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BT Powerhouse's NCAA Tournament Bracketology: Big Ten 2/24

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As the season winds down it looks like the Illini may be about to fade.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

We now have two full weeks left of the 2014-15 regular season and it's safe to say that, barring a colossal collapse, the conference will get at least six teams into the NCAA Tournament. Schools like Wisconsin and Maryland were locks already, but teams like Indiana and Michigan State have done enough that they should be primed to add bids as well. On the other side are two teams with their tourney odds still up in the air.

The first team, Purdue, is the last of the eight teams in contention to make a run towards the tournament. Luckily for them they added a key road win against the Hoosiers. If they're a toss-up on selection Sunday their fate will likely come down to if the committee puts more value on quality wins then bad losses, as two early season non-conference losses in December stain their resume (and RPI), but should mean less when you look at a growing list of quality wins down the stretch.

The other team that is up in the air is Illinois, a team with a considerably more likely chance to have their bubble pop. That being said, since the bracketology is in alphabetical order let's get the show started...

Illinois

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
17-10 7-7 57 58 61 5-9 at Iowa, Northwestern

The Illini have gone from "firmly in" to "why are they in?" to "dead in the water" and back to "in." Now a lot of people still have them in but that could change in a hurry. When breaking down the Illini's resume they'll likely need a lot of help if they want to sneak in (or they'll need ot make a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament), especially after failing to add a resume defining win in their last two games against Wisconsin and Michigan State.

Looking at the numbers and you see a team with a so-so record (17-10), a not-so-impressive conference mark (7-7), forgettable RPI (57) and only five wins against the RPI top 50. When all is said and done the only reason the Illini are currently still in for a lot of people is their win at Michigan State on the 7th, something somewhat spoiled after losing at home this past weekend to that same Spartans team. The schedule from here on out isn't exactly murders row, but the two toughest games (Iowa, Purdue) both come on the road against teams that will need the wins. While Illinois should be able to add home wins against Northwestern and Nebraska, neither will push the envelope much. If Illinois splits the remaining four games that would mean they'd end up 19-12 (9-9) with likely only five top 100 wins. Hell, the Illini are 10-10 against the RPI top 150. Simply put, they don't look (or play) like a tournament team.

Their fifth best win this year? Michigan. A team they have also lost against. If the Illini want to get in they'll need to go at least 3-1 the next two weeks or get a lot of help, putting their odds at serious risk. If the Illini drop a road game on Wednesday against Iowa, they will likely need to win out over the last three games. I don't see it happening and don't see the Illini sneaking into the tournament this year.

Prediction: Out

Indiana

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
19-9 9-6 32 29 43 8-9 at Northwestern

Fire Tom Crean. Wait, what? The Twitterverse keeps calling for Crean to get fired, even after the team decimated Rutgers by 30 on the road. This week will be a light week for the Hoosiers, traveling to Evanston to face the Wildcats in their only game of the week. A win here, which is more or less a lock, would get Indiana to 20-9 and with all of their wins this season (Maryland, Ohio State, SMU, Butler, Pitt, Illinois) that should do it. As long as Indiana doesn't lose out they'll be fine and that's not going to happen, so the Hoosiers should be back in the tournament after last years absence.

Prediction: In

Iowa

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
17-10 8-6 55 26 27 6-9 Illinois, at Penn State

After inexplicably losing to Minnesota and Northwestern, the Hawkeyes blew out Rutgers and Nebraska and once again are feeling better. Of course this week is a bit harder with the Illini coming to town and a road trip to Penn State on the weekend, but as long as the Hoosiers can take care of business there's little room to worry. With Indiana and Northwestern coming up next week, Iowa probably does need three wins to feel completely comfortable heading into Selection Sunday, with anything less possibly creating some concern and putting them potentially back in the first four. But if the Hawkeyes can play like they did last week, they should be fine. They do have 10 losses and an RPI of 55, though, so the margin for error is still relatively small.

Prediction:In

Maryland

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
22-5 10-4 10 28 39 8-5 Wisconsin, Michigan

Maryland is 22-5, tied for second in the Big Ten and has a RPI of 10th. They're a Tournament team, no questions asked. The only question is how high they can get seeded in the big dance and this week could go a long way to determine that. Their last three games include Michigan, Rutgers and Nebraska, all winnable affairs. If Maryland can upset Wisconsin at home they could very well finish the season 26-5 and if they can get to the Big Ten Tournament title game they could easily be a three seed. The Terps didn't face much opposition last week, only hosting Nebraska, and they do have a tendency to let teams hang around, but this week will be huge for the Terps when it comes to their seed in the NCAA Tournament if they can knock off the Badgers.

Prediction: In

Michigan State

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
19-8 10-4 28 36 18 6-6 Minnesota, at Wisconsin

Michigan State fell to 15-8 and things were starting to become a little tighter for the Spartans. Then they won four in a row, including three on the road, and they're now tied for second in the Big Ten with a firm spot in the NCAA Tournament. Of course their resume only has two top 50 wins (and six top 100 wins) and a lot of the weight in their stock is based around head coach Tom Izzo and his tradition of success in East Lansing, but State is also typically a great team come March. The season's remaining schedule is difficult, with Minnesota, Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana remaining, but as long as State can win a pair of games they'll be fine (while also adding some nice wins to the resume).

Prediction: In

Ohio State

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
19-8 8-6 41 91 17 6-8 Nebraska, Purdue

Ohio State's only game last week, a loss in Ann Arbor on Sunday, wasn't a pretty sight. Luckily Ohio State will be at home three of the next four games. There's been some murmuring of just how solid Ohio State's stock is, but they should be fine just like Michigan State. Besides a pair of quality wins (Indiana and Maryland), Ohio State also passes the name test and if on the bubble, will get the benefit of the doubt thanks to the success they've had over the years. That's before realizing the Buckeyes could win the next three games heading into a season finale against Wisconsin, with the Purdue match this weekend being their only difficult game over those next three. Simply put, there's too much talent here to expect a slip up this late into the season for the Buckeyes, especially since their only bad loss this season was last Sunday's game. And by now you're probably all aware that rivalries can be a total crap shoot.

Prediction: In

Purdue

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
18-9 10-4 59 80 45 8-5 Rutgers, at Ohio State

In the Boilermakers only game last week they added a huge road win against the Hoosiers. Now at 18-9 and 10-4 Purdue should be a NCAA Tournament team if they can close out the season at home and not suffer a bad loss in the Big Ten Tournament. Starting the week will be a home game against Rutgers, more or less a "must win" even if it won't elevate Purdue's chances much. Purdue has a pair of atrocious losses, but their 8-5 record versus the top 100 and a solid list of wins against quality opponents should hold more weight when everything is said and done. If Purdue can sneak out a road win this weekend and get to 20-9 they will likely solidify their tourney odds all together, but splitting the week will also suffice for now.

Prediction: First four in

Wisconsin

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
25-2 13-1 6 32 4 13-1 at Maryland, Michigan State

The Badgers won two more games again last week, though they came against Penn State and Minnesota. Things get a bit tougher this week with Maryland (on the road) and Michigan State facing the Badgers, with Wisconsin needing two wins to keep their hopes of a one seed alive. The way the season has played out the Badgers will likely need to win out to land a one seed and while road tests against Minnesota and Ohio State to close out the season will be tough, this week will likely be the Badgers biggest test until the final Saturday or Sunday before the official bracket is seeded.

Prediction: In

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