March Watch: Will seven Big Ten teams go dancing?

  • 02/17/2015 11:27 am in

After splitting a pair of games last week, Indiana remains in very good position to return to the NCAA tournament after missing the postseason altogether last season. The Hoosiers enter Thursday’s game at Assembly Hall with Purdue with an 18-8 mark overall and an 8-5 record in Big Ten games.

We’re back this week with another edition of “March Watch,” which will be a weekly feature up until Selection Sunday on March 15. We’ll take a look at IU’s current nitty gritty profile, bracket projections and the potential of the Big Ten receiving seven NCAA bids and more.

Overview

Indiana continues to boast a strong tournament profile with four wins over teams currently viewed as solid bets to make the tournament in Butler, SMU, Ohio State and Maryland. IU also has a win over Illinois, which is right on the bubble line in most projections. With five conference games to go, including three at Assembly Hall, opportunities remain for Indiana to further strengthen its resume.

Nitty Gritty Profile

· Record: 18-8 (8-5 Big Ten)
· RPI: 29
· SOS: 25 (via CBS)
· Home Record: 15-1
· Away Record: 2-5
· Neutral Court Record: 1-2
· vs. RPI Top 50: 6-6 (via ESPN)
· vs. RPI Top 51-100: 3-2 (via ESPN)

Current Projections

· ESPN Bracketology (Joe Lunardi): 7 seed in East Region vs. Colorado State in Pittsburgh
· CBS Sports (Jerry Palm): 5 seed in South Region vs. Murray State in Portland
· Assembly Call (Andy Bottoms): 7 seed in West Region vs. LSU in Portland
· Crashing the Dance: No. 25 overall seed
· Bracket Matrix: 7 seed

Not much has changed in the last week as Indiana is solidly in the field in every projection we’re tracking. The seeding model on Crashing the Dance currently has the Hoosiers with the third best overall profile among Big Ten teams behind Wisconsin and Maryland.

Final record projections

KenPom.com continues to project Indiana to finish 21-10 overall with an 11-7 mark in the conference. The Only Colors, which has been projecting the Big Ten race all conference season, gives Indiana a 97.3 percent chance to finish with 10 or more conference wins and a 84.9 percent chance to win 11 or more Big Ten games. That model also shows Indiana at  57.1 percent for a top four conference finish, which would earn a bye to Friday in the Big Ten tournament. RPIForecast.com now lists the three most likely final regular season records for IU as: 21-10, 22-9 and 20-11, as shown below:

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 10.12.36 AM copy

A look at the conference as a whole

As for the Big Ten at-large, the latest ESPN bracketology has the league as a seven-bid league with an eighth team, Purdue, as one of the first four teams out. Right now, you can probably only put Wisconsin and Maryland as the teams that are “locks” to make it. Here’s a brief look at other profiles across the league:

· Wisconsin (23-2, RPI 6): The Badgers continue to roll along without Traevon Jackson and with the regular season Big Ten crown as a near certainty, all that’s left to answer is whether a No. 1 seed is in the cards.

· Maryland (21-5, RPI 10): Neither win was pretty (vs. Indiana, at Penn State), but Maryland took care of business last week and jumped up seven spots in the RPI as a result. The Terps are in solid position to grab a No. 4 seed (or higher) if they can beat Nebraska twice, Michigan at home and Rutgers on the road in the coming weeks.

· Ohio State (19-7, RPI 35): The Buckeyes aren’t quite in the lock territory for a NCAA bid because of an awful non-conference schedule, but a favorable schedule the rest of the way (at Michigan, vs. Nebraska, vs. Purdue, at Penn State, vs. Wisconsin) should yield the wins necessary to place them solidly in the field.

· Michigan State (17-8, RPI 36): The Spartans got a pair of wins last week and as a result, made a major jump in the RPI. However, the remaining schedule is brutal with road trips to Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana still to go and home games with Minnesota and Purdue that won’t be easy, either. As of today, Michigan State is in the field, but missteps the rest of the way could lead the selection committee to look more closely at the profile and a loss to a team like Texas Southern could be damaging.

· Illinois (17-9, RPI 43): Illinois pulled out a game it absolutely needed to have at home against Michigan last week and was then throttled at Wisconsin, so the Illini remain right on the cut line in most projections. Road trips to Iowa and Purdue, two teams who are also fighting for bids, still loom as does a pivotal home game this Sunday against Michigan State. In all likelihood, Illinois is going to need to win a game or two in Chicago at the Big Ten tournament to feel safe on Selection Sunday.

· Iowa (15-10, RPI 55): The Hawkeyes had easily the worst week of any Big Ten team with a home loss to Minnesota and then an overtime loss to Northwestern in Evanston. Iowa still has road trips to Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State to go as well as a home game with Illinois and the margin for error is slim for a team that appears to be headed in the wrong direction.

