Welcome back to March Madness Bracket Watch. The final two weeks of Big Ten play have proven that although it has been a down year statistically in the league, upsets and exciting moments are still ahead.
After our last bracket watch expanded the bubble a little bit, this week, we’re back to our normal bubble. Potential teams that are not in NCAA Tournament contention, but could be in NIT contention, are noted.
As always, each team is not only ranked by section, but within the section as well. Teams likely to move up are higher up, teams likely trending downward are moving the other way.
Dancing in March
The Spartans overcame the largest halftime deficit in program history, 27 points, to beat Northwestern at home. They also beat Purdue in East Lansing, and have two relatively easy games to finish off the season when the host Illinois and travel to Wisconsin. The depth this team has is one of the deepest in the Big Ten and will only help them as they head in to March.
The Boilermakers lost to both Ohio State and Michigan State during their toughest test of games in the season. This team may not win the Big Ten, but they’re in shape for a solid seed in March. The question now surrounds the injury of Vince Edwards. If the Boilermakers have him healthy, they’ll be at their best come March.
Ohio State beat Purdue, but got swept by Penn State and lost at Michigan. While Chris Holtmann’s team has been one of the best in the Big Ten this season, at times, their lack of depth and size create match up problems for them. Ohio State will dance and they’ll be one of the Cinderella’s in this years Tournament upon their arrival.
What a day for the Wolverines on Sunday at home. They had senior day, honored Austin Hatch, and walked away with quite a win against Ohio State. Michigan’s dominance in February has continued over from last year and they’ve put themselves in a great position to have success in March.
On The Bubble
Penn State has had an odd season so far. They lost bad games early on, but their sweep of Ohio State is what is keeping them here. Penn State still has a considerable amount of work to do before they can hear their name called on Selection Sunday, but they have inched closer. With the Purdue loss on Sunday, they’ll need to win out against Michigan and Nebraska to keep the momentum going. They’ll also need to win at least one game in the Big Ten Tournament, depending on who they match up against.
Yes, the Cornhuskers are here. Yes, they have an uphill battle ahead. The Cornhuskers were on a roll until they lost to Illinois on Sunday. Prior to the Illinois loss, they had an uphill battle ahead. The Illinois loss sets them back, with work to do. They need to win out against Indiana and Penn State to finish the season. They’ll also need to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament to make enough noise.
Better Luck Next Year
Injuries have made it a tough year for the Terrapins. With a weak Big Ten and a record below .500 in league play, it looks like a season that will end before March Madness begins.
Indiana has gotten significantly better in the last month, and they’re showing promising signs for the future. Archie Miller may not dance this year, but he could take his team to the NIT.
An incredibly heartbreaking season for Northwestern got tougher last week after losing to Rutgers and Michigan State. Bryant McIntosh is injured again and we hope we’ll get to see one of the best guards in the Big Ten put on purple and white one last time.
Reggie Lynch is gone, Amir Coffey is undergoing season-ending surgery, and Minnesota won’t make it to back-to-back tournaments. Hopefully with some rest and restructuring in the off-season, Minnesota can surge again next season.
Wisconsin has had a tough season in many regards, but their win against Purdue on Frank Kaminsky night was incredible to watch. Ethan Happ is still dominating despite the injuries and youth on this team. He has another left, and that should help the Badgers improve next year.
Rutgers beat Northwestern this week. They’re still far away from an NCAA Tournament, but the right coach to lead them there is a the top.
Illinois put a stop to Nebraska’s tournament hopes at home on Sunday. Leron Black may be the best player on thsi roster and he’s going to help this team be better next year.
Iowa’s youth forced them to take a step back this year, and it looks like the Hawkeyes may not see the season finish over .500.