Northwestern still needs three wins to make NCAA Tournament

drew_crawford

In our latest NCAA Tournament bracket projection, we have Northwestern as a #12 seed, one of the last four teams in. Of course, this isn’t a place you want to stay right now as Selection Sunday approaches.

Even though this is a supposedly “weak bubble,” bracket projections don’t and can’t factor in the “bid-stealing” that will occur next week when small conference favorites lose in their in their league tournaments. How many of these “one-bid league” upsets will we have? Who knows, but you need to get above that last #12 seed line to be safe, and the ‘Cats need to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City and then pick up two more wins in Indy.

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Northwestern’s Surprisingly Good RPI, Tournament Profile

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RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is an algorithm based on opponents’ winning percentage, opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage, and opponents’ opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage. This is the truth, I’m not trying to sound like Dr. Seuss here. So RPI is like the BCS, a very controversial number that certains groups of people ascribe meaning to; other groups of people resent.

That fact is, RPI is taken very seriously by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, and from a numerical standpoint, it’s all about “who have you played?” Then there’s the eye-test with RPI, which asks “who have you beaten?”

And these numbers are what gives the Northwestern Wildcats a stronger than you think tourney profile. A 12-5, 2-3 in conference team with two 28+ point losses doesn’t seem like a good candidate to go dancing at first glance. But when you look at their #30 RPI and strength of schedule, the picture completely changes.

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#6 Michigan State Sees Win Streak End at Northwestern!

Tom Izzo

Was this a huge upset? On one level, yes. Any time the most prominent college basketball program in the Big Ten falls to the program with the least amount of tradition in the conference, it’s huge!

Not to mention it ended the biggest win streak that prominent

On the other hand, Northwestern came in with a RPI of 28 while Michigan State’s number is 6, so it’s not that big of a spread.

Also, last year’s meetings were an OT defeat in East Lansing and a one possession final score in Evanston.

However, when Northwestern defeated Michigan State 81-74, this one seemed to look like a “season definer.”

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Michigan State on Biggest Winning Streak Since Izzo’s 1st Final Four Team

tom-izzo

When the #6 Michigan State Spartans head to Northwestern on Saturday, they’ll do so riding a 15 game winning streak=longest winning streak since the 1998-99 season, when they won 22 in a row before losing to Duke in the Final Four.

That was Tom Izzo’s fourth season at the helm in East Lansing, and the first of his six Final Fours. That team lost to the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center to open the Big Ten season, then started their phenomenal run at home versus the rival Michigan Wolverines.

This group dropped the season opening pair to the ACC traditional powers (North Carolina in the aircraft carrier game and Duke in the Coach K. milestone game) before starting the current streak that has seen them rocket from preseason after-thought to national top ten ranking.

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Michigan State Tougher Team than Expected; Back in National Rankings

tom-izzo

Last year was no doubt a down year in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans still won 19 games and made the NCAA Tournament, but that’s definitely below par in a place like Michigan State- where they went to 6 Final Fours in 12 years. And entering the season as the consensus #2 team in all of college basketball, not advancing in the tourney was a huge disappointment.

They had to win some games in the Big Ten Tournament to even qualify, and no one expected that.This is a proverbial rebuilding year, as the Spartans re-loaded at many key positions. There were in no one’s preseason top 25, or even close. Yet here they are ranked #21 in the AP poll, #22 in the coaches and #23 in the Fox Sports polls. Why is this team better than last year’s?

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Michigan State could be nation’s top team next year

michigan state dancer

By Paul M. Banks

Michigan State entered this past season ranked #2 in the AP poll. They had their struggles in midseason, but played up to the hype when it counted in March. Without top player Kalin Lucas, the Spartans still finished just one HORRIBLE non-call away from playing in the national title game.

Butler star forward Gordon Hayward even admitted it himself, telling CBS’ Seth Davis that he legitimately hacked MSU’s Draymond Green on Green’s potential game-tying shot in the final seconds of the national semi-final game.

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