Northwestern NCAA Tournament Bracketology Update, February 24, 2011

Bracket matrix: 11.7 seed, 70 out of 82 brackets (not updated)

Kenpom: 56 (down from 54, passed by UCLA and South Dakota State)

RPI: 48 (down from 47, passed by South Florida)

Sagarin: 55, (down from 53 yesterday, passed by VCU and NC State)

Big Ten standings: Eighth, first round opponent Minnesota (same as yesterday)

In or out, consensus: In, but razor-thin margin for error

Feeling: Nervous breakdown. Northwestern, currently, is .3 inches to the left of the line that says you're in the NCAA Tournament. I currently expect Northwestern to do things to end up six miles to the right of that sign out of past experience. This is hellish. The attention is fun, but nerve-wracking. Northwestern obviously has to win tomorrow night against Penn State (and do other stuff) to make the tourney - as hateful as the term "must-win" is, I think even Loretta - he of the real-life name, please don't fire him Loretta's boss! - and I can agree on this.

Last night wasn't the best night for hate-interests - Alabama and Cincinnati stayed in the tourney with wins, although a loss to BYU was absolutely great - but even more worrisome is what happened in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes knocked off Wisconsin for the season-sweep last night, adding the Badgers to a list of teams to recently fall in Carver-Hawkeye that already included ranked Michigan and Indiana squads. The worry here isn't necessarily that Iowa will take Northwestern's tourney slot - they had an awful non-conference schedule - but a) that could hypothetically happen if they continue this tear and b) Northwestern has to play them, in Iowa. I had written off that team, but if Matt Gatens shoots like he did last night, going 7-of-10 from downtown and finishing with 33, well, they are not to be written off. That worries me immensely.

Take the night off from worrying tonight - not sure if Loretta has anything planned, but tonight isn't awfully bubbly - we'll need our anxiety tomorrow.

Other bracketology news: Not much - apparently Friday is an off-day for bracketologists so they can spend their entire weekend in front of the set.

UPDATE: SBN's Chris Dobbertean's Bubble Watch is out, and he has Northwestern as the third-to-last team in. He cites everybody else screwing up:

By all rights, the Wildcats should currently be on the outside looking in, but results elsewhere see them just hanging on, thanks primarily to wins over Michigan State and Seton Hall, excellent computer numbers, and an absence of bad losses. (Seriously, very few teams can claim such a spotless mark against teams from outside of the RPI Top 100 this season.)

But click the link, because it's really thorough, great analysis of the whole field.

ANOTHER UPDATE: CBS' Jerry Palm released a new bracket today, and while his Monday update had Northwestern as one of the last four in, he now has Northwestern as just a regular old 12 seed, with Washington, Colorado State, Iowa State, and Texas as the last four in. Interesting stuff, and really encouraging.

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