HomeSportsBig Ten Women's Basketball Bracketology: Minneapolis, here we come

Big Ten Women’s Basketball Bracketology: Minneapolis, here we come

The Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament has finally concluded and we’re ready for a wild week in Minneapolis.

The action begins Peacock Wednesday at 5:30 PM EST, when No. 12 seed Purdue plays No. 13 seed Northwestern, followed by a matchup between No. 11 seed Minnesota and No. 14 seed Rutgers. Before we get to the seedings of the projected NCAA Tournament teams in the field, let’s take a look at the two first-round matchups to see which of the four teams has the best shot at an upset run.

Considering that Purdue demolished Northwestern 74-48 in Evanston less than a month ago I liked the Boilermakers taking that matchup. Minnesota was a much better team than Rutgers this season, but lost 10 of its last 11 and struggled mightily without it Mara Braun. Neither team appears to be much of a threat to beat Michigan in Round 2.

The Boilermakers, meanwhile, cheered on pushing a desperate Wolverines team to the brink in the regular season finale. Additionally, their path would avoid the Ohio State-Iowa-Indiana triumvirate until Saturday’s semifinals. It’s still a long shot, but if you want to make a case for a Round 1 team on a shocking streak, Purdue is your best bet.

On to the teams that don’t to have to win the conference tournament to make the Big Dance:

Ohio State: 1 seed

First Big Ten Tournament game: No. 8 Maryland / No. 9 Illinois

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The No. 4 Buckeyes got their 17e the Big Ten regular-season title when they defeated hated rival Michigan on Wednesday, so Sunday’s matchup with Iowa was all about pride — and, of course, any potential mental or schematic advantage that could be gained for a potential rematch. Ohio State lost that game, but it hardly hurts their reputation. The Buckeyes are solid title contenders.

Iowa: 2-seed

First Big Ten Tournament matchup: No. 7 Penn State / No. 10 Wisconsin

The No. 3 Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 93-83 to end the season on a high note. Over the last 14 games, Iowa is averaging 96.7 points per game. Led by the new all-time leading NCAA scorer Caitlin ClarkThis offense is just so dangerous, and Sunday’s win was a prime example of that. Molly Davis’ An injury is potentially a huge blow to this team’s title chances, but any team that can get 93 points on the Buckeyes will have a chance.

RELATED: Caitlin Clark Record Tracker: Points, Assists, Rebounds and Rewards Milestones for Iowa Superstar

Indiana: 3-seed

First Big Ten Tournament matchup: No. 6 Michigan/No. 11 Minnesota/No. 14 Rutgers

After their extraordinary loss to Illinois on February 19, No. 12 Indiana finished with three wins with an average margin of victory of 18, including wins over two teams on this list in Iowa and Maryland. Mackenzie Holmes And Sara Scalia are one of the most formidable duos in the country, and Indiana appears destined for a rubber match against Iowa in the Big Ten semifinals that could determine which of the two gets a higher NCAA Tournament seed.

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Michigan State: 7 seeds

First Big Ten Tournament game: No. 5 Nebraska/No. 12 Purdue/No. 13 Northwest

The conference will most likely be won by one of the top three teams, but don’t be shocked if the Spartans give at least one of them a scare. During its five-game win streak to end the season, Michigan State proved it is still capable of putting up big point totals (86 PPG in the last three games) while improving its defensive focus (60.8 PPG allowed during win streak).

Nebraska: 8 seeds

First Big Ten Tournament matchup: No. 12 Purdue/No. 13 Northwestern

Losing by one point on the last day of the regular season at Illinois and missing out on the double bye has to hurt, especially since the Cornhuskers had so many chances in the final seconds. Still, Nebraska feels locked into the NCAA tournament field regardless of their performance in Minneapolis, and this could spell trouble for more of the finesse-based teams above them.

Michigan: 10 seeds

First Big Ten Tournament game: No. 11 Minnesota / No. 14 Rutgers

The Wolverines’ loss at Ohio State wasn’t unexpected, but it did make for a finale against Purdue that felt a bit do-or-die. It looked like Michigan would damage its resume with an ugly loss to a non-tournament team, but the Wolverines pulled away the win thanks Cameron Williams’ 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Michigan probably doesn’t have the firepower to join the Big Ten’s best, but they will put teams to work to beat them.

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Maryland: 10 seeds

First Big Ten Tournament matchup: No. 9 Illinois

The Terrapins fill a classic archetype: the team that beats bad opponents but can’t beat the good ones. Maryland does 0-9 against teams ranked 1-25 by NET and 17-3 against all other teams. The top four teams are all in the top 25, so Maryland will likely max out with one win and a quarterfinal loss to Ohio State. However, if they look good, that should be enough to make the NCAA tournament.

Penn State: 11-seed (first four)

First Big Ten Tournament matchup: No. 10 Wisconsin

The Nittany Lions narrowly avoided going winless in November by beating Purdue by five on Wednesday. How does a team this shaky close out the regular season? By beating Minnesota by 56, of course! If Penn State beats Wisconsin, they get Iowa in the quarterfinals, and I can think of worse ways to spend a few hours than watching two high-powered offenses go head-to-head. There’s a good chance the Nittany Lions will be fighting for their NCAA Tournament spot in that game as well.

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