1. Will Indiana get a No. 1 seed in the Field of 68 even with a loss here?
I think so, yes, because the Hoosiers ended up as the outright champions of the nation's toughest league, and that should be worth a top seed regardless of what happens in Chicago. Indiana is 8-3 against the top 25 of the RPI with zero losses outside of the top 45. That's a strong resume, one that should earn them a No. 1 seed. In fact, my opinion is that Indiana and Gonzaga should already be locked-in as top seeds, and that everybody else -- Louisville, Georgetown, Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, Michigan, etc., -- ought to be playing for the other two slots. But, like always, we'll see.
2. How many Big Ten schools will make the NCAA tournament?
Our bracketologist, Jerry Palm, says seven, and I think that's right almost regardless of what happens in Chicago. But keep an eye on Iowa. The Hawkeyes have an RPI of 77, which isn't ideal. But they did finish sixth in the Big Ten (ahead of Illinois and Minnesota), and they do have four top-50 victories. Wins over Northwestern on Thursday and Michigan State on Friday would give them a total of 22 victories and a fifth over a power-conference school projected to make the Field of 68, and that just might be good enough.
3. So Minnesota is safe?
The Gophers have wins over Indiana, Michigan State, Memphis, Wisconsin and Illinois, and that should be enough for them to remain on the right side of the bubble even with a loss Thursday to Illinois. But I wouldn't test it if I were Tubby Smith because two of those wins came before January, and the truth is that Minnesota has lost 10 of its past 15 games. The Gophers aren't spiraling, exactly. But they are limping. And that's not a good look for a team that was, once upon a time, ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll.
Schedule: All games at United Center in Chicago. March 14 (first round); March 15 (quarterfinals); March 16 (semifinals); March 17 (title game).
Title game: Sunday, March 17, at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
FIVE BEST PLAYERS
- Trey Burke (Michigan)
- Aaron Craft (Ohio State)
- Victor Oladipo (Indiana)
- Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State)
- Cody Zeller (Indiana)
Conference RPI: 2
KenPom.com rating: 1
Sagarin rating: 1