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Bracketology: Ten Bids for the Big Ten

Hell yes

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I’m the stats guy around here, so when T-Rank tells me that the most likely outcome for the Big Ten is nine bids, I tend to believe it.

But I’m also a giant homer, so when Bracket Matrix, an aggregation of pretty much the entire universe of college basketball bracketologists, tells me that the consensus is that the Big Ten gets ten teams in, I’ll tend to believe that even more.

We’re getting ten bids. Let’s take a deeper look at each one.

Michigan: One Seed

Michigan has played like the best team in the country. Jordan Poole has been phenomenal. John Beilein is an offensive wizard who has learned how to coach defense in the past few seasons. Michigan in undefeated and hasn’t lost a non-Final Four game since February 6 of last year. Every bracket that updated Monday (after the Wolverine’s dominating win over the Indiana Hoosiers) has Michigan as a one seed. Except one. As of Monday, TeamRankings only has Michigan as a three seed. They have Michigan State in over the Wolverines as their final one seed—no argument from me there—but they also have Kansas, Auburn, and North Carolina down as two seeds ahead of Beilein’s squad. TeamRankings is on drugs.

Michigan State: Two Seed

About a third of bracketologists have the Spartans as a one seed, with almost everyone else placing Tom Izzo’s squad as a two. Oak Creek has them as a three seed. KenPom says that Sparty is slightly better than Michigan, so it’s possible we’ll see the green and white rise up to a one seed before all is said and done.

Ohio State: Five Seed

It’s a big drop-off to the next Big Ten team. The Buckeyes are a five seed, though some people have them as high as a three or as low as an eight. I’m not sure I’m comfortable saying the Buckeyes are the third best team in the conference right now, but I wouldn’t be comfortable saying Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue, Maryland, or Nebraska is the third-best team, either. Those schools are all going to beat each other up in conference play. Whether that boosts strength of schedule enough for all those teams to rise up, I don’t know. It’s be nice to get four conference schools among the sixteen top four seeds.

Indiana: Five Seed

Indiana is one of those teams I haven’t figured out yet. Their best win is over Butler, who in the past two weeks both obliterated Creighton and got obliterated by Florida. The Hoosiers have struggled on the road, but of the other teams in the middle of the pack, only Ohio State has really impressive road wins. We already saw that bracketologists Oak Creek and TeamRankings disagree about the Michigan schools. They disagree about the Hoosiers, too. Oak Creek has them as a four, whereas TeamRankings has them as a ten.

Wisconsin: Six Seed

The Badgers are right below Indiana in average seed, but their variance is much lower. There’s about an equal mix of five, six, and seven seeds for Greg Gard’s team, with a four and an eight thrown in for good measure. Wisconsin’s win over Xavier is deteriorating as the Musketeers struggle, but it’s more than made up for with their win over North Carolina State, who have won seven in a row going into Tuesday’s game against UNC.

Nebraska: Six Seed

Nebraska is all over the board, too, coming in as high as a four and as low as an eleven. The Huskers have a good road win at Clemson, but the missed three opportunities for more road wins against Minnesota, Maryland, and Iowa. It’s tough to win road games in this league.

Purdue: Eight Seed

Based on the analytics, Purdue is a top four or five seed. Based on the wins and losses on their resume, this is where the Boilers belong. Close losses against good teams like Florida State and Virginia Tech impress the computers, but not the voters. This is the first Big Ten team to have been left off someone’s bracket entirely. My guess is that with the league as good as it is, holding serve at Mackey Arena will be enough for Purdue to get a seven or an eight.

Maryland: Nine Seed

Now we’re getting into bubble territory. Maryland played an awful non-conference schedule, and it could come back to cost them. Turgeon may be coaching for his job this season. KenPom projects the Terps to go 11-9 in the league, which may be just enough. But Maryland fans will tell you that in close games, don’t bet on the Turgeon General.

Minnesota: Nine Seed

Just when I was doubting the Gophers, they go and get a nice win in Madison. The Gophers are another team that may be hurt by playing a bad non-conference schedule, and the cost the Big Ten the Challenge with the ACC by losing by 12 to a thoroughly mediocre Boston College team. The Gophers are really good at getting to the line and rebounding, which is a product of having Jordan Murphy on the team.

Iowa: Ten Seed

Unlike the other bubble teams, the Hawkeyes did a lot to help themselves in the non-conference. The win against Oregon doesn’t look as impressive as it did at the time, but the W against instate rival Iowa State looks like it’s going to pay big dividends. The Hawkeyes have the worst defense in the Big Ten—yes, including Illinois and Rutgers—so they’ll need to outscore their opponents to continue building their resume.

Others Receiving Votes: None

Not a single bracketologist had Penn State or Northwestern in the field of 68. So there’s no chance the Big Ten will tie the all-time record of 11. On a percentage basis, though, 10/14 is better than 11/16, so there’s still a chance to make history. BIG DAMN TEN!