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BT Powerhouse's NCAA Tournament Bracketology: Big Ten 2/3

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The Big Ten is beating up on itself and the idea of the league receiving only five bids is now a real possibility.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Another week closer to the NCAA Tournament and another edition of our Big Ten Bracketology. This week we finally dropped Penn State and it looks like Nebraska could be the next to go. The way things have been playing out there's a real possibility the conference may only get five teams in the big dance, especially with the recent Iowa skid and the recent suspension of star Illini player Rayvonte Rice. Anyways, onto the bracketology.

Illinois

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
14-8 4-5 59 63 74 4-7 Rutgers, at Michigan State

The Illini won their only game this past week, edging Penn State by two points on the 31st. The win will ultimately do very little for their resume and was mainly a necessity simply to avoid a bad loss. At 14-8 and 4-5 in the conference, with a so-so RPI and SOS, Illinois is a bubble team but that could go either way in a hurry. Making things particularly more problematic was the indefinite suspension of Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby. While both have been dealing with injuries, they were both expected in the near future and the loss of both guys, especially Rice, could be the knockout punch for Illinois. This week's slate includes a game versus Rutgers that Illinois just needs to get through and then a difficult road trip to East Lansing. With an incredibly tough schedule following this week (Michigan, at Wisconsin, Michigan State, at Iowa), Illinois really needs an upset over Michigan State or it's tournament hopes will be hanging by a thread.

Prediction: Out

Indiana

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
16-6 6-3 34 43 50 7-6 at Wisconsin, Michigan

The Hoosiers didn't have a pretty week, dropping to Purdue and struggling with Rutgers, but at least they avoided a dreadful loss at home to Rutgers. This week will get pretty rough with a trip to Madison before hosting Michigan and if they drop both then Indiana might be a bit more of a question mark on the bubble. A few people on the internet have mentioned they see Indiana regressing back towards being firmly on the bubble, but it's still going to take several losses for the Hoosiers to sink that far. Considering the resume, the team and how they've played...they could just as easily sneak one out against the Badgers and come close to locking up their tournament spot. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the year pans out for Tom Crean and his young Hoosiers, but for the time being they're still sitting nicely.

Prediction: In

Iowa

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
13-8 4-4 51 10 47 4-8 at Michigan, Maryland

The Hawkeyes were involved in the First Four last year and if they make it back to the tournament it seems like that could be a likely landing spot once again. Coming off of a week where Iowa lost to Wisconsin and Purdue on the road, the Hawkeyes dropped their only game this past week versus the Badgers. Iowa's now riding a three game losing streak, racking up losses and suddenly that North Carolina game is becoming a distant memory. Iowa swept Ohio State, which should help them if they remain on the bubble, but they really need to stop the bleeding. Heading to Ann Arbor to take on a pesky Wolverine team before hosting Maryland means Iowa is going to be challenged once again this week. If Iowa continues their skid they may fall on the wrong side of the bubble and they need to at least split this weeks games.

Prediction: First Four, for now

Maryland

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
18-4 6-3 16 48 32 6-4 Penn State, at Iowa

The Terps could be interesting heading into the NCAA Tournament. They had a hot start this season and are still 18-4 but their performance has been a bit hit or miss at times and they've looked entirely beatable this Big Ten season. Taking that into consideration the Terps could fade towards the middle of the pack pretty easily when it comes to seeding, with the idea of a 8/9 seed being about as realistic as staying around the 4/5 slot. If Maryland wants to position themselves better for March they can make a strong case this week if they get to 20 wins, especially since that'll require a win at Iowa over the weekend.

Prediction: In

Michigan

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
13-9 6-4 70 19 79 5-7 Iowa, at Indiana

Michigan probably won't be a tournament team, but they're definitely a program no one wants to face. After a rough non-conference season the Wolverines have improbably been very competitive as of late, going 3-2 in their last five and having both losses (to Wisconsin and Michigan State) happen in overtime. With Iowa and Indiana on the schedule this week the Wolverines could win both games and re-enter the bubble talk, split the week and stay put in no man's land or lose both and become a longshot. The reality is they have two resume sinking losses, will likely end up with at least a dozen losses, have a below average RPI and are currently 0-6 versus the RPI top 50. Losing winnable games to Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Villanova and SMU will likely kill their tournament hopes, but this young Michigan squad will still knock off a handful of Big Ten teams as they build towards the future.

