With March Madness just around the corner it is time to speculate on Big 10 teams possible seedings, just who is getting in and who might be on the bubble.
Jerry P. Palm has his 2011 projected NCAA tournament bracket up on his collegerpi.com site, where he also figures out RPI’s and strength of schedules (SOS) for every Division 1 team. Palm is well-respected and his football site is used by the BCS in their official ranking system. Last year Palm predicted all 34 at-large-berths and nailed 55 of 65 seeds within one seed of the eventual NCAA bracket.
Palm tweaks his bracket every week and his current projections have five Big 10 teams solidly in the tourney, (Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois) and two Big 10 bubble teams in, but with work to be done, (Michigan State and Penn State).
Ohio State is a No. 1 seed in the East and is up against 16 seed Maine. No surprise there, but in the second round he has the Buckeyes playing the winner of Xavier and Boston College. Playing Xavier would match up two Ohio schools in a game at Cleveland.The Buckeyes must first get through four ranked teams as well as Michigan State and Illinois, both of whom could be in a desperate mode.
Palm also has Penn State firmly on the bubble in the East as a 12 seed playing a 5 seed Mississippi. Penn State has been on the rise and their RPI is 46 and SOS is sixth in the country. With eight games left, the Nittany Lions need to hold serve at home and grab one or more road games against Michigan State, Wisconsin, Northwestern or Minnesota. Penn State has an opportunity to raise some eyebrows with a signature win when they host Ohio State March 1. Dancing in the NCAA as a 12 seed would put Penn State in the primo 12/5 upset role.
Michigan State is listed as an 11 seed in the East going up against Vanderbilt. But the Spartans better get their act together as their stock is falling fast. Sparty has lost four of five including getting pounded by 20 points against last place Iowa. Their schedule and reputation will help get them over a bubble, but only if they do some heavy-lifting as they still play Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota on the road while hosting Illinois and Purdue. Their last game of the regular season is at Michigan, and the Wolverines may be in a position to put a big stake in the Spartans hopes.
Purdue is listed as a 3 seed in the Southeast, playing Coastal Carlina and then possibly North Carolina in the first weekend with the games in Chicago, which would give Purdue a great home court advantage. The Boilermakers would then face a possible match-up against Kansas, in Tulsa.
Palm also has Minnesota as a dreaded 5 seed going up against the 12 seed Cinderella, VCU. Victor would play Kentucky/Harvard winner, too bad Harvard can’t compare GPA’s instead of RPI’s.
Wisconsin is the only team from the Big 10 that Palm has in the West. The Badgers are a 5 seed lined up against Mississippi State. If Wisconsin keeps quietly rising, they could jump up a seed or two. They have the easiest Big 10 schedule, but do play Ohio State twice. The big front line for Wisconsin should give Sullinger and the Buckeyes their stiffest competition yet.
Illinois generously has a 7 seed and as of now Palm’s bracket has the Illini up against Memphis with the winner versus a 2 seed in BYU. Games are in the high-altitude of Denver. Illinois has been stumbling lately and needs to get their act together or see a repeat of sweating out selection Sunday, as they did last year.
For the record, Palm’s No. 1 seeds are- Texas, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Ohio State. To see how your team lines up in his bracket, their RPI and SOS – visit his site, collegerpi.com.