The league race is sorting itself out. The bigger question, though—the Big Dance—remains up in the air.
Five teams are in good shape. Barring major collapses, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota and Northwestern are mainly concerned about seeding. It won’t be a great year in that area; whether the Big Ten cracks the top 16 seeds is an open question.
The big NCAA questions are with bubble teams Michigan and Michigan State, who both need strong finishes. The Wolverines will need to play well on the road, where they have struggled. And the Spartans will need to soldier on after losing another player to a knee injury.
CBSsports.com bracketologist Jerry Palm’s latest Big Ten seeding predictions (as of Monday, Feb. 20): Purdue 4, Wisconsin 5, Maryland 6, Minnesota 6, Northwestern 7, Michigan 9, Michigan State 10.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had it like this: Purdue 4, Wisconsin 5, Maryland 6, Minnesota 8, Northwestern 8, Michigan 9, Michigan State 10.
In the league race, I’d give a slight edge to Wisconsin, based on schedule. But I would give a more significant edge to Purdue, based on the way the teams are playing.
Maryland is lurking, especially if it can halt Minnesota’s five-game winning streak. At two games back with four to go, Northwestern is not in the hunt for the Big Ten. But its first-ever NCAA bid is more than enough of a prize. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.