Prediction: Out

Michigan State

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
15-7 6-3 36 30 25 4-5 Illinois

Michigan State was starting to slip late in January but a blowout victory over Rutgers and avoiding the upset at home versus Michigan were huge for the Spartans. Michigan State's resume isn't ground breaking, but all things considered it's more than good enough for a tournament spot right, even if they only have one win versus the RPI top 50 and have two losses to teams outside the top 100 (Nebraska, Texas Southern). The Spartans have only one game this week, a home outing against a depleted Illinois, and need to pick up a win or else there might be a bit more pressure down the stretch.

Prediction: In

Minnesota

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
14-9 3-7 90 75 49 3-8 Purdue

The Gophers got a nice win over Nebraska but that loss earlier in the week at Penn State was a huge blow to their tournament odds. Hell, some Minnesota fans are questioning if they'll even get into the NIT at this point. The resume as a whole is pretty bare, thanks to countless close losses in games that would have dramatically improved it, and now Minnesota is on it's last legs as February arrives. Their only game this week, a home game against Purdue, is a must win if they want any chance. Even if they win they'll likely need to add a few more wins with road trips to Iowa and Indiana following.

Prediction: Out

Nebraska

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
12-9 4-5 106 91 113 4-6 Northwestern, at Penn State

Nebraska is pretty much out of the running after losing to Michigan and Minnesota on the road this past week. The Cornhuskers have apparently forgotten how to play offense, averaging 43 points last week. With nine losses, a losing record in the Big Ten, a weak SOS, a RPI out of the top 100 and only two marquee wins on the resume...Nebraska has more working against them than for them. This week's slate is pretty light with Northwestern and Penn State coming up. If Nebraska wants to keep any hope alive they'll need to pick up two wins this week.

Prediction: Out

Ohio State

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
17-5 6-3 33 73 18 5-5 at Purdue, at Rutgers

Coming off of an impressive victory over Indiana the Buckeyes followed with a blowout win over Maryland. Now Ohio State has two good wins on their resume, are rising in the Big Ten and have a pretty 17-5 record. Now that the Buckeyes have climbed firmly into the tournament, they could improve their resume even more if they can pick up a win on the road against Purdue. With a winnable Rutgers game following this weekend, as well as games against Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska closing out the month, there are plenty of winnable games for Ohio State to use to improve their seeding. In all honesty, outside of a road trip to East Lansing on Valentine's Day, the Buckeyes should be favored in every game until their home finale against the Badgers.

Prediction: In

Purdue

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
14-8 6-3 78 72 57 7-5 Ohio State, at Minnesota

Well that's one way to do it. Purdue was left dead in the water by most, especially thanks to those two pesky losses to North Florida and Gardner-Webb, but now after back-to-back home wins against ranked teams the Boilermakers are at least in the conversation. Interestingly enough, they're also in a massive tie for second place in the Big Ten between about a third of the conference. Both of the wins against Indiana and Iowa were huge and the Boilers avoided a let down game in Evanston on Saturday, picking up a difficult road victory. There's still work left to do but Purdue has a prime opportunity for a critical victory this week against Ohio State. Win that and take care of business down the stretch and Purdue could be in pretty good shape. That being said, if Purdue drops a home outing to the Buckeyes that road trip to Minnesota will more or less be a must win for Matt Painter and company.

Prediction: Out, for now

Wisconsin

Record Conference Record RPI SOS KenPom Vs. RPI Top 100 Upcoming Week
19-2 7-1 8 33 5 10-1 Indiana, Northwestern

The goal for the Badgers is to bring home a one seed and they would be in solid position if not for an unfortunate loss at Rutgers. Last week the Badgers picked up a road win against Iowa and will now stay at home this week against Indiana and Northwestern. Obviously Wisconsin is a tournament team. This week will do very little to improve their case for a one seed, but it's also another week where the Badgers need to win all of their games to stay alive for the top spot. With the Big Ten picking each other apart two wins this week could give the Badgers a demanding lead in the conference as well, but the Hoosiers will likely be gunning for the Badgers tonight.

Prediction: In

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