February is nearly here and the race toward the madness of March is beginning to heat up. Key conference match ups are hitting us nearly every night, and the picture is starting to show which teams will be in and which team will be out come Selection Sunday. Here’s a look at the latest bracketology release to show you just where the Badgers and other teams are trending as we creep closer to the big dance.
Just last week the Badgers were up to a 6-seed in the release, but after losing two of their last three contest the Wisconsin squad appears to be trending downward. In the latest release the Badgers are now listed as a 7-seed in the East region where the would take on last year’s national runner up in the Texas Tech Red Raiders. On the other side of their cluster is the 2-seeded Seton Hall Pirates taking on William & Mary.
It appears that despite their recent struggles the Badgers are still in a position to make the NCAA Tournament which probably comes as a surprise to most of the Wisconsin faithful. However, that comfort can disappear quickly if the Badgers are not able to right the ship. Over the next month the Badgers take on six teams currently positioned in the NCAA tournament.
Three of those games are against teams that are firmly on the bubble in Purdue, Michigan, and Minnesota. How those games go will likely make or break the Badgers postseason hopes.
Big Ten Report
As a whole the Big Ten conference is looking great as the calendar heads toward March. 12 teams are currently in the NCAA tournament according to the latest release, which is seven more than the next closest conference. However, as mentioned above, a few teams are playing on the bubble currently. Minnesota is listed in the last four in column, while Michigan and Purdue are listed as a last four bye team which means they would be part of the last four teams to avoid the First Four play in games.
Leading the conference is once again the Michigan State Spartans who are listed as a 3-seed. The next highest team is the Iowa Hawkeyes who are currently the 5-seed in the in Midwest Region. Then comes the jumble of mid tier Big Ten teams in Penn State (6), Illinois (6), and Rutgers (7). With such a tight group of teams all positioned in one area of seeds, the conference could really come down to the wire.
The biggest surprise currently is the dominance of the Big 12 conference. The Baylor Bears recently overtook the Gonzaga Bulldogs as the top overall seed, and appear to be one strong candidate for the Final Four. They currently hold one of the best wins in the country as they defeated the No. 3 ranked Kansas Jayhawks in Lawerence back in January. The Jayhawks also sit as a one seed, but can improve their mark as they square off with Baylor and No. 12 ranked West Virginia over the next month.
The Mountaineers are currently a 2-seed but have plenty of opportunity to strike as they take on Kansas and Baylor twice over the next month. Whoever comes out on top in the Big 12 will likely enter the dance as the tournaments top seed.
Region I’d most like to watch?
Right now the best region to watch would be the Greensboro, North Carolina region. In one cluster you have the Penn State Nittany Lions taking on East Tennessee State. The winner of that game would take on the winner of Duke/Colgate. Not exactly a murder’s row, but a Duke/Penn State second round game would be pretty solid. On the other side Auburn would take on the winner of VCU/Memphis. Whoever comes out of that would take on the winner of Maryland/Stephen F. Austin. Each of those are quality teams, but an Auburn/Maryland second round game would be must see television early on.
Worst possible Final Four?
Duke, Villanova, Auburn and Michigan State. Just no. Please no. That Final Four is really gross and very possible in this latest release. I can’t think of something I would want to watch less than Duke and Villanova in a title game match up. Sorry Wildcats, you we’re fun for awhile but I’m tired of watching you play in the big ones. You live long enough to become the villain right?
Best possible Final Four?
Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia and Seton Hall. Let’s let the Big 12 fight to the death if one can get past the Pirates. At this point these teams are playing some the best basketball so I am all for it.