question might have been the #4 seed against the #6 seed.  This because if you are the #6 seed, you get on the opposite side of the bracket from Wisconsin.  This is going to be an important thing to keep in mind as it seems unlikely that anybody can take out the Badgers here.

Question #2

Love this question.  But seriously, this question was sent to me regarding the upcoming Big Ten scheduling release later this afternoon.  In the release, the Big Ten is going to be rotating the schedule and due to this, we will be seeing some of the best Big Ten rivalry games played only once next year instead of twice.

To start, I will be posting a full length editorial on this issue and doing a podcast for BTPowerhouse as well.  To put it simply, this is an issue that really bugs me and it's mainly because it's an awful policy.

Fans have been complaining about this policy for years and the Big Ten simply hides behind its scheduling policies as if they are policies that carry some significant weight.  The concept that games like Indiana and Purdue will be only played once and that one of those fanbases won't get that home rivalry game is astounding.  Perhaps they will change it one day, but I think the question here is right.  The Big Ten is being "stupid" about this.

Question #3

The question is regarding whether I think Patrick Chambers will be back for Penn State next season.  This is Chambers' fourth season at Penn State and there are many who are starting to wonder whether he will be the guy that can take the Nittany Lions to the next level.

As of now, I see no way Chambers doesn't come back unless he starts making more remarks about officials or something off the court.  Penn State has not been great under Chambers, but I think when you talk about things like "hot seats," you have to take the program into account as well.  Chambers has not been the best, but he's also not coaching at Duke or Kentucky here.  Expectations have to be brought into the equation as well.

Has Chambers met expectations?  Probably not.  His teams haven't been great despite having two of the best statistical players in Penn State history with Tim Frazier and DJ Newbill.  Up to now, he really only has a couple of upsets to show for his time with Penn State.  At some point, Chambers needs to show some W's to accompany stellar individual play.

For me, the time to show wins is coming, but I think that's next spring, not this spring.  Chambers has a decent recruiting class coming in next season and with some young players like Shep Garner, should have some pieces to work with and some decent depth.  He will be without DJ Newbill, but that's the money year in my book.  If he doesn't show it then, real questions need to start.  However, for now, he deserves at least one more year.