Minnesota is a bit less accomplished, but it owns a sweep of Ohio State and defeated Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin. It is 42nd in the NET and has no losses outside the top two quadrants of the NCAA’s evaluative system.
Both sound like good at-large candidates. But here’s the problem: Both Big Ten schools entered the week at .500 (the Boilermakers at 14-14, the Golden Gophers at 13-13), which is a lousy recipe to land a spot in the field based on past precedent.
Villanova in 1991 and Georgia in 2001 were both 16-14 when they received an at-large berth. Only two other at-large selections — 1988 LSU (16-13) and 1990 Kansas State (17-14) — were less than four games above .500.
There’s also a more recent discouraging example for the Boilermakers and Gophers: Indiana went 17-15 in the regular season last year, including a 6-9 mark against Quadrant 1 teams. The Hoosiers were sent to the NIT.
Also complicating matters, both schools have done an inordinate amount of their quality work at home. Purdue won at Indiana, and Minnesota knocked off Ohio State in Columbus. But without the chance to play home games in the NCAA tournament, both team’s profiles could generate skepticism.
Purdue has dropped four in a row and still has Indiana, Iowa and Rutgers to go before the Big Ten tournament, with Iowa the only road game in the mix. Minnesota will sandwich home games against Maryland and Nebraska around trips to Wisconsin and Indiana leading into the league tournament. Both need to string together victories in a hurry to land a spot in the field of 68.
Last four included: N.C. State, Providence, Cincinnati, Southern California
First four on the outside: Stanford, Wichita State, Arkansas, Alabama
Next four on the outside: Georgetown, Texas, Richmond, Purdue
Moving in: Arizona State, Belmont, N.C. Central, N.C. State, Providence, Radford, Saint Francis (Pa.), Utah State
Moving out: Arkansas, Georgetown, Murray State, Norfolk State, Purdue, Robert Morris, Wichita State, Winthrop
Conference call: Big Ten (10), Big East (7), ACC (5), Big 12 (5), Pac-12 (5), SEC (5), West Coast (3), American Athletic (2), Atlantic 10 (2), Mountain West (2)
Midwest vs. East; South vs. West
(1) BIG 12/Kansas vs. (16) winner of SWAC/Prairie View A&M-NORTHEAST/Saint Francis (Pa.)
(8) Saint Mary’s vs. (9) Virginia
(5) Colorado vs. (12) MISSOURI VALLEY/Northern Iowa
(4) Penn State vs. (13) MID-AMERICAN/Akron
(3) Creighton vs. (14) OHIO VALLEY/Belmont
(6) Auburn vs. (11) Cincinnati-Southern California winner
(7) Wisconsin vs. (10) Xavier
(2) ATLANTIC 10/Dayton vs. (15) HORIZON/Wright State
Kansas takes over the top overall seed after securing a regular season series split with Baylor on Saturday. … There are some limitations to Virginia’s profile, and the Cavaliers would surely love to have back their loss at Boston College last month. But they’ve also won seven of eight, and inertia is just barely enough to bump them up another line this week. …
The trend line continues to be troubling for Southern Cal, which was swept by Colorado and Utah last week. The Trojans will close the regular season with three home games (Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA) and would be wise to hold serve at the Galen Center. … The University of Dayton Arena and Wright State’s Nutter Center are separated by about a dozen miles. The schools haven’t met since 1997, but the possibility is in play.
(1) ACC/Duke vs. (16) BIG SOUTH/Radford
(8) LSU vs. (9) Rutgers
(5) West Virginia vs. (12) IVY/Yale
(4) Michigan State vs. (13) SOUTHLAND/Stephen F. Austin
(3) BIG EAST/Seton Hall vs. (14) WESTERN ATHLETIC/New Mexico State
(6) Michigan vs. (11) SOUTHERN/East Tennessee State
(7) Texas Tech vs. (10) PAC-12/Arizona State
(2) MOUNTAIN WEST/San Diego State vs. (15) BIG SKY/Montana
Both Duke and San Diego State lost last week, and their profiles remain comparable. They’re the No. 4 and No. 5 teams on the board, but the order can be argued. … West Virginia has dropped five of its last six, including Monday’s 67-57 loss at Texas, and its defense wasn’t as sharp as usual against either the Longhorns or against TCU on Saturday. It won’t cost the Mountaineers an NCAA tournament berth, but their seeding has dipped.
East Tennessee State (25-4) might have to win the SoCon tournament to get into the field, but it’s definitely dangerous. One problem: The Buccaneers shares a league with a pair of 23-6 teams (Furman and UNC Greensboro) that would be feisty No. 13 or No. 14 seeds if they earned an automatic bid. … Arizona State roars into the field after sweeping the Oregon schools at home. The Sun Devils technically occupy the Pac-12’s automatic berth, but they’d be in the field as an at-large, if needed, for the moment.
(1) Baylor vs. (16) winner of MEAC/N.C. Central-METRO ATLANTIC/Siena
(8) Marquette vs. (9) Indiana
(5) Iowa vs. (12) N.C. State-Providence winner
(4) SEC/Kentucky vs. (13) AMERICA EAST/Vermont
(3) Louisville vs. (14) BIG WEST/UC Irvine
(6) Arizona vs. (11) Utah State
(7) Butler vs. (10) Mississippi State
(2) BIG TEN/Maryland vs. (15) PATRIOT/Colgate
Indiana had a useful week, first by winning a road game of some substance (Minnesota) before dispatching Penn State in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are nearing the point that they just need to avoid a free fall to make the field. … N.C. State and Providence are two sides of the same coin. Does perfectly solid work against higher-end foes (N.C. State is 5-4 in Quadrant 1 games, Providence is 7-8) outweigh three Quadrant 3 losses (and in the Friars’ case, a Quadrant 4 loss as well)? …
Utah State might just be fine as long as it doesn’t lose to anyone not named San Diego State the rest of the season. The Aggies have won eight of nine, and their early neutral-site defeats of LSU and Florida have held up reasonably well. … Sunday’s loss at Ohio State did nothing to change Maryland’s status. The Terrapins are still the No. 7 team on the board.
(1) WEST COAST/Gonzaga vs. (16) SUN BELT/Little Rock
(8) AMERICAN ATHLETIC/Houston vs. (9) Florida
(5) Ohio State vs. (12) ATLANTIC SUN/Liberty
(4) Oregon vs. (13) CONFERENCE USA/North Texas
(3) Villanova vs. (14) COLONIAL/Hofstra
(6) BYU vs. (11) Oklahoma
(7) Illinois vs. (10) Rhode Island
(2) Florida State vs. (15) SUMMIT/South Dakota State
With seemingly everyone else losing, too, Gonzaga hasn’t been knocked off the top line or out of the West regional. Fact is, a loss at BYU isn’t going to damage anyone’s profile this season. … Ohio State might be as streaky a team as there is in the field, having opened 11-1, then gone 1-6 and now 6-2. The Buckeyes jump up to the No. 5 line after taking down Maryland. …
It’s possible to pair Hofstra with either another New York-area school (Seton Hall) or a team led by the last coach to take it to the NCAA tournament (Villanova) in this projection. … South Dakota State has won at least 22 games in seven of the last nine seasons and made five NCAA tournaments in that span. The Jackrabbits have already clinched the top seed in the Summit League tournament.