Tuesday, teams across the country will sit and watch to see if their name is called during the course of the NCAA Tournament selection show.
For 64 teams, the night will end in joyous cheers as they have their ticket to the Big Dance punched, while the rest of the squads watching will remain sullen as their chances at championship glory this season come to an end. The Michigan women’s basketball team will likely wind up in the former group.
Along with the Wolverines, the Big Ten will likely send at least four more teams to the Tournament — Maryland, Iowa, Rutgers and Michigan State — with a potential fifth selection of Indiana, a bubble team.
The Daily breaks down the potential seeding of each of these six teams.
Michigan (21-11 Overall, 11-7 Big Ten)
After beginning the season 12-9, and having its tournament hopes on life support, Michigan completely turned its season around by rattling off seven straight wins and winning nine of its last 11 games.
Now, after an exit from the Big Ten Tournament in the semifinal round, the Wolverines sit comfortably in the tournament field. The biggest question going into tomorrow for Michigan is not if it will hear its name called or not, but rather when.
With a Rating Percentage Index ranking of 45, a strength of schedule ranking of 66, a 4-9 record against the RPI top-50 and two losses to teams with RPI rankings over 90 — Nebraska (93) and Purdue (90) — the Wolverines should be in the bottom half of the field.
What Michigan’s seeding will come down to is how much value the selection committee puts into finishing the year strong. Based on resume alone, the Wolverines would likely come in about a 10 seed. But including the team’s recent hot streak, Michigan should have a slightly better seeding.
Final projected seed: 9
Maryland (28-4, 15-3)
The Terrapins, winners of the Big Ten regular-season crown, couldn’t complete the Big Ten championship sweep as they came up short in the Big Ten Tournament championship game. Still, Maryland put together one of the most complete seasons of any Big Ten team.
With an RPI ranking of 14, the No. 9 Terrapins went 6-4 against RPI top-50 teams and had no bad losses.
Maryland has been fairly consistent all season and finished the season by winning 13 of its final 15 games, with both losses coming at the hands of the Hawkeyes. The Terrapins will almost certainly be a host team in the first round.
Final projected seed: 3
Iowa (26-6, 14-4)
After coming up a game shy of tying Maryland for the Big Ten regular-season championship, Iowa steamrolled the Terrapins in the Big Ten Tournament championship game, 90-76.
The Hawkeyes had the most wins of any Big Ten team against RPI top-50 teams, going 9-5 in such games. On top of that, Iowa was the only Big Ten team to have a winning record against AP top-25 teams at 6-2.
And while the Hawkeyes did have one bad loss to Purdue (RPI 90), they made up for it by playing as well as they did against the 10th most difficult schedule in the nation.
Iowa will head into the tournament as winners of 15 of its last 17 games and riding a five-game winning streak. The Hawkeyes should be the highest-seeded Big Ten team.
Final projected seed: 2
Rutgers (22-9, 13-5)
The Scarlet Knights’ season has pretty much been the opposite of Michigan’s. After starting out the season 15-3 and consistently getting voted into the AP top-25, Rutgers struggled down the stretch by going just 7-6.
Despite a 4-6 record against RPI top-50 teams and a third-place finish in the Big Ten standings, the Scarlet Knights lost twice late in the season to teams outside of the RPI top-100 — Minnesota (102) and Ohio State (107).
As Rutgers has not beaten a team better than the Spartans (RPI 43), the Scarlet Knights should be seeded in the lower half of the field.
Final projected seed: 9
Michigan State (20-11, 9-9)
Perhaps no team in the Big Ten has a more confusing resume than Michigan State. With a ninth-place finish in the Big Ten regular season, the Spartans’ conference play wouldn’t necessarily suggest they would have a spot in the tournament.
After starting the season 11-1 — including wins over Oregon (RPI 5) and Iowa (RPI 7) and its lone loss coming by just four points to North Carolina State (RPI 9) — Michigan State looked poised for a great season.
But following their early hot streak, the Spartans proceeded to drop four of their next six, including two losses to teams outside of the RPI top-100 — Northwestern (RPI 116) and Ohio State (RPI 102). Michigan State then finished the season 7-6 in its its final 13 games.
Even with a 6-5 record against RPI top-50 teams and a 4-4 record against AP top-25 team, it will be hard for the selection committee to overlook the Spartans’ 4-5 record against teams with an RPI ranking of 100-199. They should receive a lower-half seeding.
Final projected seed: 10
Indiana (20-12, 8-10)
The biggest challenger to Michigan State for the Big Ten’s most confusing season is Indiana.
After starting the season 14-1 — and 3-0 against RPI top-50 opponents — the Hoosiers finished the season 6-11 in their final 17 games and 1-6 against RPI top-50 teams. Additionally, Indiana has five losses to teams outside of the RPI top-100, including a loss to Grambling State (RPI 206).
While ESPN.com’s Charlie Creme currently has the Hoosiers as a 10 seed, he also has them as part of the “last four in.” With Indiana’s poor performance in the second half of the season and many losses to poor opponents, it would not be surprising if the Hoosiers turn off their television following the selection show dissatisfied.
Final projected seed: Not in tournament