The Committee released the official bracket for the 2018 NCAA Tournament on Sunday night and four Big Ten teams had their names called. Those teams were Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Purdue. All four were a five seed or higher.
But what fans take away from those selections? Should fans feel confident in their team’s ability to make a run or be worried? Let’s dive into each team.
Big Ten In 2018 NCAA Tournament
- Record: 28-7 (13-5)
- Region: West Region
- Seeding: Three Seed
After putting together a 24-7 regular season and winning the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan found itself slotted in as a three seed in the West Region. Michigan will open up with a game against Montana in the first round in Wichita, Kansas.
As a three seed, Michigan projects to have a pretty manageable first round matchup. The Grizzlies had a solid season, but finished at 71st on KenPom. While it is March, the odds certainly favor Michigan moving past the first round.
Unfortunately, things get far more difficult after that. Houston will likely await the Wolverines in the Round of 32 and a potential rematch against North Carolina awaits in the Sweet 16. The Cougars are 17th on KenPom and the Tar Heels are seventh. Gonzaga and Xavier look like the favorites to make it to the Elite Eight on the other side of the region.
This looks like a bit of a double-edged sword for the Wolverines. Xavier is clearly the weakest one seed, but Michigan will have its work cut out to even have a shot at facing the Musketeers. Don’t be surprised if Michigan doesn’t make it out of the first weekend.
- Record: 29-4 (16-2)
- Region: Midwest Region
- Seeding: Three Seed
After winning the Big Ten regular season title, Michigan State finds itself slotted as the three seed in the Midwest Region and with a first round matchup against Bucknell. Thanks to the team’s regular season success, Michigan State will get to open up play in Detroit in what should have a home-like atmosphere.
Generally speaking, Michigan State fans should be pretty satisfied with the team’s positioning for the first weekend. The Spartans will open up against Bucknell with TCU likely awaiting afterward. Michigan State would be favored in both games and when you add in that the games are in Detroit, it’s hard to see the Spartans going down in either.
But that’s when things start to get difficult. Should Michigan State move to the second weekend, it would likely be staring down a matchup against Duke in the Sweet 16 and Kansas in the Elite Eight. Both opponents are in the top 10 on KenPom and would be extremely tough outs for the Spartans.
Michigan State looks poised for a pretty easy path to the Sweet 16. However, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Spartans to go further than that. An upset or upsets of Duke and/or Kansas would certainly help things.
- Record: 24-8 (15-3)
- Region: West Region
- Seeding: Five Seed
After a season filled with overachievement, Ohio State finds itself as the five seed in the West Region. It’s the program first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015 and the Buckeyes will hope to make the second weekend for the first time in five years.
Ohio State will open up against South Dakota State on Thursday in Boise, Idaho with a potential matchup against Gonzaga waiting thereafter. Should the Buckeyes beat those opponents, the team would then likely see Xavier in the Sweet 16 and then a team like Michigan or North Carolina in the Elite Eight.
There’s little debating that Ohio State has the toughest path or any Big Ten team to advance past the first weekend. That’s not surprising considering that the Buckeyes are the lowest seeded team in the league, but it’s still important to note.
To start, Ohio State will have to avoid the dangerous five vs 12 game and then could get Gonzaga in Boise, Idaho. The Bulldogs are the higher seed and are in the top 10 on KenPom. And things would only get tougher after that. Reasonable expectations for Ohio State would be to advance to the second round this year.
- Record: 28-6 (15-1)
- Region: East Region
- Seeding: Two Seed
Purdue fans might have been disappointed with how the team finished the season, but the Boilermakers ended up as the Big Ten’s top seeded team and the two seed in the East Region. The team will open up with Cal State Fullerton in Detroit, Michigan.
Making it deep into the NCAA Tournament is never easy, but Purdue’s route to the Elite Eight doesn’t look overwhelming. The Boilermakers will be substantial favorites in the team’s first two games and the three seed, Texas Tech, lost five or seven heading into the NCAA Tournament. As such, one has to feel pretty good about Purdue’s odds of making a run.
However, the elephant in the room also needs to be mentioned. The one seed in Purdue’s region is Villanova and the Wildcats are not going to go down without a fight. Villanova could very well be the best team in the entire field and have a pretty manageable path to the Elite Eight. If Purdue wants to make the Final Four, it’s probably going to have to go through the monster that is Villanova.
There’s a lot to like about this year’s Purdue team and what the Boilermakers could do in the coming weeks. The ultimate question will be whether Purdue can finally slay one of the bluebloods in an NCAA Tournament.