News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

February 13, 2007

Given to Fly: Big Ten, Missouri Valley teams in NCAA bubble machine

In men’s college basketball action, the Big Ten and the Missouri Valley Conference each have three teams that are locks to make NCAA Tournament.

For the Big Ten, No. 2 and No. 3 Ohio State and Wisconsin are competing for top seeds. Indiana is also a lock and hoping to play itself to a better seed. The Hoosiers are likely a No. 5 or No. 6 seed now.

Kudos to Kelvin Sampson for IU’s resurgence. And to Armon Bassett for his recent play. IU recruit Eric Gordon played on Bassett’s high school court last Saturday.

Anticipation will be heightening for Bassett and Gordon working together in the Hoosiers’ backcourt next year. If D.J. White sticks around, the Hoosiers are a preseason favorite to contend for the 2008 national title.

As for 2007, the Big Ten has several clubs that will be considered bubble teams — Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan.

Illinois seems to be playing its best right now, but the Fighting Illini are 3-8 against the RPI top 50. That includes a win at Bradley — No. 50, according to www.realtimerpi.com. But Bruce Weber’s squad has a strength of schedule that ranks 16th. And at 18-7, the Illini have games left against Northwestern, Michigan — both at home — and at Penn State and at Iowa. They should win three out of four and lock up a bid.

Purdue (16-9) needs to bounce back to beat IU today to help its chances. The Boilermakers have quality wins against Virgina (RPI No. 34) and Illinois (No. 38). If Matt Painter’s squad wins three of the last five in the regular season, then they have a shot. But 20 wins is definitely no guarantee for a spot. The Boilers will need two wins in the Big Ten Tournament — in addition to at least three wins in these last five — to get serious consideration.

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Given to Fly
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