Penn State wins at Ohio State, Northwestern wins convincingly at Wisconsin and the Nebraska Cornhuskers have reeled off a few wins.
There are no pushover games in Big Ten basketball anymore. The conference is now formidable from top to bottom. It should be considered the best in America, but many cite the success of perennial bottom-feeders as a reason to criticize.
Nobody in the conference is running the table on the way to a No. 1 NCAA seed. But come Selection Sunday there should be seven or even eight bids waiting for Big Ten teams, cries from the ACC and other conferences notwithstanding.
By the way, don’t bother to look at RPI rankings too closely. In case you haven’t caught a game on ESPN lately, there is a shiny new toy the network has unveiled known as the “BPI.”
The BPI is touted as factoring additional criteria not covered by the traditional RPI. Included in the BPI is margin of victory (coaches please feel free to run up the score) and Dan Dakich’s opinion.
In fact all the Sabermetric-like tools should be thrown out along with the selection committee. Just have Dakich and Seth Davis determine and seed the field of 68 and be done with it.
Of course that would be bad news for fans of Saint Louis, Creighton, Wichita State and San Diego State.
But hey, no one said it was fair or a popularity contest.
Here are the postseason prospects of the Big Ten field, delivered Dakich style.
Senior point guard Keith Appling shares a last name with a baseball legend known as “old aches and pains.” Unfortunately this Appling is on the shelf himself with a bum wrist. The Spartans took a tough loss at Wisconsin (if I watch the final half-court heave by Sparty any more I swear it will go in) but are still on track for a top-two finish in the regular season and a two or three seed come March.
One night, back when Glenn Robinson III’s dad was in the NBA, Milwaukee Bucks announcer Howard David suggested that Big Dog should be aware of a rule allowing a player to pass to any of his four teammates. “It’s highly recommended,” he said.
Michigan’s stock took a hit after being routed at Iowa over the weekend. And GR3’s draft stock has also taken a hit. Michigan responded Tuesday night with a huge road win at Ohio State, which should quickly repair its RPI drop. Michigan is at least a three seed.
Dakich praised Iowa fans for making the trek to Carver-Hawkeye Arena despite white out conditions and massive pile-ups on I-80. He’s making a trip into Iowa City sound like trying to navigate Atlanta in an ice storm.
Obviously the BPI loved the rout of Michigan, and Iowa might have won at Wisconsin had coach Fran McCaffery not gone bonkers. Look for Iowa to be a four seed.
Despite sliding for most of January, the Badgers remain in nice shape in the RPI rankings. A win at Michigan this weekend would put U-Dub back in the top tier. But I’m not as sold. Wisconsin isn’t playing the lock-down defense they have in years past. Put Bucky down for a five seed.
Like Wisconsin, the Buckeyes have also skidded lately. But Aaron Craft is the best player in America. He is the frontrunner for the Wooden award (sorry Doug McDermott fans). Slip the Buckeyes into a five seed after being dominated by Michigan.
The Gophers sit on the sunny side of the bubble right now, and a win at Wisconsin this week would be massive. Don’t expect Richard Pitino to stay at ancient Williams Arena and in the shadow of the top-ranked hockey program too long. This is a stepping stone job for him. The Gophers will be a nine seed when all said and done.
Chris Collins’ squad has really stepped it up the last three weeks, going 5-1 in six contest decided by 10 points or fewer. Look for the Wildcats drought of NEVER making the Big Dance to end next year.
I told you Dakich’s opinion weighs heavily in the BPI. Losses at Nebraska notwithstanding, is there any doubt the Hoosiers DON’T make the tourney field? Put in IU as a seven seed.
Nearly unbeatable in their sparkling new arena, Herbie scored a much needed road win at Northwestern over the weekend. With a very favorable schedule, the Huskers are capable of going 6-2 and putting themselves in discussion for a NCAA bid.
I repeat: in the discussion. Losing by 40 to a Michigan team (at least until they called off the dogs) that turned around and lost by 30 at Iowa will hurt the computer rankings. Terran Petteway has proven himself to be one of the better players in the conference but gets little pub in the outback of Lincoln. Worst case scenario has Huskers hosting a NIT game or two at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Coming off a triple-overtime win over Minnesota, Purdue gets Indiana at home this week. Michigan and Michigan St. loom on the horizon however.
Illinois does wear blue and orange, which reminds me, aren’t the New York Knicks awful? They’re the only team to lose to the Milwaukee Bucks in the last month and a half, Mike Woodson should be fired now!
The Illini have been nearly as bad in recent weeks, a win over Penn State over the weekend broke an eight-game losing streak.
Rant No. 2. Has the B1G cloned six Gene Steratore’s to officiate all conference games. Dakich calls him one of the best zebras in the game, but he has had less than flattering moments in two sports over the past few weeks.
A three-game winning streak gave the Nittany Lions some momentum, but they dropped both games last week to fall back into the conference cellar.