January is coming to a close, and conference basketball is really starting to heat up. The Badgers are rising, while other teams are falling left and right in one of the wackiest college basketball seasons in recent memory. Here’s week three of the Bracketology report!
After being listed as a 7-seed in the East a week ago, the Badgers rose to the six line in this latest Bracketology release. That would send the Badgers to the East region where they would take on Oklahoma in the Albany, New York pod. This appears to be a favorable spot for Wisconsin if it were to hold, as the winner would take on the winner of a 3/14 seed match up. The current three seeds are West Virginia, Louisville, Butler and Seton Hall, so in an ideal world you’d like to end up with Seton Hall or Butler as a second round match up instead of Louisville and West Virginia.
If Wisconsin was able to escape the first weekend they’d earn a date with now a now 2-seed Duke Blue Devils. In each of the three releases the Badgers would likely get Duke in the second weekend, so it appears it is destiny.
Big Ten Report
The Big Ten continues to lead the race for most teams in the dance. Once again the conference has 11 teams in the current projections, which is five more than any other conference in the country. Currently Michigan State leads the way as a 2-seed, while Maryland comes listed as a four. Ohio State and Michigan continue to trend downward as each team has fallen to the six line in their region.
As it currently sits, all six seeds are possessed by Big Ten teams with Rutgers grabbing the fourth spot. That right there should give you a good snapshot of what is happening in the Big Ten right now. Lastly, Purdue and Minnesota appear to be right on the bubble as the Boilermakers are listed as one of the last four in, while Minnesota is listed as one of the last four out.
This is somewhat repetitive but I think it is again worth noting weeks later. The blue-bloods of college basketball continue to struggle while teams in mid-major conferences continue to rise to the top seeds. Gonzaga is currently listed as the tournament’s top seed and will likely remain there for some time as I don’t see a snag in their schedule anytime soon. Baylor is the next team to climb to the 1-seed line and could make an argument for the tournament’s top spot with the way they are playing.
Blue-blood Kansas is also on the one line, but the other is San Diego State out West. Of the four top seeded teams, only Kansas is close to a traditional powerhouse of college basketball. The two seeds of Michigan State and Duke bring back some of the traditional power, but it is once again mitigated when you look at the other two seed of Dayton. How the committee debates record vs strength of schedule for some of these teams in lower tier conferences will be fascinating to watch as the year goes on.
Region I’d most like to watch?
If I were buying a ticket to anywhere the opening weekend I would probably head down to St. Louis for the weekend. In one cluster you have Michigan taking on St. Mary’s in a battle to square off with the winner of Butler and UC Irvine. In the other cluster you have Ohio State taking on USC for a likely battle with Louisville. If chalk holds you’d have Michigan/Butler and Ohio State/Louisville in the second round which would be quality basketball early in the dance.
Worst possible Final Four?
Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan. Obviously come tournament time I root for the Big Ten but this Final Four would be best defined as tired. It seems like one of two of these teams is there every year and I really don’t want to see it again.
Best possible Final Four?
Louisville, Gonzaga, Baylor, and San Diego State. With the chalk lines being home to lesser known teams it creates a lot of cool scenarios. I personally think Baylor and Lousiville are playing some of the best pure basketball right now, so I would like to see those teams get there. I promise it doesn’t have anything to do with me having a nice future bet on Louisville sitting here on my desk from October. (Editor’s note: pics or it didn’t happen.)