Coming into the season, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team was predicted to finish closer to the bottom of the Big Ten than the top. If people thought they were going to make the NCAA Tournament, they thought they’d be on the bubble all the way until Selection Sunday. However, Wisconsin have played far above expectations and, as such, have played themselves right into ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracket.
Lunardi has the 2021 Maui Invitational champs as one of the last four byes! Recent opponents Saint Mary’s (last four in) and Providence (next four out) are also right on the bubble.
In his projections, Lunardi places Wisconsin in the East Bracket as the No. 10 seed. Their first round game would be in Pittsburgh, Pa. and their opponent would be the No. 7 seeded Auburn Tigers. The other matchup in their pod would be the No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats vs. the No. 15 Vermont Catamounts. The regional semifinals and finals would be in Philadelphia.
The Big Ten leads the nation with nine teams in the tourney including:
No. 1 seed Purdue Boilermakers
No. 4 seed Michigan Wolverines
No. 5 seed Michigan State Spartans
No. 6 seed Ohio State Buckeyes
No. 6 seed Illinois Fighting Illini
No. 7 seed Indiana Hoosiers
No. 9 seed Maryland Terrapins
No. 10 seed Iowa Hawkeyes
Wisconsin claimed its first-ever Maui Invitational championship, and became the first Big Ten school to win the tournament since 2012 pic.twitter.com/gHX7dwWCOS— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) November 26, 2021
The Big Ten has had a rough start to the season in the non-conference but overall they’re still the best conference in the country. I don’t know if they’ll end up with nine teams in the tournament come March, but there certainly won’t be any questions about their strength of schedule after playing through the Big Ten.