Monday, February 13, 2017

Big Ten Tournament Seeding Predictions and NCAA Tournament Resumes

Now that football is over and we are less than a month from the Big Ten Tournament, it appears to be time for my annual attempt at predicting the Big Ten Tournament seeds, based on every team's remaining schedule, and each Big Ten team's chances of making the NCAA Tournament.

My beloved Hoosiers have fallen quite precipitously since the beginning of the year.  At one time, they were ranked #3 and looked poised to defend their outright Big Ten crown.  Now, they are looking like they won't even make the NCAA Tournament.  Injuries to Collin Hartman (for the season), OG Anunoby (for the season, after January 18), and James Blackmon (for a couple games) haven't helped, but that's no excuse for losing five out of six games (and it's not like they were lighting it up before OG went down).  It hurts to be an IU fan right now.

Before we get to this year's predictions, let's take a look at how my initial Big Ten Tournament seeding predictions last year compared to how things actually shook out.  For each seed, my initial prediction is the first team listed, with the predicted record in parentheses, and the second team is the team that actually ended up with that seed, with their actual record in parentheses.

1.  Iowa (15-3); Indiana (15-3)
2.  Indiana (14-4); Michigan State (13-5)
3.  Maryland (14-4); Maryland (12-6)
4.  Michigan State (13-5); Purdue (12-6)
5.  Purdue (12-6); Iowa (12-6)
6.  Michigan (11-7); Wisconsin (12-6)
7.  Wisconsin (10-8); Ohio State (11-7)
8.  Ohio State (10-8); Michigan (10-8)
9.  Northwestern (7-11); Northwestern (8-10)
10.  Nebraska (7-11); Penn State (7-11)
11.  Illinois (5-13); Nebraska (6-12)
12.  Penn State (4-14); Illinois (5-13)
13.  Rutgers (2-16); Minnesota (2-16)
14.  Minnesota (1-17); Rutgers (1-17)

Wow.  2 out of 14.  I didn't think I could do worse than the 3 out of 14 I correctly predicted two years ago.  With how unpredictable the Big Ten (and college basketball in general) has been this year, I'm not holding out any hope for my predictions improving in their accuracy this year. 

The whole Big Ten has been up and down so far this season.  Right now, Maryland, Northwestern, and Wisconsin have been the pleasant surprises of the Big Ten, and the Wildcats look poised to make their first ever NCAA Tournament.  Purdue has played up to expectations, while Indiana, Michigan State, and Iowa have disappointed.  Granted, IU and MSU have both had to deal with some significant injuries to impact players, but that is no excuse for a 15-11 and 15-10 record, respectively.  Other than Rutgers, the rest of the league has been okay, if not entirely inconsistent.  However, I'd say that the "bottom" of the league is much better this year than it has been the past few years.  No one is safe.

Next games
The next games take place tomorrow night (all times Eastern):
-Rutgers at Purdue (7:00 p.m.; BTN)
-Ohio State at Michigan State (9:00 p.m.; ESPN)
-Penn State at Nebraska (9:00 p.m.; BTN)

Current Standings
Here are the current standings, with the conference record, each team's remaining Big Ten games, and my predictions.  I will try to update these after every day or every couple days of games.