· Purdue (17-9, RPI 66): It’s been a tale of two seasons in West Lafayette as the Boilermakers have been very good in the Big Ten but are still being hurt in the computers by terrible losses to Gardner-Webb and North Florida. Purdue still has plenty of more opportunities to claim wins that would go a long way in pushing them into the tournament (at IU, at Ohio State and at Michigan State), but it’s hard to see eight Big Ten teams in the field and right now, Purdue is right near the cut line.

2015 Tournament Sites 

· First round: Dayton
· Second, third round: Charlotte, Columbus, Louisville, Jacksonville, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Portland, Seattle
· Regional: Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, Syracuse
· Final Four: Indianapolis

Filed to:

  • Ole Man

    Guaranteed that PUke goes dancing if they finish ahead of us in the standings.

  • SconsinHoosier

    I agree. Not saying IU *will* win-out, but looking at the schedule I’m not sure they’ll be an underdog in any of their remaining games either. Sure, Purdue has been playing well and destroyed the Hoosiers earlier, but are they really coming to Assembly Hall as the favorite? Same with MSU. If IU drops a game or two, I think it’ll be considered an upset. They’re a different team at home, which isn’t surprising given their youth, and while the road is always tough, @NU and @RU are games I would expect IU to be favored. If they win out, and MD and OSU lose only to Wisconsin, then I believe IU needs one of OSU, ILL or Iowa to finish ahead of Purdue or MSU to secure the #2 seed in the B1G Tourney. 23-8 regular season and 24-9 or 25-9 feels like a 4/5 seed, maybe better.

  • NC Hoosier

    I could not agree more. I would much rather a 10 or 11 seed than an 8 or 9. I think for teams in that range, the 8/9 seed is the worst possible scenario.

  • plane1972

    I’m not saying we are going to make a deep run, but we will be a fearful match up for most teams just based on having an elite point guard and the ability to shoot the three at potentially all five positions. If teams are confident defending the three, then they will give us fits.

  • We have a few good examples of them doing just that on occasion, and I do sense a difference in the team in terms of attitude and effort. Thursday night will be the real litmus test for me as to whether the team is on the right path. If they beat Purdue soundly, using their strengths and avoiding their weaknesses, then I’ll expect great things from then on out.

    Bottom line is I think we can surprise some teams in the tournament. I think a good many taller teams who know nothing about IU will only look at the roster and have no idea what this team is capable of. And that could be a very dangerous attitude to take.

  • That’s what was so great about the Minn game. The offense created good open outside shots against a very solid defensive team. It can be done with good execution, and we don’t have to shoot at such a crazy clip to win games. Just a good and not great shooting night by this team can beat some good teams.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Funny, many ITHers wanted HMP on the bench . . . not realizing his defensive energy. Also, I have witnessed some outstanding defensive teams outside our conference, they can guard the perimeter and we need to be spot on moving the ball, penetrating, and effective kickouts. If they are dialed in, they can be a cinderella team wreaking havoc on people’s brackets. GO HOOSIERS!

  • fun fact: last year’s NCAA champion was a smaller, guard-oriented team, which went into the tournament as a 7 seed.

  • plus they play dirty and their coach seems to want to defend that publicly. I hope they don’t win another game.

  • SeeingRed

    I agree. And I don’t think the Iowa game is a lock, either. They are Jekyll or Hyde — they will be desperate. They’re long and if they actually show up to play they can cause matchup issues for IU. The key will be to get all over them early and break their spirit — there is plenty of wilt in the underachieving Hawkeyes this year.

    So there are three iffy games left. I expect 2-1 in those three and will be just fine with that outcome if it happens. If they can’t beat Northwestern and Rutgers on the road, they don’t deserve a decent seed.

  • Miamihoosier

    Interesting take. I think we’d beat all of those teams in the tourney, except Virginia, Gonzaga, Kentucky and Wisconsin . Of course we’ll never know, but i think we can all agree just dont stick us with Wisconsin

  • Hoosier Hall

    I hope our entire student section wears safety glasses/goggles for the Iowa game.

  • CreamandCrimson

    That’s very true and I’m not writing off IU’s chances to have a nice run in the tourney (no matter what seed we get…if we get in, we are a dangerous matchup). However, I think we have to remember what UConn’s best asset was last season. Shabazz Napier was incredible in the tournament but the main reason they won the title was because of their defense. They ended up as the 10th best defense (by KenPom rankings) in the country.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Louisville destroyed UCONN 3 times last year. It’s not about who is better head to head sometimes, it’s about who’s better overall.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I don’t underestimate Gonzaga at all I just think it would be an exciting matchup. High scoring, high efficiency basketball.

  • Hoosier Hall

    If they do, then 4 of them will probably lose in the first round. LSU has the talent but they just plain suck sometimes. The only team I’d say deserves it other than UK is Arkansas.

  • Eastwood88_2

    MSU is not winning 4 more games. That schedule is brutal. They better hope they make the Tourney. PU is not winning at OSU or MSU. Their only chance is against a much smaller IU, but I don’t think they win that. The injuries have played a big roll for them.

  • Kyl470

    Louisville also earned a high seed in the NCAA tournament than UConn though.

