Just last week Wisconsin basketball was dropping down in the latest release of Joe Lunardi’s bracket for ESPN. In the Jan. 15 release, the Badgers were the 3-seed in region four. After two straight wins over Rutgers and Northwestern, it appears Wisconsin has gotten back into the good graces of Lunardi as they jumped up an entire seed line over the course of the week. Let's take a look to see where the Badgers are currently seeded.
In the January 22nd release of Lunardi’s bracket, the Badgers are currently listed as the 2-seed in region one. In their first-round matchup Wisconsin would be slated to take on the Vikings of Cleveland State (sidebar, is there a rich history of Vikings in the Cleveland area that I do not know of; double sidebar, Cleveland is not a state...freaking Ohio). If the Badgers were to advance in their 2/15 matchup they would be taking on the winner of the 7/10 game between Clemson and Seton Hall.
If the Badgers were able to advance to the Sweet 16 they would likely land a date with the 3-seeded Kansas Jayhawks. Anything can happen after that, but the heavy favorite to meet them in the Elite 8 would be the nation's top team and top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs who have yet to be challenged much on the court.
Big Ten Breakdown
The Big Ten appears to be still standing strong with 10 teams currently in the projected field, three more than the Big 12 who has seven currently. Michigan still leads the way as the top seed in region three followed by Iowa and Wisconsin as 2-seeds. Illinois and Ohio State are currently listed as 4-seeds with Minnesota right behind them on the 5-seed line.
Purdue has been surging of late and now finds themselves on the 7-seed line with in-state rivals Indiana behind them on the 10-seed line. Rounding out the conference is Rutgers on the 11-seed line as one of the last four byes, and Michigan State currently listed as an 11-seed as one of the last four in. Maryland is currently listed as one of the first four out.
Story Line to Watch
One of the crazy things of note when looking at these brackets is the traditional blue bloods all currently struggling to make the dance. As mentioned above Michigan State is one of the last four teams in, and North Carolina is in a similar boat as one of the last four bye teams. Duke is part of the next four out-group and Kentucky is already planning their trips to Cabo! File that under things you hate to see my friends!
Another story line to watch is a more simple one, but one many college basketball pundits are struggling to answer. Who is actually good this year? With so many traditional blue bloods out on the season it’s hard to get a read on teams that are actually Final Four material. Gonzaga is a clear cut favorite with Baylor right up there, but after that, the water does get a bit murky. Sure, Villanova and Michigan are one seeds but they don’t scare you as much as the top two and that is coming from a man who just watched Michigan blow the doors of the Badgers a few weeks ago.
Further down the likes of Wisconsin, Iowa, Houston and Texas are the two seeds but they don’t exactly inspire confidence at the moment. Wisconsin can be shaky in every contest, and Iowa just got stomped by Indiana at home. Texas appears pretty strong as does Houston, but they’ve still got some big games to be played. Overall, this field appears wide open for a lot of teams. There are some top-heavy teams in Gonzaga and Baylor but it seems to me that this thing is still anyone's ballgame. If there were ever a year for a dark horse to make a run, this will be it.