Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27, 2017

The Gophers received as much help from their prior opponents over the weekend as they helped themselves with a win over Penn State.  Indiana and Iowa slid into the top-100 with their wins over Northwestern and Maryland - who both remained in the top-50. Meanwhile, Michigan wiggled into the top-50 with their victory over Purdue.  After all that, Minnesota now sits at 7 top-50 wins (T-7th), 13 top-100 wins (T-10th), and SOW of 106 (7th).  Add to that a #16 RPI and #16 SOS and you have a resume of a 4-seed.

Gophers updated Best-/Worst-case scenarios:
Best-case (win out, including Big10 tourney): A 28-7 record with a top-10 RPI and double digit top-50 wins would be at least a 3-seed and very likely a #2.
Worst-case (lose next three games): A 22-10 record with ~#25 RPI, 6-7 top-50 wins and no sub-100 losses should be no worse than an 8-seed, and more likely a #7.

In terms of Big Ten tournament selections, the last few days have been as productive as they possibly could have been.  Each of the last eight conference games has ended such that the number of Big Ten teams selected could be maximized.  None of the locked teams have beaten a bubble team, nor have the three "eliminated" teams upset a contender.  In fact, going back a full week, last Tuesday's Iowa's OT victory over Indiana was the last match-up between bubble contenders.  Looking forward, there is a long-shot scenario where the Big10 gets to 11 selections, but either Ohio State or Indiana would need to win the Big10 tourney as one will have 14 losses on selection Sunday.

Locked teams: Minnesota, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland
Likely in: Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State
Needs work: Illinois, Ohio State, Indiana, Iowa

Take a look and let me know where my one-in-a-million scenario is most likely to fall apart.

1. Illinois wins its remaining games against Michigan State & Rutgers to enter the Big10 tourney 18-12.
2. Iowa wins its remaining games against Wisconsin & Penn State to enter the tourney 18-13.
3. Indiana wins its remaining games against Purdue & Ohio State to enter the tourney 18-13.
4. Ohio State beats Penn State, enters the tourney 17-14 as the 12-seed and wins the tourney, securing an auto-bid.
5. 9-seeded Illinois beats #8 Northwestern and #1 Purdue before losing to #11 Ohio State in the semis.  They're 20-14 on selection Sunday and earn an at-large based on their 7-1 finish (4 over tourney teams)
6. 7-seeded Iowa defeats #10 Nebraska, #2 Wisconsin and #11 Indiana before losing to Ohio State in the finals.  They're 21-14 on selection Sunday and earn an at-large bid based on their own 7-1 finish (5 over tourney teams)
7. #11 Indiana beats #14 Rutgers, #6 Michigan and #3 Minnesota before losing to Iowa in the semis.  They earn an at-large bid at 21-14 with a boatload of quality wins.
8. Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State would all have to retain their at-large status throughout this upheaval, defeating the higher-seeded "lock" teams along the way, meaning 11 Big Ten teams make the tournament.

Luckily there are very few at-large qualifiers from non-power conferences, so there are fewer opportunities for cinderellas to steal an at-large bid.  As long as either Cincinnati or SMU wins the AAC, Gonzaga or Saint Mary's wins the WCC, and Dayton or VCU wins the A10, then there should be a whopping 44 at-large bids available for the power conferences.

This bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

1's: Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina, Gonzaga
2's: Baylor, Louisville, Arizona, Oregon
3's: Florida, Florida State, Duke, Butler
4's: Kentucky, UCLA, Minnesota, Purdue
5's: Notre Dame, Creighton, West Virginia, Maryland
6's: Saint Mary's, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Virginia
7's: Miami (FL), South Carolina, SMU, Dayton
8's: Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Northwestern
9's: Michigan, VCU, USC, Michigan State
10's: Xavier, Arkansas, Seton Hall, Marquette
11's: California, Rhode Island, Providence, Kansas State, Illinois, Wichita State
12's: Middle Tennessee, UNC Wilmington, Nevada, UTA
13's: New Mexico State, Monmouth, Vermont, Belmont
14's: Princeton, East Tennessee State, Valparaiso, Akron
15's: UNC Asheville, Florida Gulf Coast, Bucknell, North Dakota State
16's: Eastern Washington, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern, New Orleans, Mount Saint Mary's, UC Irvine

FFO: Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, Syracuse
NFO: Ole Miss, TCU, Georgia, Indiana

Others still in contention for At-Large bid:
(<14 losses, Top-150 SOS, 3+ Top-100 wins)
9. Georgia Tech
10. Iowa
11. Texas Tech
12. Texas A&M
13. Boise State
14. Alabama
15. Houston
16. BYU
17. Auburn
18. Colorado
19. Memphis
20. Colorado State
21. Charleston
22. San Diego State
23. UCF
24. Fresno State
25. New Mexico
26. La Salle
27. William & Mary

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