Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Big 10 conference tournament preview

This is part 23 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
Indiana 15-3 (25-6)
Michigan St 13-5 (26-5)
Maryland 12-6 (24-7)
Purdue 12-6 (24-7)
Iowa 12-6 (21-9)
Wisconsin 12-6 (20-11)
Ohio St 11-7 (19-12)
Michigan 10-8 (20-11)
Northwestern 8-10 (20-11)
Penn St 7-11 (16-15)
Nebraska 6-12 (14-17)
Illinois 5-13 (13-18)
Minnesota 2-16 (8-22)
Rutgers 1-17 (7-24)

Tournament format:
Indianapolis, from Wednesday March 9 to Sunday March 13.   Scheduled end of the title game is the scheduled beginning of the selection show.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU CBS AND NCAA WHY DON'T YOU DEMAND A ONE OR TWO HOUR LAYOVER.  IT IS INSANE TO EXPECT THE COMMITTEE TO TURN OVER A BRACKET IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE FINAL GAME IS PLAYED; THIS IS HOW BAD SEEDS AND BAD BRACKETS HAPPEN OH MY GOD rant over.

The matchups:
1) Indiana vs. 8/9) Michigan/Northwestern
4) Purdue vs. 5/12/13) Iowa/Illinois/Minnesota
2) Michigan St vs. 7/10) Ohio St/Penn St
3) Maryland vs. 6/11/14) Wisconsin/Nebraska/Rutgers

The stakes:
Michigan St has everything they need for the 1 seed except for Indiana ruining everything.  Well, maybe a better non-con SoS too.  But they need a conference crown to buttress the resume, or the 1 seed will disappear.  This has the nasty effect of making the selection committee draw contingencies, because Michigan St is likely a 1 seed with the title and likely a 2 or 3 seed without.  Aargh.

Indiana has moved into a default position ahead of Maryland/Purdue on the S-Curve with their title, but their non-con SoS is marginal, probably leaving them with too much ground between them and the 1 line.  The 2 line is definitely doable though.  It's probably not quite safe to say they're definitively ahead of Maryland and Purdue; either can jump Indiana with a title here.  However, their cases for the 2 line are a bit more tenuous, even if they play the best possible opponents on the way through.  It's quite likely these three teams will end up on the 3 or 4 line apiece, with maybe a stray 5 seed.  Strong enough to avoid the flawed teams on the 6-7 lines, not strong enough for the 2 line.  And the order of these teams are very variable, still.

Iowa's kinda fallen a half-step behind those three.  I wouldn't discount their chances of getting back into the middle of the Maryland/Purdue/Indiana battle, but I no longer think they can come out on top of all 3 of them.  Iowa/Purdue is going to go a long ways towards solving things, and Indiana playing the winner could make things very solvent.  Maryland being trapped on the other side of the draw complicates things.

Wisconsin is in the lockbox, but they're another half-step behind Iowa with those ugly losses.  I can maybe buy a 4 seed, but, man, with those losses I just can't go higher, even if they go on a Maryland/MSU/Indiana run.

Michigan's your one bubble team, and they wound up in a tough but great spot.  Once they beat Northwestern, it's probably a win-and-in game with Indiana.  In a perfect world, they'd have a more beatable opponent like Wisky that can help the resume, but them's the breaks.  Beat Indiana and you're probably in, lose and you're probably out.

Ohio St needs multiple big wins to have a chance, and, well, at least Michigan St and Maryland line up for them.  Get those two and we'll have a discussion.

I think Ohio St is the only NIT team from here.  Northwestern is next up but the resume is too thin.  Penn St out as well.  Perhaps one or more consider Vegas or the CBI.

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