As the Big Ten reaches the late stages of conference play, more than half the conference is projected to make the NCAA Tournament, according to Jerry Palm’s latest bracketology for CBS Sports.
Wisconsin comes in as the Big Ten’s highest-seeded team with a 4 seed, which is pretty logical given the Badgers have a 1.5-game lead in the conference standings and have won 17 of their last 18. Even better for Wisconsin, Palm has them starting the tournament at home in Milwaukee, which is sure to be a friendly place to play for two rounds.
What’s likely limiting the Badgers from a higher seed is a lack of standout wins. The Badgers’ three losses also happen to be against their three highest-ranked opponents per KenPom.com (No. 10 North Carolina, No. 11 Purdue, and No. 24 Creighton), which means their best win by opponent ranking is a 68-64 home victory over No. 30 Michigan.
CBS will reveal the tournament selection committee’s current top 16 teams at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Coming in right after the Badgers is Purdue with a 5 seed. The Boilermakers have had some stumbles in Big Ten play, but are coming off key wins over Northwestern, Maryland, and Indiana. They also defeated Notre Dame in December.
Northwestern remains projected to make its first tournament trip in program history, currently projected as an 8 seed.
By far the biggest surprise is the Big Ten’s last team in: Ohio State. The Buckeyes seemed dead in the water following a disastrous 0-4 start to conference play, but they’ve managed to show a pulse with a 5-3 record since and are now projected as an 11 seed to play in the First Four in Dayton (just like Michigan State).
However, Ohio State stands at 15-10 overall and 5-7 in conference play and probably needs a few more good wins and/or a strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament to have a legitimate argument for inclusion. The Buckeyes didn’t chalk up any impressive nonconference victories. Palm isn’t alone in thinking Ohio State could be near the bubble, though, as Stewart Mandel included them in his Next Four Out on Friday morning.
Here’s where Palm has eight Big Ten teams seeded:
- 4-seed Wisconsin
- 5-seed Purdue
- 6-seed Maryland
- 7-seed Minnesota
- 8-seed Northwestern
- 10-seed Michigan
- 11-seed Michigan State (First Four)
- 11-seed Ohio State (First Four)