1.  Wisconsin (10-2):  at Michigan (W); Maryland (W); at Ohio State (W); at Michigan State (W); Iowa (W); Minnesota (W)
2 (tie).  Maryland (9-3):  at Northwestern (W); at Wisconsin (L); Minnesota (W); Iowa (W); at Rutgers (W); Michigan State (W)
2 (tie).  Purdue (9-3):  Rutgers (W); Michigan State (W); at Penn State (W); at Michigan (W); Indiana (W); at Northwestern (L)
4.  Northwestern (8-4):  Maryland (L); Rutgers (W); at Illinois (W); at Indiana (L); Michigan (W); Purdue (W)
5.  Michigan State (7-5):  Ohio State (W); at Purdue (L); Nebraska (W); Wisconsin (L); at Illinois (W); at Maryland (L)
6 (tie).  Minnesota (6-6):  Indiana (W); Michigan (W); at Maryland (L); Penn State (W); Nebraska (W); at Wisconsin (L)
6 (tie).  Michigan (6-6):  Wisconsin (L); at Minnesota (L); at Rutgers (W); Purdue (L); at Northwestern (L); at Nebraska (L)
8 (tie).  Iowa (6-7):  Illinois (W); Indiana (L); at Maryland (L); at Wisconsin (L); Penn State (W)
8 (tie).  Penn State (6-7):  at Nebraska (L); Purdue (L); at Minnesota (L); Ohio State (W); at Iowa (L)
10 (tie).  Indiana (5-8):  at Minnesota (L); at Iowa (W); Northwestern (W); at Purdue (L); at Ohio State (W)
10 (tie).  Ohio State (5-8):  at Michigan State (L); Nebraska (W); Wisconsin (L); at Penn State (L); Indiana (L)
12.  Nebraska (4-8):  Penn State (W); at Ohio State (L); at Michigan State (L); Illinois (W); at Minnesota (L); Michigan (W)
13.  Illinois (4-9):  at Iowa (L); Northwestern (L); at Nebraska (L); Michigan State (L); at Rutgers (L)
14.  Rutgers (2-11):  at Purdue (L); at Northwestern (L); Michigan (L); Maryland (L); Illinois (W)

Projected Big Ten Tournament Seeding
Given my predictions and Big Ten tiebreaking rules, here is how the Big Ten Tournament seeds should fall into place (bold means a team has clinched that seed):

1.  Wisconsin (16-2)
2.  Purdue (14-4) (has tiebreaker over Maryland based on 1-0 head-to-head record)
3.  Maryland (14-4)  
4.  Northwestern (12-6)
5.  Michigan State (10-8) (has tiebreaker over Minnesota based on 2-0 head-to-head record)
6.  Minnesota (10-8)
7.  Indiana (8-10) (would have tiebreaker over Iowa based on 1-0 head-to-head record)
8.  Iowa (8-10)
9.  Nebraska (7-11) (Michigan and Nebraska both would have 2-1 records against the other two teams, while PSU would have an 0-2 record.  Nebraska would have the tiebreaker over Michigan based on better record vs. Purdue)
10.  Michigan (7-11)
11.  Penn State (7-11)
12.  Ohio State (6-12)
13.  Illinois (4-14)
14.  Rutgers (3-15)

Big Ten Tournament Schedule
In the past, I have also included far-too-premature predictions for every game of the Big Ten Tournament, but, like the last couple years, I'm not even going to try to do that this year until the seeds are more finalized.  However, here are the dates/times/TV schedule for the Big Ten Tournament (and a link to the bracket), which will be in Washington, DC.  All times are Eastern.

Wednesday March 8 – First Round
(12) vs. (13) (4:30 p.m. ESPN2)
(11) vs. (14) (7 p.m. BTN)

Thursday March 9 – Second Round
(8) vs. (9) (Noon, BTN)
(5) vs. (12)/(13) (2:30 p.m., BTN)
(7) vs. (10) (6:30 p.m., ESPN2)
(6) vs. (11)/(14) (9 p.m., ESPN2)

Friday March 10 – Quarterfinals
(1) vs. (8)/(9) (Noon, ESPN)
(4) vs. (5)/(12)/(13) (2:30 p.m., ESPN)
(2) vs. (7)/(10) (6:30 p.m., BTN)
(3) vs. (6)/(11)/(14) (9 p.m., BTN)

Saturday March 11 – Semifinals
(1)/(8)/(9) vs. (4)/(5)/(12)/(13) (1 p.m., CBS)
(2)/(7)/(10) vs. (3)/(6)/(11)/(14) (3:30 p.m., CBS)

Sunday March 12 – Finals
(1)/(4)/(5)/(8)/(9)/(12)/(13) vs. (2)/(3)/(6)/(7)/(10)/(11)/(14) (3 p.m., CBS)

