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Road to Selection Sunday: Tough To Win On The Road In The B1G? Not This Season

01/21/2013, 3:45pm CST
By SelectionSunday

It's time to don the road uni's and get a win, no matter how ugly.

ROAD WARRIORS, U.S.A. -- If we received a nickel for every time a BTN or ESPN announcer told us how difficult it was to win on the road in the Big Ten Conference, all of us would be significantly wealthier. Most years that's probably the case, but so far this 2012-13 season that proclamation rings hollow. There have been 32 games played in the Big Ten this season. Home-team dominance? Not at all. It's dead even with the host and road teams each winning 16 times, which includes last week when the road teams drew even by winning 7 of 9.

Minnesota fans hope that trend continues this week, when the Gophers hit the road for games at Northwestern (Wednesday) and Wisconsin (Saturday). Outside of a two-game road trip to end the Big Ten regular season (@ Nebraska and @ Purdue), this week likely presents the Gophers with their best opportunity to win back-to-back Big 10 road games. I'd argue that if they want to be considered legitimate conference championship contenders, the Gophers must win both games, no easy task considering their history at the Kohl Center, not to mention the recent improved play of the Badgers (and Northwestern, too).

Odds 'N Ends
(1) If you twisted my arm, at this moment my pick to win the national championship would be Florida.

(2) Let's take a quick look at how my preseason Final Four teams are doing. All four are in the top 26 of the RPI, but needless to say at least a couple of these need to get going if they want to be part of the party in Atlanta. ... Louisville (#10), Indiana (#14), Michigan State (#16), and Missouri (#26).

(3) If the Final Four were held right now, who would I have joining Florida? Let's go with Kansas, Louisville, and Michigan.

(4) Sooner rather than later, the silly Flagrant 1-2 rule is going to decide a close game in the final seconds. It almost happened Saturday in State College when the rule almost gift-wrapped what would have been an undeserved win for Penn State over Nebraska. Fortunately, after the 'Huskers Brandon Ubel was whistled for a Flagrant 1 the Nittany Lions couldn't cash in at the free-throw line, or on their ensuing possession (1 for 6 combined from the line following the Flagrant 1). This business of the guy with the ball being assessed a Flagrant 1 (unintentional elbow) for simply trying to clear himself while opposing players are mugging him has got to stop. What's the guy supposed to do, hand the defense the ball?

(5) Determining the Big Ten leader each week is a little like playing pin the tail on the donkey. A week ago today Indiana led the conference. Then Wisconsin grabbed the lead when it upset the Hoosiers in Bloomington. Then Michigan State moved to the head of the class after the Spartans beat Ohio State and the Badgers lost to Iowa. The best bet to be leading next Monday? I'll go with Michigan, which hosts Purdue on Thursday before traveling to Champaign-Urbana on Sunday.

(6) My 1st Team All-Big Ten to this point? Give me Trey Burke (Michigan, MOP), Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan), Austin Hollins (Gophers), Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State), and Cody Zeller (Indiana).

(7) The final BracketBusters pairings (the event will be discontinued after this season) will be announced on Jan. 28. With mid-majors the likes of Butler, George Mason, Gonzaga, and VCU no longer taking part, the top matchups won't be nearly as juicy as in the past. Even so, there should be some decent pairings among the 12 televised games (ESPN/ESPN2, ESPNU) on the weekend of Feb. 22-23. A guess that the top 6 games look like this (with current RPI in parentheses):

Creighton (22) @ Belmont (23);
South Dakota State (61) @ Wichita State (15);
North Dakota State (53) @ Akron (68);
Stephen F. Austin (69) @ Saint Mary's (62);
Detroit (91) @ Indiana State (47); and
Eastern Kentucky (71) @ Valparaiso (84)

Snapshot Resume Look at Gophers & Teams with Similar RPI
The Gophers currently are ranked #8 in the RPI, one spot behind New Mexico, and one spot ahead of Gonzaga. As a comparison, here's a snapshot of how their resumes would look to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

New Mexico
Record: 16-2
RPI: #7
Overall SOS: #8
Nonconference SOS: #11
Record vs, RPI Top 50: 5-0
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 8-2
Road/Neutral Record: 7-1
Best 3 Wins: #18 UNLV, @ #24 Cincinnati, vs. #28 UConn (total = 70)
Worst Loss: @ #78 Saint Louis

GOPHERS
Record: 15-3
RPI: #8
Overall SOS: #3
Nonconference SOS: #20
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 3-3
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 9-3
Road/Neutral Record: 5-2
Best 3 Wins: #16 Michigan State, @ #31 Illinois, vs. #48 Memphis (total = 95)
Worst Loss: @ #14 Indiana

