Big Ten Seeding Forecast
Selection Sunday is just about four weeks away, and teams in the Big Ten are looking to strengthen their respective resumes in any way possible, whether it be for seeding purposes or just to make the field of 68. I will classify my projections for the conference into three categories: locks, probables, and the most intriguing, bubblicious. I will use RPI (ratings percentage index and strength of schedule, as well to make my evaluations. All Top 50 ratings are based on RPI.
Locks: Maryland, Iowa, Michigan State, Indiana
Maryland (22-4)- Projection: 1 seed
RPI: 7 SOS: 28 Top 50 Wins: 5
A home loss to Wisconsin may be tough to swallow, but Wisconsin has been hot as of late and that was the first loss of the season in College Park for the Terps. I see Maryland neck and neck with Iowa for the fourth number one seed (as does RPI) but I’m giving the edge to Mark Turgeon’s team because of the head-to-head victory. I have Villanova, Kansas, and Oklahoma joining Maryland on the one line.
Iowa (20-5)- Projection: 2 seed
RPI: 8 SOS: 13 Top 50 Wins: 5
What’s not to love from the Hawkeyes, who have been one of the most surprising teams in the nation thus far. They currently lead the conference, and they have two road wins against the RPI top 20 as well as solid nonconference wins over Wichita State and Florida State. Jarrod Uthoff is looking like the frontrunner for Big Ten Player of the Year and he has this deep team poised for an extended stay in the Big Dance. The depth of the conference may lead to a few more losses, which is why I’m hesitant to put the Hawkeyes on the top line.
Michigan State (21-5)- Projection: 4 seed
RPI: 19 SOS: 71 Top 50 Wins: 6
Wins over Kansas and Maryland have the Spartans in great shape, but a weak out-of-conference schedule and a loss to Nebraska keep them out of the top three lines. Denzel Valentine is finally back to full strength it seems, but only one game remains against a top 50 team (Wisconsin). If one thing is for sure, it’s that Tom Izzo’s team will be dangerous in March, one of two teams in the country who have reached the sweet 16 in four straight years.
Indiana (20-5)- Projection: 7 seed
RPI: 36 SOS: 135 Top 50 Wins: 3
The Hoosiers put themselves firmly into the field by way of a win over Iowa, their 10th in Big Ten play. The lack of a road win inside the top 50 and losses to Wake Forest, UNLV, and Penn State have Indiana sitting in the middle of the pack.
Probables: Purdue, Michigan
Purdue (20-6)- Projection: 8 seed
RPI: 20 SOS: 52 Top 50 Wins: 4
Plenty of chances for the Boilermakers to pick up a signature win, but they are currently 0-3 against the RPI top 10 and their best win came in overtime at home against Michigan State, a game in which they blew an 18-point lead. They have to be careful the next few weeks or they may see their seed slip even more.
Michigan (19-7)- Projection: 9 seed
RPI: 51 SOS: 92 Top 50 Wins: 3
The Wolverines’ comeback win over aforementioned Purdue takes them safely off the bubble for now, having wins over Maryland and Texas in the nonconference as well. They have dropped seven games against the top 50, but haven’t lost outside of that group.
Wisconsin (16-9)- Projection: 10
RPI: 42 SOS: 6 Top 50 Wins: 5
The Selection Committee rewards teams who finish strong, and the Badgers have taken advantage of that, winning their last seven games after a 1-4 conference start. The strength of schedule is phenomenal, and the win at Maryland definitely moves them into the field, but four early losses outside the Top 25 will likely keep this team from wearing their white jerseys at all come tournament time.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.