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Big Ten Bracketology: Feb. 8, 2019

Big Ten Teams have 8ish games left on their regular season schedules. What’s the NCAA Tournament prognostication?

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten is loaded at the top and in the middle. If the season were to end today, this what we’re likely looking at. All of this can change pretty quickly.

100 percent completely safe and in:

Michigan Wolverines:

Congratulations, you beat: at Villanova, UNC, Purdue

Bad losses: None.

Key player(s): Ignas Brazdeikis, Zavier Simpson

Summary: Michigan’s only two losses were to two Big Ten teams on the road — Iowa and Wisconsin — and those two are likely going to the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan State Spartans

Congratulations, you beat: Iowa x2, at Ohio State, Maryland

Bad losses: Illinois, maybe?

Key Player(s): Cassius Winston, Nick Ward

Summary: Sparty’s had a rough two weeks, losing games to the Illini and Indiana. The schedule doesn’t get much easier: vs Minnesota, at Wisconsin, vs Ohio State are the next three. MSU’s success prior to the last two weeks was already enough to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Purdue Boilermakers:

Congratulations, you beat: Maryland, at Wisconsin, at Ohio State, vs Michigan State

Bad Losses: None.

Key Player(s): Carsen Edwards, Matt Haarms

Summary: The hottest team in the conference right now, Purdue’s rattled off seven straight wins and 10 of their last 11. The most dangerous team with the most dangerous player in the Big Ten.

Likely in (barring a surreal collapse):

Maryland Terrapins:

Congratulations, you beat: Wisconsin, at Ohio State by double digits.

Bad losses: None.

Key Player(s): Anthony Cowan, Bruno Fernando, Jalen Smith

Summary: Aside from playing and losing to Virginia early on, Maryland benefits from a supremely easy non-conference schedule. The next three games define Maryland’s season: at Purdue, vs Michigan, at Iowa.

Wisconsin Badgers:

Congratulations, you beat: at Iowa, vs Michigan

Bad losses: at Western Kentucky

Key Player(s): Ethan Happ

Summary: Wisconsin re-introduced itself to the national stage when they upset Michigan on national TV three weeks ago. Since then, the Badgers are winners of six straight heading into a rematch with the Wolverines (in Ann Arbor) this weekend.

Iowa Hawkeyes:

Congratulations, you beat: Iowa State by 14, Ohio State, Michigan by 15

Bad losses: None.

Key Player(s): Tyler Cook, Jordan Bohannon

Summary: Consistently ranked this entire season, Iowa’s trouncing of Michigan was just what this team needed. That Iowa State win will look nice come Selection Sunday.

Bubble (Legitimate 50/50 or less at this point):

Rutgers Scarlet Knights:

Congratulations, you beat: Ohio State, Indiana

Bad losses: at Fordham, vs Northwestern

Key Player(s): Eugene Omoruyi, Geo Baker

Summary: Rutgers already has more Big Ten wins this season that any point since joining the Big Ten five years ago. That’s impressive. Wins over Ohio State and Indiana are impressive. Rutgers is in a rare position where it controls its own destiny from here on out if it can beat some of the ranked teams left on its schedule.

Indiana Hoosiers:

Congratulations, you beat: Louisville, at Michigan State

Bad losses: Nebraska by 15, at Northwestern

Key Player(s): Romeo Langford, Juwan Morgan

Summary: There was reasonable panic in Hoosierland during Indiana’s 7-game losing streak. That win at Michigan State was huge and is really the only reason IU is here. Last night’s home loss to Iowa won’t feel good. Up next?: A home game against Ohio State on Sunday then off to Minnesota next weekend.

Minnesota Golden Gophers:

Congratulations, you beat: Washington (neutral court), at Wisconsin, Iowa

Bad losses: at Boston College

Key Player(s): Amir Coffey, Isaiah Washington

Summary: The Gophers have done pretty well, but you get the feeling they really need to get some bigger wins against some better teams. At Michigan State, vs Michigan, vs Purdue and at Maryland are on the schedule. Minnesota has to win a couple of those to win the hearts of the selection committee.

Ohio State Buckeyes:

Congratulations, you beat: at Cincinnati

Bad losses: None.

Key Player(s): Kaleb Wesson, Luther Muhammed, C.J. Jackson

Summary: The real knock on Ohio State is that they’ve lost every game to every tough team they’ve played aside from the Bearcats. OSU’s failed to beat Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State and Maryland — and they weren’t really close in any of those games. Rematches remain on the schedule, and the Bucks need to deliver.


Penn State Nittany Lions:

Congratulations, you beat: Virginia Tech

Bad losses: at Depaul, vs Bradley

Key Player(s): Lamar Stevens, Josh Reaves

Summary: The Big Ten’s worst team has just one conference win (at Northwestern). After being an NIT team last season, Penn State’s drop off coincides with Tony Carr’s abrupt departure in the offseason.

Northwestern Wildcats:

Congratulations, you beat: Indiana

Bad losses: Fresno State (neutral court), Penn State

Key Player(s): Vic Law, A.J. Turner, Dererk Pardon

Summary: Beating Indiana and Rutgers back-to-back was nice. Losing to Penn State was not. Another year, another meh Northwestern basketball team.

Nebraska Cornhuskers:

Congratulations, you beat: Seton Hall, at Clemson

Bad losses: None.

Key Player(s): Jordan Palmer, Isaiah Roby, Glynn Watson

Summary: Isaac Copeland’s injury and Nebraska’s reaction to it has killed Tim Miles’ team. At times, this is an atrocious offensive basketball team. The Cornhuskers are on a six-game skid with a game at Purdue next on the docket.

Illinois Fighting Illini:

Congratulations, you beat: Michigan State, Maryland (neutral court)

Bad losses: vs Florida Atlantic, at Northwestern, at Nebraska by 15

Key player(s): Trent Frazier, Ayo Dosunmu, Giorgi B

Summary: Illinois is playing great basketball as of late, and there might be some truth to Trent Frazier’s claim that he and Ayo combine for the best backcourt in the country. Unfortunately, too little too late for the Illini. An extremely tough non-conference schedule combined with back-to-back December losses to Nebraska and Ohio State meant that this was always going to be an uphill climb. Illini fans have a lot to be proud of since the turn of the new year.

Remember that Illinois vs. Georgetown game back in November? The Illini were in it up until the end before losing by eight? Looking it at it now, Georgetown is an NCAA Tournament-bound team and Illinois is a whole lot better today than they were four months ago playing in that game.

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