The finale was a clunker -- or perhaps just a wrong-team-wrong-time matchup -- but Wisconsin's 2014 regular season was quite rosy. A 25-6 (12-6 Big Ten) campaign gave the Badgers a tremendous March resume, featuring non-conference wins over Florida, Virginia, Saint Louis before several major Big Ten victories.
After Sunday's games, the field for the 2014 Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis is set. As the No. 2 seed, Wisconsin gets Thursday off before facing the winner of No. 7 Minnesota and No. 10 Penn State at 5:30 p.m. CT Friday.
No. 1 Michigan (23-7, 15-3 Big Ten)
Michigan enters the Big Ten tournament on a five-game winning streak, capped most recently by an 84-80 win over Indiana on Saturday. Impressively, the Wolverines won the conference by two games despite losing Mitch McGary before conference play even began.
No. 2 Wisconsin (25-6, 12-6 Big Ten)
Losing to Nebraska stung, but the Badgers seemed primed for a deep tourney run -- and potentially a second one later this month. With seven top-50 RPI wins, it seems feasible that at least one win this weekend will clinch a No. 2 NCAA tournament seed for Wisconsin. The only question then is will the Badgers get to open regional play in Milwaukee?
No. 3 Michigan State (23-8, 12-6 Big Ten)
The Spartans enter the conference tournament having lost three of their last four, and seven of their last 12 following an 18-1 start to the season. MSU does have six top-50 RPI wins, and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament seems likely presuming the Spartans manage at least one win in Indianapolis.
vs. Wisconsin in 2014: 0-1 (Feb. 9: L, 60-58)
No. 4 Nebraska (19-11, 11-7 Big Ten)
The Huskers earned a first-round bye in Indy with the win over Wisconsin, and early bracketology has them likely to make the NCAA tournament, particularly with a win this weekend. Nebraska will draw Ohio State on Friday (presuming the Buckeyes take care of Purdue), whom it went 1-1 against in the regular season.
vs. Wisconsin in 2014: 1-0 (March 9: W, 77-68)
No. 5 Ohio State (23-8, 10-8 Big Ten)
Ohio State won four of its last six games, though the two losses came consecutively in late February/early March to Penn State and Indiana. Though the Buckeyes handled Michigan State in the regular-season finale, Nebraska's win over Wisconsin gave the Huskers the No. 4 seed and first-round bye.
vs. Wisconsin in 2014: 1-0 (Feb. 1: W, 59-58)
No. 6 Iowa (20-11, 9-9 Big Ten)
After its Feb. 18 game at Indiana was postponed due to falling ceiling parts at Assembly Hall, Iowa dropped five of its last six games. The only win there came March 2 vs. Purdue, though all five of those losses came by no more than 10 points.
No. 7 Minnesota (19-12, 8-10 Big Ten)
After dismantling Penn State, 81-63, on Sunday, the Gophers get the Nittany Lions once again on Thursday. Minnesota's firmly on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, with both the most recent ESPN and CBS Sports bracketology having the Gophers among the first four teams out.
No. 8 Indiana (17-14, 7-11)
A disappointing rebuilding year for the Hoosiers ended with two straight losses. Indiana's likely out of the NCAA tournament barring a run this weekend.
No. 9 Illinois (18-13, 7-11 Big Ten)
The Illini managed to end another disappointing season on a solid note, winning four of its last five, including victories over Nebraska, Michigan State and Iowa.
No. 10 Penn State (15-16, 6-12 Big Ten)
After dropping its regular-season finale to Minnesota, Penn State faces the Gophers again on Thursday.
vs. Wisconsin in 2014: 0-1 (March 2: L, 71-66)
No. 11 Northwestern (13-18, 6-12 Big Ten)
A regular season-closing win at Purdue snapped a seven-game losing skid, but now Northwestern must face Iowa on Thursday.
No. 12 Purdue (15-16, 5-13 Big Ten)
Purdue lost its last six, and now faces Ohio State for the right to face top-seeded Michigan in Indianapolis. How much longer does Matt Painter have with the Boilermakers?