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Thursday, February 22, 2007

2/22/07 - Tournament Resumes

With March exactly one week away and the hint of Madness in the air, let's take a look again at the Big 10's "bubble" teams. The only question for the Big 10's top 2 (Ohio State and Wisconsin) is who will be awarded with a 1-seed. That question will be answered on Sunday when the two teams meet in Columbus with the winner probably getting a 1-seed and the loser being slotted as a 2-seed for the NCAA Tournament. Now let's take a look at the rest of the Big 10 field and each teams' Tournament Resume. (Note: RPI and SOS numbers taken from kenpom.com)

Indiana Hoosiers 18-8 (8-5, 3rd)
RPI: 22 SOS: 26
Quality Wins: Southern Illinois (RPI: 5), Wisconsin (RPI: 6)
Bad Losses: at Iowa (RPI: 78)
Remaining Opponents: at Michigan State, at Northwestern, Penn State
One more tough road test remains, but even with a loss at Michigan State this weekend, the Hoosiers have done enough to get into the Tournament. They should finish with nothing worse than a tie for 3rd in the Big Ten and have a very good non-conference win against SIU to hang their hat on. Unless Indiana slips up against Northwestern or Penn State, they should feel solid and be a 6 or 7 seed on Selection Sunday.

Illinois Fighting Illini 20-9 (8-6, T-4th)
RPI: 32 SOS: 19
Quality Wins: Indiana (22), Michigan State (25)
Bad Losses: at Michigan (61), at Xavier (43)
Remaining Opponents: at Penn State, at Iowa
The Illini need to win both of their remaining games to get themselves off the bubble and really feel solid. If Illinois can get to 10-6, they will be no worse than 4th place in conference and that should be enough to get them in, probably as a 10 or 11 seed. But 2 wins isn't going to be a walk in the park, just ask Purdue who lost by 19 at Iowa last night. If I had to make a prediction, I see Illinois losing at least one of these last two games on the road and heading to the NIT.

Iowa Hawkeyes 16-12 (8-6, T-4th)
RPI: 78 SOS: 48
Quality Wins: Indiana (22), Michigan State (25)
Bad Losses: at Arizona State (226), at Drake (119), UNI (76)
Remaining Opponents: at Penn State, Illinois
Iowa's very low RPI numbers and early bad losses have been keeping this team from being included in a lot of Bubble Talk. However, the Hawkeyes just keep winning and it seems implausible to me to keep a 4th place team this late in the season out of all Tournament discussions. If Iowa can win out and get to 10-6 in conference, they would lock up no worse than 4th place and possibly a tie for 3rd with Indiana. I don't see how the Selection Committee could take a Purdue or Illinois team over this Iowa team if the Hawkeyes have wins over both in the last 2 weeks of the season. Those wins have to weigh more than a couple of really bad losses in November and December. It should be very interesting to see what will happen to the Hawkeyes if they do win out.

Michigan State Spartans 20-8 (7-6, 6th)
RPI: 25 SOS: 21
Quality Wins: Wisconsin (6), Illinois (32), N-Texas (38)
Bad Losses: at Iowa (78)
Remaining Opponents: Indiana, at Michigan, at Wisconsin
After that huge win on Tuesday at home against Wisconsin, Michigan State has gotten themselves back into the Dance. The remaining schedule will not be easy, but if the Spartans can take two of their remaining three games and finish with a 9-7 they should see themselves with a 9 or 10 seed.

Purdue Boilermakers 17-10 (6-7, T-7th)
RPI: 47 SOS: 20
Quality Wins: Indiana (22), Michigan State (25), Virginia (46)
Bad Losses: at Minnesota (165), at Indiana State (140)
Remaining Opponents: at Northwestern, Minnesota, Northwestern
Purdue blew a big chance to solidify their tournament prospects last night by taking a 19-point licking at Iowa. The Boilers have the easiest remaining schedule in the Big Ten and they need to win all three to even be considered at this point. With a couple of losses to 100+ RPI teams, anything less than a 9-7 record in conference will not be enough. I think Purdue needs to run the table and add a win or two in the Big Ten Tournament to get into the Big Dance.

Michigan Wolverines 18-10 (6-7, T-7th)
RPI: 61 SOS: 45
Quality Wins: Indiana (22)
Bad Losses: at NC State (118), Iowa (78)
Remaining Opponents: at Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State
Michigan is looking at the same scenario as Purdue, only with a much tougher remaining schedule. The Wolverines have a couple of opportunities to get quality wins at the end of the season when they mean the most, but I wouldn't get your hopes up if you're a Big Blue fan. Michigan looks destined to another trip to the NIT.

Here is how I see everything shaking down.
NCAA Locks: Ohio State, Wisconsin
Should be in: Indiana, Michigan State
Win out and they're in: Illinois OR Iowa
To the NIT we go: Purdue, Michigan, Illinois/Iowa (If they drop one)

Comments on "2/22/07 - Tournament Resumes"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 22, 2007 at 7:49 PM) : 

I tend to agree in that whoever wins out between ILL and Iowa has a legit chance at being that 5th team in the dance... and I think they'd deserve to get a bid.


Blogger Brad said ... (February 23, 2007 at 8:45 AM) : 

If Illinois wins out, I think they are in. It will be interesting to see how the commitee handles Iowa. Sure they have some very bad losses, but if they are 10-6 in the Big Ten they will have just as good of conference record as everybody not OSU or Wisconsin. How much will bad losses in November hurt a teams chances?


Blogger paulzy said ... (February 25, 2007 at 12:16 PM) : 

I don't think Iowa gets in no matter what, but I do know that if they get in, they are very dangerous. I've seen Adam Haluska single-handedly dismantle very good basketball teams without breaking a sweat. Iowa's problem is that they played a tough NC schedule and didn't get many good wins out of it. Nevertheless, I think they are more dangerous than Illinois.


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