Nov 27, 2014; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) misses a dunk during the game against the Georgetown Hoyas at Atlantis Resort. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Here we are. March. This is the month that provides so many things for sports fans. The NHL and NBA are jockeying for playoff spots. The official beginning of the NFL “year” is here, and so are the cuts and trades that will form next year’s championship landscape. The Cubs have hopes of ending their championship drought. And the 2015 NCAA tournament is just a little less than a week away.
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Here at Fantasy CPR, we will keep you up to date on which teams are fighting for a tournament berth, which teams are in, and which teams should be in. We will go conference by conference for the major conferences. The traditional one bid conferences will all get their day in print as well. Follow along as we unveil our projected teams up until Selection Sunday!
Big wins are wins against the RPI top 50. Bad losses are against RPI under 100. RPI rankings are in parenthesis.
Scarlet and Game
Who will make it in from the ultimate oxymoron, the Big Ten? You know, the conference that has 14 teams? All kidding aside, the Big Ten was strong again this year, but maybe not as strong as last year. That has caused some teams to be overlooked. Here we will dive in further to see who should get their ticket punched, and who could miss out.
BIG TEN LOCKS:
Wisconsin (29-3, 16-2 Big Ten, RPI: 4, SOS:12)
Big Wins: vs. (38)Boise State 78-54, vs. (18)Georgetown 68-65, vs. (16)Oklahoma 69-56, vs. (33)Buffalo 68-56, vs. (44)Iowa 82-50, at (44)Iowa 74-63, vs. (27)Michigan State 68-61, at (36)Ohio State 72-48
Bad Losses: at (178)Rutgers 62-67
The Badgers had a whole slew of other top 100 wins as well. They beat Green Bay, Cal, Michigan twice, Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota twice. That is a lot of good wins. The bad part is that inexplicable loss to Rutgers might end up costing them.
Wisconsin is big and athletic. Led by player of the year candidate Frank Kaminsky, this is not your old fashioned punishing Wisconsin team. They actually don’t rebound very well, but they still shoot the lights out. And they still play at least three forwards, though you would swear that the 7’0″ Kaminsky moves like a guard. He passes like one too. He is second on the team in assists. The bottom line is that you need a complete game to beat Wisconsin. Or you can get physical with them and hope for the best like Maryland did.
That Rutgers loss might be the only thing keeping the Badgers from a number one seed. Villanova, Duke, and Virginia didn’t lose to a team with a bad RPI like Wisconsin did. The one seeds are pretty much set in stone, though Wisconsin is assured a two seed no matter how the Big Ten tourney turns out. That said, if they win the Big Ten tourney, they just might take Duke’s one seed since the Blue Devils lost to Notre Dame.
Projected seed: 2
Feb 24, 2015; College Park, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard Melo Trimble (2) is congratulated by guard Dez Wells (44) in the second half against Big Ten foe Wisconsin Badgers at Xfinity Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Maryland (27-5, 14-4 Big Ten, RPI: 10, SOS: 50)
Big Wins: vs. (11)Iowa State 72-63, at (48)Oklahoma State 73-64, at (27)Michigan State 68-66, vs. (27)Michigan State 75-59, vs. (4)Wisconsin 59-53
Bad Losses: NONE
Maryland continued their tradition of basketball success in the Big Ten. They even beat what most consider the best team in the conference in Wisconsin. That said, Wisconsin had less losses and a tougher schedule.
Maryland is led by super-freshman Melo Trimble. Melo led the team in points and assists. Hybrid G/F Dez Wells is a threat from anywhere on the court. He was second on the team in points, rebounds, and assists. Maryland doesn’t do excel at any one thing, but they are a well rounded team, and they play tough.
Even if the Terrapins win the Big Ten tourney, I don’t think they can improve their seeding. They needed Gonzaga to lose in the WCC tourney to be able to move up. Athough, if Kansas loses to Iowa State and Maryland beats both Michigan State and Wisconsin again, it could get interesting.
Projected seed: 3
Mar 4, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine (45) and Michigan State Spartans guard Bryn Forbes (5) reacts to a play during the 2nd half of a game at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan State (22-10, 12-6 Big Ten, RPI: 27, SOS: 16)
Big Wins: at (44)Iowa 75-61, vs. (36)Ohio State 59-56, vs. (36)Ohio State 76-67
Bad Losses: vs. (128)Texas Southern 64-71, at (151)Nebraska 77-79
The Spartans once again played a hard non conference schedule. They lost to two of the top three teams in the RPI (Kansas and Duke), then lost to number 4 Wisconsin in conference play. They also lost a nail-biter to Notre Dame back in December. The difference this year was that they didn’t win any of those tough games. They did not beat a top 100 RPI team out of conference.
This team has all of the traits of a Tom Izzo team. They are a terrific passing team, averaging 17 assists per game which is good for fourth in the nation. They shoot well, and they rebound well. Most importantly, they play well as a team. Denzel Valentine is the leader of the team. He is second in points, rebounds, assists, and steals on the team. Did we mention that he is a good shooter?
The Spartans have trouble with bigger teams. They don’t have as much size inside as usual, but they are athletic enough to mask it most of the time. Their next opponent is a Maryland team that has beaten them twice. If they beat Maryland, they likely clinch a six seed. A loss could result in them moving down to a seven depending on what else happens.
