Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, February 10, 2017
For the first time ever, the NCAA Division I Men?s Basketball Selection Committee will reveal the nation?s top 16 seeds, identifying the top-four teams in each region as they stand on Saturday, Feb. 11. CBS Sports and Turner Sports will air the show at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
How many Big Ten teams can we anticipate seeing in the top 16 when this made-for-TV event takes place? (Psst, the latest polls are here.)
No doubt, Wisconsin will be included. The No. 7 Badgers sit atop the Big Ten with a 10-1 league mark, winners of eight in a row and 17 of their last 18 games with a 21-3 record. The lone Big Ten loss? At Purdue. Not bad. Wisconsin is the clear bellwether in the Big Ten. And at this moment, the Badgers figure to be a No. 3 seed. Can they get much higher?
It would seem Wisconsin?s ceiling probably is a No. 2 seed. But if the Badgers win out and also claim the Big Ten tourney title, maybe they could ascend to the No. 1 seed line-depending on what else happens across the nation.
The other team that figures to be in the top 16 on Saturday is Purdue. The No. 16 Boilermakers are playing their best ball of the season, coming off an impressive five-game run in which they won road games at Michigan State, at Maryland and at Indiana ? and also took down Northwestern in Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers are 20-5 overall and second in the Big Ten with a 9-3 record.
At this time, Purdue looks like a No. 4 seed. Perhaps it could ascend to a No. 3 with a strong finish and possibly could be a No. 2 if it wins out and takes home the Big Ten tourney title. The Boilers have some nice wins, being the lone conference team to take down Wisconsin. But Purdue has three ugly losses: at home to Minnesota, at Iowa and at Nebraska. That could cost the program a shot at just its second league title since 1996–and a marquee NCAA seed.
Could any other Big Ten schools join Wisconsin and Purdue in the top 16 on Saturday? Not likely. But the one school with hope is Maryland, which is 20-4 overall and 8-3 in the Big Ten. The Terps looked like a No. 5 or 6 seed before the loss at Penn State this week. As it is, Maryland doesn?t have a sterling resume. There is a lack of marquee non-con victories (Oklahoma State? Kansas State? Really?). And the Terrapins have no notable conference triumphs (At Michigan? At Minnesota? At Iowa?). And they have lost their last two games, vs. Purdue and at Penn State. Maryland still has games at Northwestern and at Wisconsin, offering a chance to impress.
As for other Big Ten NCAA tourney hopefuls, Northwestern appears to be in good position with an 18-6 overall record and a 7-4 league mark. But the Wildcats have lost two in a row and still have games at Wisconsin, vs. Maryland and vs. Purdue. This is no time for NU to coast.
So, other than Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland and Northwestern, the Big Ten?s NCAA hopes appear shaky. Michigan State, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan all have lots of work to do. How many from that group will make the Big Dance?
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