We've finally crossed the point in the season where we can say without reservation that Wisconsin is tournament-bound. It feels good, doesn't it?
It seemed to be a foregone conclusion two months ago that two treasured streaks would come to an end this season, yet the Badgers have rallied to extend both. Armed with a freshly-minted head coach, Wisconsin is playing with confidence despite a setback to Purdue on Sunday.
As we review various opponents' impact on the Badgers' NCAA tournament resume, finally we're looking through the lens of March Madness seeding scenarios and not how their win and losses might affect UW getting a bid.
Western Illinois (10-17) Out
Forever an anchor on Wisconsin this season, Western Illinois managed to pick up a few more conference wins in the last month, but the Leathernecks still are No. 257 in the RPI. Three of the team's wins were over non-Division I foes this year.
Georgetown (14-17) Out
Instead of making a run at the bubble Georgetown has completely collapsed. The Hoyas lost their final six Big East games entering tonight's conference tournament opening against DePaul. Though ranked No. 70 by Ken Pomeroy, Georgetown has turned into another loss for Wisconsin outside the RPI Top 100 (No. 103). The loss drags on Wisconsin's resume a little, but at least UW isn't Monmouth, which once touted wins at UCLA and Georgetown as proof of its tournament readiness.
VCU (22-9) - Bubblicious
The Rams had the outright Atlantic 10 title within their grasp, but lost a heartbreaker to Dayton on the Flyers' home court this weekend. VCU settles for a three-way tie with Dayton and St. Bonaventure. While they await their next opponent in the A-10 tourney, the Rams know they need to avoid an upset to remain in the hunt for a bid. They are a projected No. 11 seed in the Bracket Matrix. Wisconsin picks up an RPI Top 50 win (No. 40) here.
No. 6 Oklahoma (24-6) - In
The Sooners stumbled to a 4-3 finish to the regular season, allowing both Kansas (of course) and West Virginia to pass them up in the big 12 standings. Yet Oklahoma is still in the running for a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. Also, Oklahoma is still the biggest contributor to Wisconsin's non-conference strength of schedule. The Badgers have a top 20 SOS overall. Thanks Sooners!
Syracuse (19-12) Bubblicious
The Orange did face a challenging stretch of season since we last reviewed them, but didn't do themselves any favors by dropping winnable games to fellow bubblers Florida State and Pittsburgh. After a 3-4 slide left Syracuse at .500 in ACC play, the Orange find themselves squarely on the bubble according to SB Nation bracketologist Chris Dobbertean. How will the committee view a team that went without Jim Boeheim but is now at "full strength"?
Temple (20-10) Bubblicious
Temple avoided any bad losses in the last month, losing only to Villanova and on the road to Tulsa. The Owls flew to a regular season conference title by going 14-4 in the American Athletic Conference and await the conference tournament gauntlet knowing they may have to win out to remain in the 68-team field. Temple may have to go through Tulsa as well as a perennial March overachiever like Connecticut or Cincinnati.
Milwaukee (20-13) - Out
UW-Milwaukee's season ended with a loss to Green Bay in the Horizon tournament Sunday, so the Panthers will be another RPI 150+ loss (No. 174) for the Badgers.
Marquette (19-12) - Out
Although the Golden Eagles appeared to be cruising toward ending their two-year tournament drought in the early going, they could not overcome a difficult closing stretch, finishing 8-10 in the Big East. The stumble at the end pushed Marquette out of the RPI Top 100 also, so MU fans can rejoice in putting that demerit on Wisconsin's record. Hope Marquette fans enjoyed Henry Ellenson while he lasted -- at least they get Wally for another year. Turns out after Providence's unraveling, Wisconsin was Marquette's biggest win of the year. Natch.
Green Bay (23-12) In
Thanks to UW-Green Bay's impressive run to win the Horizon League tournament, Wisconsin will get to count an extra win against the 2016 tournament field. We thought the second half of Greg Gard's first game was a disaster, but Green Bay can actually play a little. Congrats to the Phoenix.
No. 13 Purdue (24-7) In
The Boilermakers closed with two big wins to earn a double-bye in this week's Big Ten tournament, including the completed sweep against Wisconsin. It wasn't good to lose, but it didn't really hurt the Badgers at all.
No. 10 Indiana (25-6) In
Going 6-1 through the hardest part of your schedule is impressive no matter how you slice it. Indiana swept a crumbling Iowa team, plus beat Purdue and Maryland to clinch the undisputed Big Ten title at 15-3. The Badgers and Hoosiers can both claim they were this close to sweeping the other this season, but would both have to make the B1G championship game to meet again. The RPI doesn't love Indiana (No. 20) due to a soft conference schedule, but the Hoosiers are still a projected No. 3 seed.
No. 18 Maryland (24-7) In
When Wisconsin toppled second-ranked Maryland on Feb. 13 in College Park it seemed to expose some chinks in the Terrapins' shell. It also solidified UW as a tournament team. Turnovers have plagued the onetime wunderkind Melo Trimble as Maryland has lost four of its last six games. The Terps finally lost some of those close ones they once seemed invincible to.
Northwestern (20-11) - Out
Though the Wildcats sport an identical overall record to Wisconsin's, the Badgers have clearly been the superior squad since the mid-January hiccup. But I suppose UW should thank Chris Collins and company for helping it turn around it's season by providing a rock bottom. There's always next year, Evanston!
No. 2 Michigan State (26-5) In
The Spartans are a one-point overtime loss at Purdue away from having finished the regular season with 11 consecutive wins. Michigan State's shooting has not cooled off yet and it may never happen. Tom Izzo is also getting great post defense from Matt Costello and Deyonta Davis, however. Typical Izzo. Needless to say, a win over MSU is a huge feather in Wisconsin's cap when it comes to earning a better seed.
Ohio State (19-12) - Out
Ohio State added a Top 100 RPI win for UW, but isn't expected to make the tournament, despite a late win over Iowa. Beating Kentucky seems like it happened a long time ago for Buckeyes fans.
Michigan (20-11) Bubblicious
Wisconsin beat Michigan in the teams' only head-to-head meeting this season and the Wolverines have their work cut out for them in the postseason. They are going to need probably two wins in the Big Ten tournament this week to climb off the bubble. Home wins versus Maryland and Purdue are all Michigan has to hand its hat on.
No. 20 Iowa (21-9) In
The Hawkeyes were in the driver's seat for an outright conference title until an inexplicable four-game losing streak that pushed Iowa way down the polls. Still, winning in Iowa City was huge for Wisconsin's resume, as the Hawkeyes are still 23rd in the RPI and a projected No. 5 seed.
*Special shoutout to Texas A&M Corpus Christi which finished 15-3 in the Southland Conference. The Islanders would be favored to make the tournament if it weren't for Stephen F. Austin, which swept Texas A&M-CC and everyone else in the conference's regular season.