  • Kyl470

    All I’m saying is that if at the end of the year you have two teams from the same conference with the same record in conference play and a similar overall record it would be hard to pick a team that lost twice in a head to head matchup over the other team. If IU and Purdue both finished at 11-7 in the conference and both finished within a game or two of each other overall and IU beat Purdue twice and Purdue made it over IU, I would be ticked.

  • Hoosier Hall

    True.

  • Blair McKee

    It can! I believe! IU must learn to win on the road and play just a bit of defense to stay competitive. Otherwise they’ll need to force the NCAA games to be held in Bloomington.

  • Blair McKee

    Oh yeah, and IU needs to beat Purdue by twenty. Just for the psychology

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    nobody is gonna want to see us in their region!! GO HOOSIERS!!

  • ForeverIU

    Love my Razorbacks (my other alma mater). I hope they are the team to beat Kensucky this year. They did it twice last year.

  • IU diehard from CT

    cmon man we all know nobody is going to beat wisconsin

  • IU diehard from CT

    exactly

  • IU diehard from CT

    I’ve seen the zags play this year several times. they would clobber IU. IU has nobody to stop wiltjer.

  • IU diehard from CT

    at 23-8 or potentially 24-9 they would get a 4 seed. at worst a 5. maybe even a 3 if they get to the bigtourney final

  • calbert40

    It makes perfect sense, OM. I just used an exaggerated example to prove the point. I’m not saying the selection committee wouldn’t take it into account if PU swept us, but our tourney resume is light years better than theirs.

    RPI: IU 29, PU 66
    KenPom: IU 41, PU 51
    SOS: IU 25, PU 76
    Top 50: IU 6-6, PU 3-1

    Good wins:
    IU – Maryland (11), Butler (20), SMU (22), OSU (35), Pitt (47)
    PU – IU (29), OSU (35), NCST (49), BYU (60)

    Bad losses:
    IU – doesn’t have one. Worst loss is E. Washington (73). Next worst is PU (66)
    PU – N. Florida (191), Gardner-Webb (167), Vandy (117), K-State (99)

    Purdue has four losses against inferior competition to our worst loss. Their best win is against US! We have three wins that are against higher RPI teams than we are.

    Our resume destroys theirs….regardless of our head to head games.

  • I want IU to earn best record possible but I would love to see them play out here in Portland Oregon again. IU gets lots of lov out here!!

  • calbert40

    UL finished 29-5 last year. UCONN was 26-8. IMO, UL got jobbed with their seed last year (4). And a 26 win team from a major conference receiving a 7 seed is pretty low too.

  • calbert40

    Last night’s win at UM was a key to their rest of season schedule, IMO. They are better than UM, but it was a rivalry game on the road. They now have a strong chance to go 3-3 over their last six. That would put them at 11-7.

  • Tcuomo

    It definitely goes a long way for them. IF MSU can steal a win @ILL on Sunday i think they get those 4 wins. We will see. I was hoping UM would pull off the win. I want that bye come BIG Tourney time. The good news is IU is still in control of getting the bye.

  • Outoftheloop

    The SEC deserves 2-KY and Ark.

  • Outoftheloop

    If Ark beats KY this season, then they will rank as MY #1!

  • calbert40

    Exactly. We really don’t need to scoreboard watch. UW has all but guaranteed themselves the #1 seed. IU and Maryland basically control their own destiny, considering their remaining schedules. It comes down to OSU, MSU and PU. All of them have pretty rough roads.

  • Outoftheloop

    You meant MSU 11-7 / 10-8. My projections IU 13-5 and MD 13-5. Then PU 11-7, OSU 11-7, MSU 10-8

  • Outoftheloop

    No one is overlooking any game. But if Indiana wants a “great” season, then they need to win all 5!

  • Outoftheloop

    No! They are being played at The Hall! IU 75%!

  • JetpackJunky

    UConn was swept last year by SMU, does that count?

  • calbert40

    Yes, you’re right on the Michigan State projection. My mistake.

    If you made me choose today:
    1. Wisconsin 17-1
    2. Maryland 13-5
    3t. Indiana 12-6
    3t. MSU 12-6
    5t. Purdue 11-7
    5t. Ohio St. 11-7

    I think MSU’s win over UM last night was huge for them. I think they will win 3 of their last 5 now.

  • TomJameson

    I agree. My only worry is the officiating (regarding Hammond) and the worry that PU might need and want this game more than IU. This game could be the one that gets PU into the big dance.

  • TomJameson

    Forever isn’t saying it so I’ll use his words. Lets go 1-0 over the next game. And let’s do that every single game.

  • TomJameson

    Exactly, defense wins titles. IU defense isn’t going to get a lot better, but they can get more intense and active. If they do like they’ve shown they can, they can beat anybody. Even teams with decent bigs.

  • Indiana_Banners

    UConn is a bit of a funky champ as a #7 seed but SMU beat them twice, didn’t make the NCAAs at all, and definitely weren’t a better team so it fits.

  • John D Murphy

    I don’t think we would fare well against any of those teams outside of Assembly Hall. I’ll add Louisville and Utah to the list.