Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Updated Big Ten Tournament Seeding Predictions

Well, the Hoosiers aren't going to do things the easy way, are they?  Their loss to Minnesota last night makes the Big Ten race more interesting, but IU still controls its own destiny.  You gotta hand it to Tom Crean, though.  This is all part of an ingenious plan to make the Big Ten look better and get more Big Ten teams into the NCAA tournament.  Think about it.  When IU lost to Wisconsin on January 15, Wisconsin was unranked.  Since then, the Badgers have continued their winning ways and catapulted to a #17 ranking.  When IU lost to Illinois on February 7, Illinois was reeling, having lost 7 of its first 9 Big Ten games and fallen from a #10 ranking to well out of the Top 25.  Including the win over IU, Illinois has won 6 of 7 and has played its way back into the NCAA tournament.  As for last night, Minnesota had once been ranked in the Top 10, but was sitting at a 6-8 conference record and on the bubble for the NCAA tournament.  The win puts them at 7-8 in the conference, with three winnable games remaining.  With a quality win like this, the Golden Gophers should propel themselves from the bubble into a tournament lock.  Tom Crean, you magnificent bastard.  Now don't let it happen again.

Thankfully, James Naismith, Branch McCracken, Phog Allen, Hank Iba, and Hank Gathers –- the basketball gods -– made things right by giving Penn State, a team that had lost 14 in a row, the strength to defeat Michigan, thus immensely helping IU's chances of an outright Big Ten title.

Here are the current standings, with the conference record, each team's remaining games, and my predictions:

1.  Indiana (12-3):  Iowa (W), OSU (W), at Michigan (L)
2 (tie).  Michigan State (11-4):  at Michigan (L), Wisconsin (W), NW (W)
2 (tie).  Wisconsin (11-4):  Purdue (W), at MSU (L), at PSU (W)
4 (tie).  Michigan (10-5):   MSU (W), at Purdue (W), IU (W)
4 (tie).  Ohio State (10-5):  at NW (W), at IU (L), Illinois (W)
6 (tie).  Illinois (7-8):  Nebraska (W), at Iowa (W), at OSU (L)
6 (tie).  Minnesota (7-8):  PSU (W), at Nebraska (W), at Purdue (W)
7 (tie).  Iowa (6-8):  Purdue (W), at IU (L), Illinois (L), Nebraska (W)
7 (tie).  Purdue (6-8):  at Iowa (L), at Wisconsin (L), Michigan (L), Minnesota (L)
10 (tie).  Northwestern (4-11):  OSU (L), PSU (W), at MSU (L)
10 (tie).  Nebraska (4-11):  at Illinois (L), Minnesota (L), at Iowa (L)
12.  Penn State (1-14):  at Minnesota (L), at NW (L), Wisconsin (L)

Given my predictions and Big Ten tiebreaking rules, here is how the Big Ten Tournament seeds should fall into place and how the Big Ten Tournament will play out (all times are Central):

1.  Indiana (14-4) (would have tiebreaker based on better record vs. MSU than Michigan)
2.  Michigan State (13-5) (would have tiebreaker based on 3-1 combined record vs. Wisconsin and Michigan)
3.  Wisconsin (13-5) (would have tiebreaker over Michigan, even though both teams would be 1-2 vs. other two teams because Wisconsin has better record vs. Indiana)
4.  Michigan (13-5)
5.  Ohio State (12-6)
6.  Minnesota (10-8)
7.  Illinois (9-9)
8.  Iowa (8-10)
9.  Purdue (6-12)
10.  Northwestern (5-13)
11.  Nebraska (4-14)
12.  Penn State (1-17)

Thursday, March 14, 2013
(8) Iowa vs. (9) Purdue (11 a.m., BTN).  Projected winner:  Iowa
(5) Ohio State vs. (12) Penn State (1:30 p.m., BTN).  Projected winner:  Ohio State
(7) Illinois vs. (10) Northwestern (5:30 p.m., ESPN2).  Projected winner:  Illinois
(6) Minnesota vs. (11) Nebraska (8 p.m., ESPN2).  Projected winner:  Minnesota

Friday, March 15, 2013
(1) IU vs. (8) Iowa (11 a.m., ESPN).  Projected winner:  IU
(4) Michigan vs. (5) Ohio State (1:30 p.m., ESPN).  Projected winner:  Michigan
(2) Michigan State vs. (7) Illinois (5:30 p.m., BTN).  Projected winner:  Michigan State
(3) Wisconsin vs. (6) Minnesota (8 p.m., BTN).  Projected winner:  Wisconsin

Saturday, March 16, 2013
(1) IU vs. (4) Michigan (12:40 p.m., CBS).  Projected winner:  IU
(2) Michigan State vs. (3) Wisconsin (3 p.m., CBS).  Projected winner:  Michigan State

Sunday, March 17, 2013
(1) IU vs. (2) Michigan State (2:30 p.m., CBS).  Projected winner:  IU

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