I skipped last week, but Bracketology Roundup is back. The month of January is about to end, which means we're 1.5 months away from Selection Sunday. There is still plenty of time for things to change, but let's look at how things stand today.
Record: 15-5 (5-2 B1G)
vs. RPI Top 25: 2-4
vs. RPI Top 50: 2-4
vs. RPI Top 100: 4-5
Michigan continues to be in solid shape after its wins against Minnesota and Nebraska. Both were necessary wins because the Gophers and Huskers are outside the RPI top 150. A loss to one could have lowered Michigan's RPI significantly. Instead, the Wolverines slowly are creeping up the RPI rankings -- now #30 -- thanks to their two RPI top-25 wins (Maryland and Texas) and no bad losses. What would further help Michigan is if Illinois (#110) could move up and secure the Wolverines another RPI top-100 win.
Bracketolody and Seed Projection Roundup
Crashing the Dance (Jan. 23): #6 Seed
Easy Bubble Solver (Jan. 24)*: #7 Seed
Bracket Matrix (Jan. 25): #7 Seed
CBS Sports (Jan. 25): #7 Seed vs. Florida State (East)
ESPN (Jan. 25): #8 Seed vs. Florida (West)
Sports Illustrated (Jan. 25): #7 Seed vs. VCU (Midwest)
Fox Sports (Jan. 26): #8 Seed vs. Wichita State (East)
SB Nation (Jan. 26): #5 Seed vs. San Diego State (West)
Team Rankings (Jan. 26)*: #8 Seed
*Based on projected resumes on Selection Sunday, not current resumes.
As Michigan continues to win the games it is supposed to, Michigan widens the gap between itself and the bubble. In the last update, the Wolverines mostly either were a #8 or a #9 seed. Now, that is a #7 or #8 seed. Their next two games are against Rutgers and Penn State, so, if they take care of business, they'll continue to hover around this area. Then, Michigan will open the month of February with home games against Indiana and Michigan State. That will be when Michigan makes some moves up the seed ladder.
Big Ten Breakdown
Iowa (16-3, RPI: 7): It's time to start talking to your kids about #1 seed Iowa. In the last two weeks, the Hawkeyes finished off sweeps of Michigan State and Purdue to improve to an unblemished 7-0 in the Big Ten. Those sweeps have given Iowa four RPI top-25 wins. If Iowa beats Maryland on Thursday night, that would be its fifth RPI top-25 win.
Maryland (17-3, RPI: 12): Maryland continues to rack up the wins but not when they're against RPI top-50 teams. The Terrapins fell to 0-3 against such teams with their 74-65 loss to Michigan State. However, all three of those losses were on the road (at North Carolina, at Michigan, and at Michigan State). On Thursday, Maryland will have it first chance to host an RPI top-50 team (Iowa). It will be no easy task, but, if Maryland can pull out the win, it will push into the #1 or #2 seed terrtory. If not, expect the Terrapins to hover around a #3 to #5 seed despite its shiny record.
Michigan State (17-4, RPI: 20): Last time I did a Bracketology Roundup, Michigan State was in line for a #1 seed. Two weeks later, things have changed dramatically. The Spartans lost three straight games, including one at home to a Nebraska team that is not in the RPI top 150, before plugging the profuse bleeding with their win over Maryland -- their fifth against an RPI top-25 team. The Nebraska loss is a killer for Michigan State's resume, but MSU has too many quality wins to free fall. For now, MSU is a #3 seed.
Purdue (17-4, RPI: 24): Considered to a #4 or #5 seed, Purdue is on the border of "Dancing" and "Stretching," but I will give the Boilermakers the benefit of the doubt. They have three RPI top-50 wins, and two of their losses were to Iowa, who's surging towards a #1 seed. Yes, the Illinois loss is an anchor, but KenPom still projects that Purdue will finish the regular season with a 24-7 (12-6 Big Ten) record. That's a lock.
Michigan (15-5, RPI: 30): See above.
Indiana (17-4, RPI: 42): The brackets haven't been adjusted since Indiana's overtime road loss to Wisconsin, but the Hoosiers still are in a comfortable position despite their cupcake schedule, projected as a #7 seed in most places. Nonetheless, they still have only one win over an RPI top-50 team (Notre Dame) and no RPI top-100 road victories.
Bubbling (Just In)
Stepping on Toes (Work to Do)
Wisconsin (12-9, RPI: 68): The last week and a half have been excellent for the Badgers as they earned home wins over Michigan State and Indiana. As a result, their RPI has skied from a fringe top-100 to #68. What helps them is that they have four other RPI top-100 wins, but what hurts is their four losses to teams not in the RPI top-100. Wisconsin is #57 on KenPom, so, it has a good enough team to rack up more wins.
Ohio State (13-8, RPI: 81): In some of the brackets above, Ohio State is included as one of the "Next Four Teams Out," indicating that OSU isn't too far off the bubble. The Buckeyes are supported by their SOS (#33), but their problem is that they lack quality wins. Only two have been against RPI top-100 teams, and, when they have had chances to earn more on the road against Indiana, Maryland, and Purdue, they have been manhandled. If the Buckeyes want to sneak into the tourney, they need to win some of those.
Northwestern (15-6, RPI: 106): It's looking bleak. Northwestern has 15 wins, but only one is against an RPI top-100 team (#68 Wisconsin). Plus, Northwestern dropped two home games to lower-tier Big Ten teams (Ohio State and Penn State). Those were must-wins for a Northwestern program that has the weakest SOS in the Big Ten and likely needs 11 conference wins to secure an at-large berth. That means the Wildcats need to close out the Big Ten with an 8-2 record despite still having a home game against Michigan State and road games against Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan. Yeah...
Nebraska (12-9, RPI: 157): After Nebraska's recent four-game winning streak, I decided not to lump the Huskers in the group below. The wins were impressive enough that they soared into the KenPom top 100 (#88). However, the problem is that Nebraska has only two RPI top-100 wins and a very weak SOS. As a result, Nebraska's RPI is only #157. The Huskers may be playing like a much better team than they did two weeks ago, but it appears that they have dug themselves too deep of a hole from them to climb out of.
Penn State, Illinois, Minnesota, and Rutgers: All four have RPI and KenPom ranks in the triple digits, indicating their resumes are bad and they shouldn't get any better.