Projected seed: 6
Ohio State (23-10, 11-7 Big Ten, RPI: 36, SOS: 66)
Big Wins: vs. (10)Maryland 80-56
Bad Losses: NONE
The fact that the Buckeyes only beat one team in the RPI top 50 is surprising, especially considering how much they won by. They only own one RPI top 100 win outside of the Big Ten, and that was over (89)High Point. That said, not having any embarrassing losses will only help.
The Buckeyes score a lot of points, mostly because they don’t miss a lot of shots. They shoot an incredible 48.9% from the field, which is good for eighth in the country. They aren’t afraid to pass until they get a shot they like. This is a very unselfish team. Freshman D’Angelo Russell leads the team in scoring and rebounding, which highlights the lack of size in the interior for the Buckeyes. That has caused problems for them throughout the year.
The loss to Michigan State helped the Spartans more than it hurt the Buckeyes. Their lack of marquee wins playing in a tough conference had them headed for an eight or a nine seed anyway.
Scarlet and Game
Projected seed: 9
Mar 12, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes forward Aaron White (30) reacts after making a dunk against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the first half in the second round of the Big Ten Conference Tournament at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa (21-11, 12-6 Big Ten, RPI: 44, SOS: 28)
Big Wins: at (12)North Carolina 60-55, at (36)Ohio State 71-65, vs. (36)Ohio State 76-67, vs. (10)Maryland 71-55
Bad Losses: at (121)Northwestern 61-66, vs. (104)Penn State 58-67
The win over North Carolina has looked better as the season has wore on, and is the marquee non conference win for the Big Ten this year. They also collected another top 100 RPI win over North Dakota State. Call it payback for football. They played a lot of good teams this year, but they didn’t always win. They lost to Texas, Syracuse, Iowa State and Northern Iowa out of conference this year.
The tandem of Aaron White and Jared Uthoff down low can be tough for other teams to deal with. They are both accomplished scorers and rebounders. The inconsistent guard play has played a large role in the Hawkeyes sputtering some during conference play. If they run into a team with good guards, they could be in for a short tournament experience.
The loss to Penn State could hurt. Their RPI is in the middle ground for an at-large team, but the win over North Carolina likely secures them a spot. It will also likely get them a better seed than their conference play says they deserve.
Projected seed: 8
Next: Which Teams Will Be Nervous On Sunday?
Mar 4, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Purdue Boilermakers guard Jon Octeus (0) and forward Basil Smotherman (5) talk prior to the tip off in a game at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Purdue (21-11, 12-6 Big Ten, RPI: 56, SOS: 70)
Big Wins: vs. (37)BYU 87-85, vs. (45)North Carolina State 66-61, vs. (44)Iowa 67-63, vs. (36)Ohio State 60-58
Bad Losses: vs. (150)North Florida 70-73, at (110)Vanderbilt 71-81, vs. (145)Gardner-Webb 84-89
The loss to North Florida reads as a bad loss, but the Ospreys are tournament bound! Wins over fellow bubble teams NC State and BYU loom large, as does their season sweep of bubble team and arch rival Indiana.
A.J. Hammons is a force on the inside. He is the leading scorer and rebounder on the team. but the Boilermakers aren’t totally built on girth. Raphael Davis and Jon Octeus are both good passers, and either one of them can run the offense. The whole team passes well, shoots pretty well, and their athleticism makes them good rebounders. They aren’t going to give anything away.
Advancing to the Big Ten Semifinals should put Purdue in. The RPI and SOS are not great, but their four wins over bubble teams won’t be ignored. If they get blown out by Wisconsin they might have to sweat a little, but I have them in regardless.
Projected seed: 11
Mar 3, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Yogi Ferrell (11) talks to guard James Blackmon (1) during a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Assembly Hall. Iowa defeats Indiana 77-63. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana (20-13, 9-9 Big Ten, RPI: 53, SOS: 31)
Big Wins: vs. (14)SMU 74-68, vs. (28)Butler 82-73, vs. (36)Ohio State 69-66, vs. (10)Maryland 89-70
Bad Losses: at (121)Northwestern 65-72
Wins over SMU and Butler early on are keeping Indiana in the discussion. Two losses to Purdue could hurt them. They have less bad losses and more good wins, but we all know that head to head will be what matters most.
Freshman James Blackmon and Junior Yogi Ferrell are a great guard duo. Blackmon has been better than advertised, and Ferrell is one of the better passers in the conference and still averages 16 points per game. The Hoosiers are a little small on the interior, and that cost them against teams like Wisconsin, Maryland, and Iowa. That said, this is a fast-paced team that averages almost 78 points per game. They shoot pretty well and they are athletic enough to not get dominated on the boards.
Indiana made the magic number of 20 wins, and they finished at .500 in a really good conference. The RPI is approaching dangerous territory for an at-large team, but those big wins will trump the RPI. Most of the teams still alive in conference tournaments are already in, which should work in Indiana’s favor. However, if Connecticut or Rhode Island win their conference tournament, they will steal Indiana’s bid.
Go Joe Bruin
Projected seed: 11 (play-in)
Stay tuned to Fantasy CPR as we check in on all of the other conferences!
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