The Fifth Team?
The Fifth Element is a great movie. The Big Ten is hunting the fifth team to be in the Big Dance. Not so long ago, the selection committee decided strength of schedule and metrics were to take effect over human arguing and politicking: supposedly, supposedly- people like tigers have a tough time changing spots. Now if so, some of the Big Ten teams are in a little trouble. The Big Ten had two goals going into the tournament: (1) to have Ohio State, MSU, and Purdue hold high seeds, most likely a two or three; and (2) hope that Nebraska and Penn State could find a way to manipulate through the minefield and come out with a bid.
It would be greedy to think that both could slip in from outside the mess, as every big conference has one or two teams labeled on the bubble, so hoping for one would be nice. Rutgers provided local entertainment, Penn State helped the lion cause and cost THE Tuos one or two seeds, finally tiring out late to Purdue. Nebraska was one of four teams that found out Michigan is pretty good.
Both teams can put forth an argument, with over twenty wins. The bad part is that again about ten the teams in the county are in the same boat, but the beneficiary of playing in a league with better metrics than the Big Ten has gathered this season. Penn State and Nebraska will now hope for some early outs by similar teams in the Big 12, ACC, SEC, and the Big East. Other conferences will eat up two or three spots.
The media has adopted the theme that the SEC deserves eight or nine teams and the usual “They have to take this team” conversation applies to as mentioned above several “hopefuls.”
Both PSU and Nebraska are well coached, if I had to take one it would be PSU. Pat Chambers can coach at a big time level. Give him higher talent and he could win 20 games annually. Now what may help both teams is losing to Michigan, a team now rated very high in all metrics like Ken-pom and Sagarin.
Coach Beilein made some very good scheduling decisions for the 2017 an 2018 years. He played three beatable teams at home, then took a developing team over to Hawaii to play teams that served every need. This also tested a team regarding traveling and tournament setting. The loss to LSU was somewhat unfortunate, but it lowered UM into brackets where the games were more winnable. Back home came Michigan to one easy game, the ACC challenge and the weird experiment of starting the Big season early. The W’s played out pretty well. And then in February UM improved in about every area.