On Saturday, the NCAA released what would be the top 16 seeds in March Madness if the season had ended today. One notable snub was the No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers. Not only was Wisconsin not listed, but the entirety of the Big Ten conference was left off the list, including Purdue.
Trying to peer into the minds of the committee, it does make logical sense to not include the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin’s resume doesn’t stand off the paper too much, and a loss against Northwestern certainly doesn’t help. Wins against non-conference opponents Syracuse and Marquette aren’t stacking up as high as they would have last season. Additionally, the Big Ten lacks a true breadwinner vying for top dog status. With that said, there’s a large gap between Wisconsin, Purdue, and the rest of the conference.
The Badgers don’t have any losses that are keeping them out of the top 16, but rather don’t have any true signature wins. The losses to Creighton (away) and UNC (at the Maui Jim Tournament) were merely blips on the radar early on for a team that returned 99.7% of its points from last season.
The Badgers’ biggest matchup on the tail end of their schedule comes against ranked Maryland at home on February 19. Should Wisconsin win that game (and win out the rest of their regular season schedule), they should be in contention for a 3 or 4 seed come March. If we flip the script and the Badgers register a loss against Maryland or any other lowly opponent in the Big Ten, the Badgers will find themselves sitting at a 6 or 7 (mirroring that of last season).
With six conference games and the Big Ten tourney left, Wisconsin still has time to prove itself, providing few errors the rest of the way. But Badger faithful, don’t sweat this one too much. College basketball is full of twists and turns all the way to the bitter end. With their veteran presence and experience, Wisconsin should be just fine, as they return four senior starters who have already been to a national championship game back in 2015.