Let’s Talk Seeds February 10, 2013
Seriously, let’s talk NCAA Tournament seeds. This team – this picked 9th in the B1G before the season, holy crap we’re really good, wait, they are who we thought they were team – is probably going dancing.
No, I’m really being serious here. I want to talk about our possible seeds. First, we revisit The Path To Nine Wins:
at Purdue W (-1)
Ohio State L (even)
Minnesota L (even)
at Wisconsin L (even)
Northwestern W (-1)
at Nebraska W (-1)
Michigan L (-1)
at Michigan State L (-1)
Wisconsin W (-2)
Indiana L (-1)
at Minnesota L (even)
at Northwestern W
Penn State W
at Michigan L
at Iowa W
at Ohio State L
But what have we learned since early January? That eight Big Ten wins locked us in the tournament. And what did we learn after Thursday? That guys like Andy Katz think we’re squarely in the tournament with a 20-13 (7-11) record, given our wins over Butler, and Gonzaga, and Ohio State, and Indiana.
And Minnesota. That’s five, count ‘em, five top-25 RPI wins. Remember, the committee’s #1 thing: WHO did you beat? The RPI isn’t used as a “they’re the 14th best team” thing – it’s used to see what solid teams you beat (or what awful teams you lost to). Right now, we have five – FIVE – wins over the top-18 in the RPI.
Which probably means this: beat Purdue, Penn State, and Nebraska at home, and we dance. That’s it. It’s not a comfortable selection Sunday, especially if we go out in the first round of the BTT. But I have to think that 20-13 is in with these five wins.
Still not convinced? Well, I did some quick research (I can never remember how close Lunardi’s RPI is to the actual RPI, but that’s what I used), and here’s the RPI top-25 wins nationally:
Michigan State 3
New Mexico 3
Everyone else 2 or less.
I just can’t stress enough how important 5 – FIVE – RPI Top-25 wins are. Some team will have two all season and get a 5 seed. And we have five. With only one 100+ loss (Purdue).
OK, fine, Minnesota tanks and is no longer a top-25 RPI team, or we stun absolutely no one and lose to Purdue on Wednesday. Fine, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. But I’m comfortable enough after tonight’s win – OVER #18 MINNESOTA AT MINNESOTA – to talk about seeds. Because it’s highly likely that we’re going dancing.
First, I’ll say that the most likely outcome for the next seven games would be a 4-3 finish. Beat Purdue, Penn State, and Nebraska at home, lose at Michigan and at Ohio State, and then split at Northwestern and at Iowa. 4-3 finish means 8-10 means 21-12 even with a first round BTT tournament loss. That, I’d guess, would be on the 8/9 line. Win a BTT game and maybe sneak a 7 seed. Remember, one bad loss, five great ones. Most will boggle at our seed on Selection Sunday and say things like “they weren’t even .500 in their conference” when it’s announced. Can’t wait.
Best case scenario is probably a 5-2 finish to the Big Ten and two BTT wins (can’t see us winning it, or even making the final, and with a 9-9 finish we’re probably the #7 seed). So best case I’ll say is 24-11. 24-11, .500 in conference, top-10 strength of schedule, two of our five top-25 wins were true road games – I think that could squeak out a six seed. Maybe even something crazy like a five seed. Solidly at least a seven.
Worst case scenario? We just finished a week that saw us beat #1 at home and #18 on the road. I am physically incapable of writing about worst case scenarios right now.
But I will put up my first seed-range chart of the year. Somewhere between our best case scenario and missing the tournament. With this deep Big Ten, I won’t put two Big Ten Tournament wins in any of these scenarios. If we’re that #7 seed, and we beat the #10, we’d have to play #2 (Michigan? Indiana?) in the second round. Not very likely we win that game.
So here we go.
20-13 (7-11 with 0-1 BTT): 12 seed (maybe play-in)
21-13 (7-11 with 1-1 BTT): 11 seed
21-12 (8-10 with 0-1 BTT): 10 seed
22-12 (8-10 with 1-1 BTT): 9 seed
22-11 (9-9 with 0-1 BTT): 8 seed
23-11 (9-9 with 1-1 BTT): 7 seed
I know, I know – way too early to do this. Way too big of a range. 20 wins is a 12 seed but 23 is a 7? Come on, Robert – those are closer to our Big Ten Tournament seed ranges. Yeah, don’t care right now. We just beat #1 and #18. Last second shot at home then a wake-the-dog dagger three on the road. It’s my dance and I can seed if I want to.
One more thing. I’m such a sucker for a redemption story. So with Tyler hitting 4-7 three pointers and DJ hitting 3-5 to lead us to a road victory over #18 Minnesota three days after those same two much-maligned players led us to a home victory over #1 Indiana, I’m absolutely over the moon. Couldn’t be happier for those two guys.
Your turn, Brandon.