Quick Takes: Bubble trouble in Big Ten
If not before, the Indiana Hoosiers are officially in bubble trouble after Thursday’s home loss to Purdue. It’s not the individual defeat, it’s the collective profile IU has compiled since beating North Carolina at home on November 30. Since that point, the Hoosiers have beaten one team – Michigan State – that held an at-large spot in Thursday’s bracket. And the Spartans were among the last four teams with a bye. Whether you appreciate the RPI or not, Indiana’s RPI is hovering around 80 this morning. They are 5-7 in the Big Ten and 1-5 in road games (2-7 away from home overall). There’s time to re-right the ship, so to speak, but the Hoosiers finish with four of six games on the road.
The aforementioned Spartans have a better RPI, but a similarly mediocre profile heading into the home stretch. What they lack are IU’s marquee early wins; MSU beat Wichita State. Within the league, Michigan State owns a sweep of Minnesota and home wins over Northwestern and Michigan. If there’s an edge, it’s that MSU closes with four of seven at home. Could this be a year in which both Michigan State and Indiana miss the NCAA tournament? The answer is an uncertain, but possible, yes.
A couple of final thoughts:
- Minnesota has won two straight (Illinois, Iowa) after a five-game skid. The Gophers are still 5-6 in the B10, so they need a strong finish.
- Northwestern is supposed to have Scottie Lindsey back this weekend as the Wildcats head to Wisconsin. A loss to the Badgers would put some added pressure on follow-up home dates against Maryland and Rutgers. If two losses turns into four or five, bubble tension will build in Evanston.
- Michigan has some solid notches on its resume but the Wolverines are 0-6 in road games this season. They close with 5 of 7 on the road. On the surface, that appears a bit ominous.
- Whether Ohio State can stay within earshot, or someone else can re-emerge, remains to be seen.
If you’re optimistic, there’s this: the current collection of bubble teams as a whole is uninspiring, and the NCAA Selection Committee will select 36 at-large teams.