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Big Ten Men’s Basketball Bracketology: The field narrows

A couple of squads once with tournament hopes have fallen by the wayside.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With Selection Sunday rapidly approaching, the 2021 NCAA Tournament picture is starting to clear itself up. A couple of Big Ten teams have slipped, with teams like Minnesota and Indiana, once thought to be surefire bets for the Big Dance, plummeting due to losing streaks. Let’s take a look at the current March states of the 14 teams in the conference.

Tournament Locks

Michigan Wolverines

ESPN: One Seed

Despite their recent blowout loss to Illinois, the Wolverines are still comfortably a one seed. Their consistency at the one line speaks to their dominance in 2021.

CBS: One Seed

Michigan hasn’t moved from the number one seed in any of the CBS brackets since it was placed there in January. One Seed

Every bracket listed on BracketMatrix has Michigan as a one seed, a further example of its impressive play all year.

Illinois Fighting Illini

ESPN: One Seed

Following their runaway win against Michigan in Ann Arbor, the Ayo Dusunmu-less Fighting Illini cemented themselves on the top line with arguably the best win of any team this year.

CBS: One Seed

Illinois has lived up to the hype throughout the season, with veterans like Trent Frazier taking a backseat role to allow for the dominance of Dosunmu and emergence of freshman Andre Curbelo. One Seed

Only six of the 107 brackets on BracketMatrix do not have Illinois as a one seed, and the lowest ranking for the Illini in those six brackets is a three seed.

Ohio State Buckeyes

ESPN: Two Seed

Despite sitting in fifth place in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes are a solid two seed thanks to a stretch in which they won 10 of 11 games, including victories over Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State. They close the regular season with a monumental matchup against Illinois.

CBS: Two Seed

A three-game slide dropped OSU from the one line, but all of their losses have been good. Two Seed

BracketMatrix lists Ohio State as a solid two seed, with just a few brackets ranking them a three seed or a four seed.

Iowa Hawkeyes

ESPN: Two Seed

Luka Garza and the Hawkeyes played Gonzaga close early in the season, setting the expectations for Iowa at a high bar. After a brief slump in February, they have only done more to solidify themselves as a two seed in the committees’ eyes.

CBS: Two Seed

With quality wins over Ohio State, Rutgers and Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes kill their opponents with deadly outside shooting complemented with Garza’s inside utility. Two Seed

Iowa followed up a loss to Michigan with an impressive rebound against Ohio State before annihilating Nebraska. The Hawks are a two seed in BracketMatrix’s opinion, with the majority of brackets ranking them there.

Purdue Boilermakers

ESPN: Four Seed

A contentious four seed, ESPN lists the Boilermakers that high in part due to the fantastic performance of Trevion Williams.

CBS: Four Seed

CBS places Purdue as a four seed, likely because of season sweeps over Ohio State and Michigan State and a win over Wisconsin. Four Seed

The Boilers are projected to be seeded right above Virginia. KenPom loves PU, as it ranks in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Wisconsin Badgers

ESPN: Six Seed

Once a top-ten squad, the Badgers have tripped up over the course of the last month. Metrics don’t hate UW, and they’ve done enough to earn a top-24 seed despite not having beaten a currently ranked opponent all season.

CBS: Seven Seed

D’Mitrik Trice’s sensational performance all year anchored a Badgers team that struggled against their most difficult adversaries like Iowa, Michigan and Illinois. Seven Seed

Most brackets see Wisconsin around the 6-8 seed range, with the average seeding sitting at the seven mark.

On the Right Path

Maryland Terrapins

ESPN: Nine Seed

The ever-sporadic Maryland Terrapins rank seventh in the Big Ten with strong victories over Wisconsin and Illinois.

CBS: Eight Seed

Eric Ayala pushed the Terrapins to five straight wins in February, with a season sweep over Nebraska and an 18 point win against Michigan State to propel Maryland back into tournament consideration. Nine Seed

The brackets on BracketMatrix list Maryland anywhere between the eight and twelve seeds thanks to their recent hot streak.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

ESPN: Nine Seed

After starting the year with promise, the Scarlet Knights cooled off and have yet to regain their previous form. A bad loss to Nebraska has potentially delayed RU’s locking in of a bid, and they need a win over Minnesota to feel good about themselves.

CBS: Ten Seed

Rutgers hasn’t notched a ranked win since its home victory over Illinois all the way back in December. Nine Seed

The Scarlet Knights average to a nine seed, barely staying above UConn, Louisville and UNC.

Michigan State Spartans

ESPN: Eleven Seed

The Spartans crawled back into the bubble discussion with consecutive victories over top-5 Illinois and top-5 Ohio State, but recent losses to Maryland and Michigan threaten to leave them out of the field of 68.

CBS: Twelve Seed

Aaron Henry and Rocket Watts have carried the Spartans, who have another shot at a resume-boosting win with Michigan on the docket this weekend. Then, they’ll probably need to win a couple of games at the Big Ten Tournament. First Four Out

Seventy-one of the 107 simulated brackets give the Spartans a spot in the Big Dance. They need another win or two, though.

Outside Looking In

Indiana Hoosiers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Minnesota Golden Gophers

It’s not looking good for anyone on this list. IU head coach Archie Miller will feel the heat with another missed Tournament while Richard Pitino’s fate in Minneapolis looks more dubious with every loss.

Better Luck Next Year

Northwestern Wildcats, Nebraska Cornhuskers

Battle for the ages on Sunday.