Having completed the most challenging portion of its schedule, No. 23 Northwestern women’s basketball (17-3, 7-2 B1G) is in solid standing heading into the final month of regular season play.
While the Wildcats fought hard for a much-wanted win at now 17th-ranked Maryland last weekend, the 70-61 loss to break their five-game win-streak was only a minor blow in the grand scheme of the season. Northwestern dropped just one spot to 23rd in the nation thanks to the impressive resume it maintains from early on this year.
Additionally, as the women’s basketball world appears to recognize, a road loss to a top-20 team and the powerhouse Terrapins is excusable, and the Wildcats certainly have earned the respect that they are finally receiving on a national scale.
Northwestern’s well-earned reputation is thanks to the many resume-building wins the ‘Cats have added this season. They have five wins against top-50 RPI teams (Duke, Marquette, Maryland, Purdue and Indiana), two wins against ranked teams (No. 12 Maryland and No. 15 Indiana on overtime on the road), only three losses and have been ranked two weeks in a row.
Those three losses came to No. 16 DePaul by just two points, to No. 20 Maryland by just nine points (a score that looks worse than it was) and to a now 18th-ranked Iowa team who has proved to be top competitor in the conference and nation.
With all of that said, it’s time to get to what the bracketologists see. All in all, it’s a pretty promising picture.
ESPN’s Charlie Creme: No. 4 Seed
ESPN’s resident women women’s bracketologist has the Wildcats moving up week by week, even after the loss to Maryland. After earning a top-five seeding last week, Northwestern is now a projected four-seed and would face 13-seed Rider, the automatic bid from the MAAC. Creme also has the Wildcats hosting the first two rounds of the tournament in Evanston, meeting Arizona in the second round and potentially Baylor in the Sweet Sixteen if seeds were to hold.
While Northwestern was his automatic bid and projected Big Ten champion as of last week, Iowa stole the recognition in Tuesday’s rankings. However, Creme’s continual respect for the ‘Cats shows his recognition of them as a true conference and national contender.
FanSided’s Russell Steinberg: No. 4 Seed
In his latest bracketology article last week, Steinberg called the Big Ten “the deepest league in the country” with nine teams qualifying in his book. Indiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio State, Maryland, Purdue, Rutgers and Northwestern all made the cut with the Wildcats and the Hoosiers ranked highest as four-seeds.
Steinberg also has the ‘Cats hosting the first two rounds in Evanston, where they would face No. 13 seed Marist. Though things obviously changed over the past week of action, Steinberg, who has been the most accurate bracketologist on the women’s side over the past two years, told us on Twitter that he would not be changing Northwestern’s seed.
I think Northwestern is a pretty undeniable host right now. I'll be updating tomorrow, but as of now they are the top 4 seed on my list.— Russell Steinberg (@Russ_Steinberg) January 28, 2020
RealTimeRPI.com: No. 3 Seed
RealTimeRPI.com has the ‘Cats ranked higher than any other expert as a three-seed in the tournament and 15th in the overall standings. The RPI rankings favor the Big Ten with eight teams qualifying – more than any other conference in the country – and Maryland earning a conference-high two-seed. In their bracket, the Wildcats would face SF Austin in the Lexington region.
The Wildcats are in an ideal spot heading into the remainder of their regular season schedule. They will continue Big Ten play on Thursday, when they will host the Michigan Wolverines (13-6, 4-4). The game tips off at 7:00 p.m. CST on BTN+ and can be heard on WNUR Sports.