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As Big Ten wavers, Northwestern prospers

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Shelby Mast, Special for USA TODAY Sports

Published 9:55 a.m. ET Feb. 13, 2017 | Updated 2 hours ago

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Villanova, Gonzaga, Baylor and Kansas are No. 1 seeds with four weeks left before Selection Sunday.
USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin, the subject of Big Ten’s ire on Saturday when not selected by the NCAA selection committee as a top-four seed, didn’t do much to prove doubters wrong in buckling at home against an eager-to-make-history Northwestern squad.

Though that loss might have washed over the argument that the Big Ten was shafted in the initial rankings, a bigger story line — one that coincides the Big Ten having a down year — takes precedence. That’d be Northwestern, in quest of its first NCAA tournament appearance ever.

The one thing missing on the Wildcats’ résumé was a signature victory, as their previous best win came against Dayton. Northwestern did that on the road. So sure, the NCAA committee made it clear it is looking at the Big Ten in a lesser light than years’ past. But Northwestern also is way better positioned, in mid-February, than ever before. That Wisconsin-Northwestern outcome moved the Badgers down to the No. 6 line, while it shifted the Wildcats up to No. 7.

Also in the Big Ten: Indiana, with wins against Kansas and North Carolina, is on a downward spiral and it’s looking more and more like the Hoosiers will miss the tournament. Rarely do you see a team with two high-profile non-conference wins end up missing the field of 68, but they currently sit at 15-11 and have an RPI of 93. That’s not to mention that four of their final five games are on the road. The Big Ten tournament could be huge for Tom Crean’s group.

► No. 1 seeds: Villanova, Gonzaga, Kansas, Baylor

► Last four in: Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Arkansas, Wake Forest

► First four out: Georgetown, Rhode Island, Clemson, Miami

Moving InBoise State, Arkansas

Moving out: Nevada, Rhode Island

► Others considered for at-large bids (in no particular order): Vanderbilt, Marquette, Indiana, Providence, Wichita State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Illinois, Alabama, Auburn, Houston, Ohio State, Penn State, Utah.

► On life support: Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Iowa, Texas Tech, Memphis.

► No longer considered: UConn, Texas, Texas-Arlington, Charleston, New Mexico, Boise State, LaSalle, Davidson, Chattanooga, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s, BYU, Oklahoma, Charleston, Nebraska, Temple, North Carolina State, Stanford, Nevada.

► Multi-bid conferences: ACC (10), Big Ten (7), Big 12 (7), Big East (5), Pac-12 (5), SEC (5), A-10 (3), AAC (2), WCC (2).

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Conference Leaders

► Or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences – (23 total): Vermont (America East), Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), Weber State (Big Sky), UNC-Asheville (Big South), UC Davis (Big West), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Middle Tennessee State (Conference USA), Valparaiso (Horizon), Yale (Ivy League), Monmouth (MAAC), Akron (MAC), N.C. Central (MEAC), Illinois State (Missouri Valley), Nevada (Mountain West), Mount Saint Mary’s (Northeast), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Bucknell (Patriot), Furman (Southern), New Orleans (Southland), Texas Southern (SWAC), North Dakota State (Summit), Arkansas State (Sun Belt), New Mexico State (WAC).

  • Banned from participating: Hawaii, Southern Mississippi, Alcorn State, Savannah State, Northern Colorado
  • Transition Schools, ineligible for the tourney: Abilene Christian (Southland), Grand Canyon (WAC), Incarnate Word (Southland), Massachusetts-Lowell (American East)    

***

Note: All RPI and statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com.

About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 and has finished as one of the top 5 national bracketologists for his website, Bracket W.A.G. He’s predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.

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