Gonzaga
Record: 16-2
RPI: #9
Overall SOS: #12
Nonconference SOS: #8
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 4-2
Record vs, RPI Top 100: 7-2
Road/Neutral Record: 9-1
Best 3 Wins: vs. #21 Oklahoma, vs. #30 Kansas State, @ #38 Oklahoma State (total = 89)
Worst Loss: #31 Illinois

Mano-a-Mano Report: Top 8 Conference Head to Head
Standings
1. Big East (38-21, 64.4%)
T-2. ACC (32-22, 59.3%)
T-2. Big Ten (32-22, 59.3%)
4. Pac 12 (29-26, 52.7%)
5. Big 12 (21-21, 50%)
6. Mountain West (12-16, 42.9%)
7. Atlantic 10 (23-41, 35.9%)
8. SEC (22-40, 35.5%)
Last Week: Purdue (Big Ten) over West Virginia (Big 12)

Big Ten in the RPI (includes future members)
5. Michigan (16-1)
8. GOPHERS (15-3)
14. Indiana (16-2)
16. Michigan State (15-3)
27. Ohio State (13-4)
31. Illinois (13-5)
46. Rutgers (12-5)
51. Wisconsin (13-5)
64. Iowa (13-5)
65. Maryland (14-4)
66. Nebraska (10-9)
94. Northwestern (11-8)
123. Purdue (10-8)
188. Penn State (8-10)

Gophers' Nonconference Opponents in the RPI
1. Duke (16-1)
48. Memphis (14-3)
53. North Dakota State (14-4)
61. South Dakota State (12-6)
74. Stanford (11-7)
75. Florida State (10-7)
82. Richmond (12-7)
101. Tennessee State (10-8)
136. USC (8-11)
191. Toledo (6-9)
220. North Florida (7-12)
259. Lafayette (7-12)
273. American (6-12)

Field of 68 Projection (through games played Jan. 20)
America East (1): Albany (121)
ACC (4): Duke (1), Miami (4), NC State (13), North Carolina (34)
Atlantic Sun (1): Stetson (222)
Atlantic 10 (4): Butler (12), VCU (29), Temple (49), Xavier (67)
Big East (7): Louisville (10), Syracuse (11), Marquette (20), Cincinnati (24), Notre Dame (41), Pitt (55), Georgetown (57)
Big Sky (1): Weber State (117)
Big South (1): Charleston Southern (173)
Big Ten (7): Michigan (5), GOPHERS (8), Indiana (14), Michigan State (16), Ohio State (27), Illinois (31), Wisconsin (51)
Big 12 (6): Kansas (3), Oklahoma (21), Kansas State (30), Iowa State (37), Oklahoma State (38), Baylor (45)
Big West (1): Long Beach State (100)
Colonial (1): Northeastern (129)
Conference USA (2): Southern Miss (40), Memphis (48)
Horizon (1): Valparaiso (84)
Ivy (1): Harvard (85)
Metro Atlantic (1): Niagara (141)
MAC (1): Akron (68)
MEAC (1): Norfolk State (184)
Missouri Valley (3): Wichita State (15), Creighton (22), Indiana State (47)
Mountain West (6): New Mexico (7), Colorado State (17), UNLV (18), San Diego State (33), Wyoming (35), Boise State (50)
Northeast (1): Bryant (106)
Ohio Valley (1): Belmont (23)
Pac 12 (4): Arizona (2), Colorado (19), Oregon (25), UCLA (44)
Patriot (1): Bucknell (39)
SEC (4): Florida (6), Missouri (26), Ole Miss (32), Kentucky (52)
Southern (1): Davidson (120)
Southland (1): Stephen F. Austin (69)
SWAC (1): Southern U (165)
Summit (1): North Dakota State (53)
Sun Belt (1): Middle Tennessee (36)
West Coast (1): Gonzaga (9)
WAC (1): Louisiana Tech (54)

Last 4 In: Indiana State (47), Boise State (50), Georgetown (57), Xavier (67)

First 4 Out: Texas A&M (58), Washington (70), Florida State (75), Saint Louis (78)

Non-BCS At-Larges (11): Butler (12), Colorado State (17), UNLV (18), Creighton (22), San Diego State (33), Wyoming (35), Indiana State (47), Memphis (48), Temple (49), Boise State (50), Xavier (67)

Others Considered: BYU (42), LaSalle (43), Rutgers (46), Charlotte (56), Alabama (59), Saint Mary's (62), Iowa (64), Maryland (65), Arizona State (76)

Upset Special (blind squirrel seeks acorn)
Record: 0-8
Last Pick: Iowa over Indiana (L, Indiana wins 69-65)
This Week: LaSalle over Butler (Wednesday)

 

 

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