On Thursday morning, ESPN updated its bracketology for the 2016-’17 college basketball season and nine Big Ten teams were fortunate enough to make the cut. Although the conference doesn’t appear to be as loaded at the top as it has been in recent years, it still showed up strongly in this projected NCAA field.
While Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin were the only teams to make the cut, Nebraska and Ohio State also just missed the field. Perhaps the most interesting absence was Iowa, who made last year’s NCAA Tournament, but has seen an up and down season so far.
Here is how the Big Ten was projected.
Big Ten In 1/5 ESPN Bracketology By Seed:
- #5 - Wisconsin
- #6 - Purdue
- #7 - Minnesota
- #9 - Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State
- #10 - Maryland
- #11 - Illinois (First Four), Northwestern
- Next Four Out - Nebraska, Ohio State
The Big Ten ranked second among conferences (behind the ACC) with nine teams in ESPN’s latest bracketology. However, it was a rather underwhelming performance as the conference failed to land any teams among the bracket’s top 16.
Obviously, there’s no telling how accurately this projection holds up on Selection Sunday (it’s a good guess it won’t be that accurate), but lacking a four seed or higher would be a devastating blow for the conference. In such a sccenario, the Big Ten would seriously have to worry about getting past the first weekend, even with nine teams in the field.
Apart from the conference’s general seeding scenarios, the three most significant moves on this week’s update came from Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska. The Hoosiers took the biggest drop and Minnesota and Nebraska are both on the rise. In particular, Nebraska is just a win or two away from making it into the field.
Iowa and Ohio State fans also have to be pretty concerned with this projection as the Hawkeyes weren’t within the first eight teams to miss the field and Ohio State looks like it’s trending in the wrong direction. Without a strong finish to January, both could be on the outside looking in when Selection Sunday arrives.
You can see the full field here.