The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will be a formality for six Big Ten teams today; the regular-season champion Indiana Hoosiers, the Purdue Boilermakers and Michigan State Spartans, who both will be fresh off the court in Indianapolis with one being crowned the conference tournament champion, the Maryland Terrapins, Iowa Hawkeyes, and Wisconsin Badgers.
For two teams, the waiting game has already begun. One of these teams has a realistic shot of hearing its name called during the annual show, the other, not so much.
Michigan Wolverines (22-12, 10-9)
-RPI: 58 SOS: 44 Record vs. Top-50: 4-11
The story this week was that Michigan was playing for its NCAA Tournament life. A win over No. 10 Indiana in Friday's quarterfinal should solidify the Wolverines' place in the Big Dance.
Looking at the Wolverines schedule, the only loss to a non-tournament team came against the SMU Mustangs, who would be a tournament team if it wasn't for Larry Brown's touch of death known as NCAA sanctions, (you can maybe throw UConn Huskies in there as well, who will have to wait with bated breath if they cannot take down the Memphis Tigers in the AAC final today).
A knock against Michigan will be its non-conference strength of schedule, which ranks in the low 200's with most pundits. Other than the two aforementioned opponents, the Texas Longhorns and Xavier Musketeers were the only other opponents of note.
Michigan struggled in the second half of the conference season, following a 7-2 start in Big Ten play. The Wolverines went just 3-6 down the stretch before earning two much needed wins in Indianapolis. Certainly the loss of Caris LeVert could be attributed to the the Wolverines struggles and will be interesting to see if that factors in to the committee's decision.
This team appears similar to last year's Indiana squad. Many thought the Hoosiers might be on the outside, looking in after a free-fall in the final month, or at least on its way to Dayton, before being placed solidly in as a 10-seed. But the perception of the Big Ten being down this season compared to last may send Michigan to Dayton and require they win seven games to lift the trophy in April.
Ohio State Buckeyes (20-13, 11-7)
-RPI: 72 SOS: 31 Record vs. Top-50: 2-10
the Ohio State Buckeyes area long shot to hear their name called on CBS this afternoon, and will likely have to pay more attention to the NIT Selection Show. Our friends over at Land-Grant Holy Land are not optimistic that there is a National Title run in the Buckeyes' future.
But hey, you never know what the committee is thinking. Although it is hard to imagine Ohio State overcomes the terrible start to the season and lack of wins against top-ranked teams. The Buckeyes started off the year 2-4 with losses to the likes of Texas-Arlington and Louisiana Tech, before going on a roll and winning seven-straight in December and early January, including a win over the then No.4 Kentucky Wildcats.
This was expected to be a down year for Ohio State with an extremely young, but talented team, and it showed throughout the season. The Buckeyes managed to finish in the top-half of the conference, but a win against a struggling Iowa in the regular season finale was their only win against the top-6.
The more likely scenario is that Ohio State is that they will host an NIT game this week.
Seven bids would be par for the course for the Big Ten. Six are just waiting to see where they will travel and who they will face, while Michigan will be on pins and needles, and Ohio State might get together and watch the show. The Wolverines may just have to carry the momentum they gained from the conference tournament to Dayton, becoming the second Big Ten team to play in the First Four.