Dec 28, 2014; Madison, WI, USA; The Big Ten Conference logo on the Kohl Center Court during pre-game warm-ups before the Wisconsin Badgers take to the floor to play the Buffalo Bulls at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
This season in college basketball thus far has been quite a doozy. But, it’s only going to get even crazier as we head into March Madness. Over the next two weeks, teams all across the country will be fighting for positioning and vying for a coveted spot in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
By Big Ten basketball standards, this has been a down year for the conference. However, there are still plenty of teams with a chance to make it into the Round of 64. Only two teams in the B1G are locks to get in currently, but there are six other teams, who with solid finishes to the season and success in the Big Ten tournament, could hear their names called on Selection Sunday.
With that being said, here’s the Bubble Watch in the Big Ten with a week left in the regular season.
#6 Wisconsin (26-3, 14-2 Big Ten)
#10 Maryland (24-5, 12-4 Big Ten)
Should Be In:
Ohio St. (21-8, 10-6 Big Ten, SOS: 86, RPI: 32)
The Buckeyes are currently ranked fourth in the conference, but there have been mixed reviews about whether or not their resume is convincing enough. They own two victories over teams in the RPI Top 5o, most notably a blowout home victory over Maryland.
In their last game, the Buckeyes came from behind to defeat Purdue, which puts them in pretty good position for a seed somewhere near the middle of their region.
One knock on this team is their lack of any quality non-conference wins. Their performance in Big Ten play will save them, however.
Michigan St. (19-10, 10-6 Big Ten, SOS: 22, RPI: 30)
The Spartans reputation definitely helps them out a lot here. While their resume is nothing to write home about, they have the makings of a solid tournament team.
Their three best wins this season have come against conference foes, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio State. The win over the Hawkeyes, was on the road, so that should count for something. Similar to Ohio State, the Spartans do not have any notable non-conference victories on their resume, which could hurt their seeding a bit. They also have bad losses against Texas Southern and Nebraska.
They close out the regular season with contests against Indiana and Purdue, so they’ll need to win those and prove their worth to the committee.
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On the Bubble:
Iowa (20-10, 11-6 Big Ten, SOS: 27, RPI: 48)
The Hawkeyes could make a case to be on either side of the bubble, but I believe they still have a little bit of work to do.
One thing that will surely work in their favor is the fact that they have a few quality wins to their credit. Fran McCaffery’s squad knocked off North Carolina and Maryland, as well as sweeping Ohio State.
While they did win some big games, the Hawkeyes have also lost a few games that they should have won, so let’s not forget that. Regardless, if they split their last two regular season games and fare well in the Big Ten tourney, they’ll get in.
Indiana (19-11, 9-8 Big Ten, SOS: 33, RPI: 44)
Indiana is one of those teams that will need to handle their business, as well as get some help from other teams on the tournament bubble.
When the Hoosiers lost to Eastern Washington early in the season, it looked really bad, but now it shouldn’t hurt them too much. The loss that will hurt them is their most recent one at Northwestern, a team with an 100+ RPI.
With Iowa and Michigan State left on their schedule, Indiana has the opportunity to prove it belongs. In a sense, they control their own destiny and cannot afford to slip up.
Purdue (19-10, 11-5 Big Ten, SOS: 80, RPI: 57)
Purdue is a team that owns a few quality wins (NC State, BYU, Iowa, Ohio State) and does not have any bad losses. It also looks really appealing that they have an 11-5 record in the Big Ten.
The Boilermakers’ strength of schedule doesn’t necessarily work in their favor, but for the most part, they’ve taken care of business when they were supposed to.
Purdue still has games against Michigan State and Illinois remaining on the schedule, so strong showings both nights may be enough for them to secure a spot in the tournament.
Illinois (18-11, 8-8 Big Ten, SOS: 58, RPI: 60)
Many people are still unsure about what to make of the Fighting Illini. They’ve won only half of their games in the Big Ten, but considering some of those teams are on this list, they get a slight pass.
What could very well work in the favor of Illinois is their 2-2 record against teams in the RPI Top 25. They hold victories over both Maryland and Baylor, in addition to a road victory over the Spartans. The only loss that would really hurt this team came at the hands of a 13-15 Nebraska team.
If the Illini have any chance of making the field, they will need to win out and probably win at least two games in the Big Ten tournament. That may be a little easier with their star player Rayvonte Rice back in the lineup.