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The Big Ten is one of the strongest conferences in college basketball every season, and this year is no exception. Heading into March, the Big Ten currently has seven teams in my latest projected field.
Michigan State is a championship contender in this wide-open season, and the Spartans are leading the way for the Big Ten, currently sitting on the one seed line in the West region.
Iowa, losers of four straight, has fallen from the one line down to a five seed. Their RPI has taken a hit as well, now down to 28. The Hawkeyes can rally and improve their seed, but they need to right the ship as soon as possible.
Maryland is also going through struggles as of late. Losers of three of their last four, they need the play of star guard Melo Trimble to return to form in order to be a viable contender in the field.
Both Iowa and Maryland are benefiting from the overall parity in college basketball this year, so the door is certainly still open for either of them to move back up into the two seed range, but they will need a signature win or two in the Big Ten Tournament to make that happen.
Current Big Ten frontrunner Indiana might seem overlooked to some, but the Hoosiers are currently 105th in strength of schedule, a significant factor to consider when taking their impressive 24-6 record into consideration.
Wisconsin's remarkable turnaround, from 9-9 to a near-lock in the tournament, has been one of the more impressive stories of the season. Left for dead in mid-January after another bad loss (at Northwestern), the Badgers ripped off ten wins in 11 games and are now part of a logjam tied for second in the Big Ten.
Michigan and Ohio State are the Big Ten’s two true bubble teams, both benefiting from a relatively weak bubble this season. Michigan is one of my last four teams in the field, while Ohio State lies in my “next four out.” Both will need a solid showing in the Big Ten Tournament to feel any sense of security on Selection Sunday.
Stay tuned to @ScoutBrackets on Twitter as I continue to react to the ever-changing outlook for the NCAA tournament.