Northwestern (14-8, 4-6): A solid week with a win at home over Nebraska and on the road at Illinois has the Wildcats’ tournament hopes alive. With a game at home against Iowa and at Purdue this week, Northwestern could move to 6-6 in league play and into the tournament picture by next week.
Big Ten Games with NCAA Tournament Implications
Northwestern at Purdue, 6:00 Sunday: A win could possibly propel the Wildcats onto the right side of the bubble and a loss for the Boilermakers could push them out of the projected field. This is a huge one for both sides.
Illinois at Indiana, 8:00 Thursday: If the Fighting Illini are going to safely hop off the bubble, they’re going to need a solid road win or two down the stretch. With three of their last four road games at Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin, this could be one of their best shots. The Hoosiers have lost just one game at home this season but their below average defense could help Illinois’ struggling offense.
And to top things off, we’ll take a look at one national game or storyline from the week before that could have a dramatic impact on the NCAA Tournament picture.
With the many ways to try to predict who will get into the Tournament come March, things can get pretty confusing at times. RPI, strength of schedule, body of work, top 50 wins… Buzz words and metrics fly around and it’s tough not to feel like you’re in math class. Basketball Prospectus’ Dan Hanner discovered a simple metric designed to simplify the process.
In his article “How to End Bubble Speculation in Eight Words”, Drew Cannon gives this simple eight-word equation: “Add a team’s KenPom rank to their RPI.” Cannon has used the equation since 2007 and has had remarkable results. Last year, the equation predicted 66 of the 68 teams correctly. According to Cannon’s current rankings, Northwestern would be the last team in with an “EBS” (Easiest Bubble Solver) of 115. So if you find yourself frustrated with all the number crunching, give Cannon’s equation a shot. It’s hard to argue with the results, which are surely as good as any at this point in time.