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Sunday, February 11, 2007

2/11/07 - Big 10 Bubble Watch

We all know that Wisconsin, Ohio State and Indiana are "locks" for the NCAA Tournament. But after those three, things get a bit more interesting. I can't imagine the Big 10 not getting at least 4 bids into the Big Dance and depending on how teams play down the stretch probably 5. Here's the Chronicle's look at the teams who still need to impress the Committee.

The Illini are sitting at .500 with 4 games left to play, all very winnable. Two home games against Northwestern and Michigan before hitting the road for their last 2 regular season games at Penn State and then at Iowa. 10-6 should be enough to get Illinois off the bubble and into the dance, but with one of the weakest conference schedules (only played OSU and Wisconsin each once) anything less than 10-6 and the Illini might have to play their way in at the Big 10 Tournament.

Another team that is at .500 and sitting on the bubble. Michigan is looking at probably the toughest remaining schedule of the Big 10 bubbles. 6 games remain for the Wolverines (@ MSU, Indiana, @ Illinois, @ Minny, MSU, and Ohio St.) IF, and this is a BIG if, Michigan can go 4-2 in this stretch you would have to extend them an invite. Unfortunately for Big Blue fans, I think 2-4 is probably more likely and another trip to the NIT.

The Hawkeyes are still sitting in 4th place in the conference after a tough loss at Wisconsin. 5 games remain for Iowa (N'western, @ MSU, Purdue, @ Penn St, Illinois) and if they continue to improve all look to be winnable. However, with horrendous non-conference losses (@ Arizona State, @ Drake, and Northern Iowa at home) the Hawkeyes are going to have to get to 10-6 in conference to even be considered. I think that is a possibility if they hold home court against Purdue and Illinois, and don't suffer a hiccup at Penn State. Of course a deep run in the Big 10 Tournament again wouldn't hurt, but in the end I think Iowa will too be heading to the NIT.

Oh, what could of been. With 5 minutes to play at Ohio State on Saturday, Purdue's NCAA chances were looking better than ever. Then the Buckeyes turned it on and the Boiler's were left in the dust and back on the bubble. 5-6 in conference with 5 games remaining (Indiana, @ Iowa, N'western-twice, and Minnesota). Obviously Purdue needs to take both from Northwestern and beat Minnesota at home. And if they can find a way to knock off Indiana or get a win at Iowa I think 9-7 will be enough to get an invite to the Dance. Nobody would have thought it going into this season, but how big would the win over Butler in non-conference look now?

Michigan State
MSU's collapse has to be considered the biggest surprise of the Big 10 season so far. After dropping 4 straight contests, the Spartans now have 4 straight at home to try and turn it around (Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana). If Izzo can use the home magic and put an impressive number wins together, Michigan State could get back into the NCAA picture. But this is not your daddy's Michigan State, and the Spartans have yet to beat anybody in the top 25 of anybody's power rankings. If you would have told me in January that Michigan State would be playing in the NIT at year's end, I probably would have said you were crazy. Now, I'd tell you that you're right.

Comments on "2/11/07 - Big 10 Bubble Watch"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 11, 2007 at 6:36 PM) : 

The Hawks will win out baby! We'll be DANCIN' !!!


Blogger Brad said ... (February 12, 2007 at 11:19 AM) : 

Winning out is certainly a possibility. Iowa is playing very well offensive ball right now. However, their interior defense and defensive rebounding has been their achilles heel all year long. If they had anybody that would have boxed out in the 2nd half on Saturday we'd be talking about an NCAA Tournament team today.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 12, 2007 at 12:49 PM) : 

Yeah... its a little disappointing that Iowa could not come up with any real "good" wins this year. The 5 games they have left are all winnable.. but also are not against any "great" teams. Can they get in with their biggest wins being over MSU?


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