While the Big Ten tournament didn’t go exactly as planned for No. 12 Northwestern women’s basketball (26-4, 16-2 B1G), its national reputation saw little change even after a tough first round defeat.
The ‘Cats climbed to a two-seed a few weeks ago, but they were slotted as the top three seed headed into last week’s tournament and maintained the same seeding following the loss to Michigan, helped by the defeat coming in the form of their third matchup on a neutral site with a clear tournament team.
While each bracketologist seeded Northwestern similarly, its opponents and region placement varied drastically among experts. With selection Monday less than a week away, NU anxiously awaits its first-round opponent in Evanston as it hopes to play into April for the second year in a row.
Here are the experts’ final predictions before the official bracket is released next week:
Russell Steinberg of High Post Hoops: #3 seed
Sternberg, the most reliable bracketology option, placed Northwestern as a three-seed in his final bracket prediction, facing the team off against 14-seed Montana State in the first round. If the ‘Cats advance, they would play the winner of six-seed Florida State and 11-seed Iowa State in Evanston before traveling to Greenville, South Carolina for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.
NU would potentially face teams like two-seed UCLA in later rounds, and would likely have to take on one-seed South Carolina (the top-ranked team in the nation) to make it to New Orleans.
Other Big Ten teams: Maryland (#1), Iowa (#4), Indiana (#5), Ohio State (#6), Rutgers (#7), Michigan (#8), Purdue (#10)
ESPN’s Charlie Creme: #3 seed
Creme also has the Wildcats as a three-seed where they will face off against 14-seed Bucknell, the likely Patriot League champions (TBD this weekend). They would then advance to face the winner of six-seed Princeton and 11-seed Tennessee before traveling to Portland for the next two rounds.
In Portland, the ‘Cats would likely be staring down two-seed UConn to reach the Elite Eight, and would probably be going up against Sabrina Ionescu and the best offense in the country in a de facto home game for Oregon to determine Final Four placement.
Other Big Ten teams: Maryland (#1), Iowa (#4), Indiana (#5), Ohio State (#6), Michigan (#8), Rutgers (#9), Purdue (#10)
RealTimeRPI.com: #3 seed
Finally, RealTimeRPI.com also ranked Northwestern as a three-seed heading into Selection Monday. The ‘Cats would face 14-seed Fresno State in the first round before playing either six-seed Marquette or 11-seed South Dakota in Evanston in the round of 32. Northwestern defeated Marquette back in November in a 64-56 overtime victory, though, and would thus likely not be placed in their initial foursome.
The site’s seeding, because it is based solely on RPI and not opponent constraints, leaves something to be desired, as it also has Northwestern in the Fort Wayne region of the bracket with conference foe Maryland, which is forbidden unless necessary based on outside circumstances.
Other Big Ten teams: Maryland (#1), Indiana (#3), Iowa (#4), Ohio State (#4), Michigan (#7), Purdue (#8), Rutgers (#10)