NCAA Tournament Resumes for All 14 Big Ten Teams
Here is each Big Ten team's NCAA Tournament resume, including each team's RPI (based on ESPN's daily RPI), BPI (based on ESPN's BPI rankings), overall record against D-1 opponents, "good" wins (wins against RPI Top 50 teams or, if none, the team's best win), "bad" losses (losses against teams with an RPI of 101+ or, if none, the team's worst loss).  An * means the game was played on a neutral court, and for the "good" wins and "bad" losses, the team's current RPI is identified.  I have categorized the teams by "In," "Bubble," or "Out," which is my best guess, based on what I know right now, as to whether each team is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, is on the bubble, or is out.  I have also added a record vs. the RPI Top 50 and Top 100.  For the "In" and "Out" teams, I'm putting them in order based on RPI ranking.  For the "Bubble" teams, I am putting them in order based on what I think their likelihood of making the NCAA Tournament is (which may or may not fall in line with the RPI ranking).

1.  Purdue
RPI:  18
BPI:  9
Overall record:  20-5
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  5-3
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  10-4
Good wins:  5 (at Maryland (23), Wisconsin (24), Notre Dame* (25), Northwestern (34), at Michigan State (41))
Bad losses:  1 (at Iowa (105))

2.  Minnesota
RPI:  21
BPI:  44
Overall record:  18-7
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  4-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  8-7
Good wins:  4 (at Purdue (18), at Northwestern (34), Arkansas (42), UT Arlington (48))
Bad losses:  None

3.  Maryland
RPI:  23
BPI:  43
Overall record:  20-4
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  3-1
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  12-4
Good wins:  3 (at Minnesota (21), Oklahoma State (28), Kansas State* (43))
Bad losses:  None

4.  Wisconsin
RPI:  24
BPI:  15
Overall record:  21-4
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  2-4
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  12-4
Good wins:  2 (at Minnesota (21), Tennessee* (44))
Bad losses:  None

5.  Northwestern
RPI:  34
BPI:  38
Overall record:  19-6
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  3-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  8-6
Good wins:  3 (at Wisconsin (24), Dayton* (30), Wake Forest (31))
Bad losses:  None

6.  Michigan State
RPI:  41
BPI:  49
Overall record:  15-10
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  3-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  7-9
Good wins:  3 (Minnesota (21), at Minnesota (21), Northwestern (34))
Bad losses:  1 (Northeastern (140))

7.  Michigan
RPI:  61
BPI:  24
Overall record:  16-9
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  2-6
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  9-8
Good wins:  2 (SMU* (19), Michigan State (41))
Bad losses:  1 (at Iowa (105))

8.  Indiana
RPI:  87
BPI:  30
Overall record:  15-11
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  3-7
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  6-10
Good wins:  3 (Kansas* (3), North Carolina (5), Michigan State (41))
Bad losses:  1 (at Fort Wayne (167))

9.  Ohio State
RPI:  59
BPI:  56
Overall record:  15-11
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  2-8
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  6-9
Good wins:  2 (Minnesota (21), Michigan State (41))
Bad losses:  2 (at Iowa (105), Florida Atlantic (297))

10.  Penn State
RPI:  65
BPI:  87
Overall record:  14-12
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  3-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  6-9
Good wins:  3 (Minnesota (21), Maryland (23), Michigan State* (41))
Bad losses:  3 (George Mason (111), Rutgers (146), Albany (157))

11.  Illinois
RPI:  66
BPI:  72
Overall record:  13-12
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  2-7
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  6-12
Good wins:  2 (VCU* (27), at Northwestern (34))
Bad losses:  None

12.  Nebraska
RPI:  83
BPI:  106
Overall record:  9-14
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  3-8
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  4-11
Good wins:  3 (Purdue (18), at Maryland (23), Dayton* (30))
Bad losses:  3 (at Iowa (105), at Rutgers (146), Gardner-Webb (221))

13.  Iowa
RPI:  105
BPI:  90
Overall record:  14-12
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  1-8
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  5-10
Good wins:  1 (Purdue (18))
Bad losses:  2 (Memphis* (103), Omaha (182))

14.  Rutgers
RPI:  146
BPI:  148
Overall record:  12-13
Record vs. RPI Top 50:  0-8
Record vs. RPI Top 100:  2-11
Good wins:  None (at Penn State (65))
Bad losses:  2 (Iowa (105), at Iowa (105))

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