Northwestern’s three-game skid in Big Ten play has dropped it out of the AP Top 25 and, in tandem, placed it firmly on the bubble.
The ‘Cats will have more chances to bolster their résumé and reinforce the early season hype which saw them skyrocket from a conference sleeper to a potential tournament-bound team, but that fate firmly hangs in the balance. NU faces No. 21 Ohio State and No. 5 Iowa in its next two contests.
According to KenPom, Northwestern ranks 59th nationally in adjusted efficiency margin and has a less than 50 percent chance to win in each of its next 12 games.
Here is where the experts have placed the Wildcats, as of Sunday, January 8.
ESPN: First Four Out
Before NU’s losses to Michigan and Illinois, Joe Lunardi had placed the ‘Cats as an 11 seed facing off against North Carolina.
Alas, the last week saw the ‘Cats move out of tournament field and into the dreaded First Four Out slot.
CBS: 9 seed
CBS’s Jerry Palm placed the ‘Cats as a nine seed, where they would face off against Xavier in the Assembly Hall Region, a building in which Northwestern has already won.
The Athletic: 10 seed
We’re big fans of The Athletic here at Inside NU, and even more so now. Brian Bennett put the ‘Cats down as a 10 seed facing UConn in the Larry Bird Region.
1-3-1 Sports: First Four Out
Much like with Joe Lunardi’s projection, 1-3-1 Sports initially saw Northwestern as an 11 seed but now has the ‘Cats as one of the unlucky first four out.
On BracketMatrix.com, the Wildcats are on average a seeding of 9.32, although they are only included on 31 of 49 brackets counted. One must factor that some of these brackets have also not been updated since NU’s January 7 loss to Illinois. A general consensus is that NU will need to be about .500 in conference play (10-10 if a full schedule) to make the Big Dance.