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Morning Power Bar: Bracketology; Conference Expansion; NIL Payments

We look at this week in college basketball.

NCAA Basketball: AAC Conference Tournament-Houston vs Cincinnati Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

This is a weekly column for BTPowerhouse that will cover a variety of Big Ten topics that might not deserve a detailed breakdown, but deserve mention. It will be similar to a news roundup with more thoughts and analysis.

So, let’s jump into our Morning Power Bar.

1. ESPN updates its bracketology.

With the season quickly approaching, Joe Lunardi spent some time updating his bracketology projections for next March. The Big Ten landed nine teams in the field and had one more closing missing. Here’s the full list:

Big Ten In 9/15 ESPN Bracketology By Seed:

  • No. 2 - Michigan
  • No. 2 - Purdue
  • No. 3 - Illinois
  • No. 4 - Ohio State
  • No. 6 - Maryland
  • No. 6 - Michigan State
  • No. 10 - Indiana
  • No. 11 - Iowa (Last Four In)
  • No. 11 - Rutgers (Last Four In)
  • Next Four Out - Wisconsin

Obviously, that’s quite a performance for the Big Ten. Having nine teams make the cut is remarkably by itself, but having four top four seeds is pretty impressive as well. We will have to wait and see how these projections hold up.

2. Spartan players will be getting stipends.

The NIL announcements seem to continue daily and Michigan State had a huge one earlier this month. United Wholesale Mortgage announced every member of the basketball team would be receiving a $500 stipend moving forward.

That should be quite a selling point for Tom Izzo and his staff. And don’t expect that to be the end of things, either. This is going to become common across college athletics.

3. Conference expansion continues.

While not as noteworthy as the Oklahoma and Texas move to the SEC, the Big 12 made some of its own news recently. The conference announced it would be adding BYU, Cincinnati, and Houston to its ranks. The move will take place in 2023, which means there will be an overlap with Oklahoma and Texas.

This probably ends this round of conference expansion for the Power Five, but it could mean big things for college basketball. Houston has become a powerhouse in recent years, including a Final Four appearance last April, and BYU and Cincinnati have been consistent as well. In the race for the best conference in college basketball, adding these three should help the Big 12 significantly.

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