Chicago Colleges: Bracketology
Here’s a look at the five games (all times Eastern):
Illinois (3-3) and Wisconsin (3-2), ESPN2: Will Melvin Gordon run for 300 yards? If the Badgers wanted it to happen, Illinois’ 119th-ranked rushing defense would likely comply. More of the intrigue in Madison involves the quarterbacks. For Wisconsin, Joel Stave, who returned last week against Northwestern, will see time, in addition to Tanner McEvoy, who might also take a shot at receiver. And with Illinois’ Wes Lunt out with a fractured leg, senior Reilly O’Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey, who was set to redshirt, have competed in practice this week.
Indiana (3-2) and Iowa (4-1), ESPNU: Indiana has shown it can win on the road in tough spots, handing Missouri its lone loss on Sept. 20. The Hoosiers are more explosive on offense than any foe Iowa has faced. But Indiana still can’t defend well, in particular against proficient quarterbacks. The Hawkeyes are going back to Jake Rudock at the start, but C.J. Beathard will play. How well can Greg Davis manage this? If it’s a disaster, Indiana might just find itself in the right place at the right time for an upset bid.
No. 8 Michigan State (4-1) at Purdue (3-3), ESPN2: At least it’s not the best team in the Big Ten against the worst. Purdue escaped the low spot last week with a win over Illinois. And sophomore quarterback Austin Appleby looked good in the victory. Very good, in fact. Back at home, he figures to find a much more difficult situation against the Spartans, who might come in a bit angry after nearly blowing a 24-point, fourth-quarter lead against Nebraska.
Penn State (4-1) at Michigan (2-4), ESPN2: The visitors from Happy Valley, after an off week, get an opportunity to show that their anemic performance against Northwestern was just a fluke. With an upcoming stretch of three challenging games, no better time exists for PSU to get healthy than at Michigan, trying to avoid its first 0-3 start in the Big Ten since 1965. Against a good Penn State front, the Wolverines must protect Devin Gardner and throw the football, neither of which they’ve done well in recent weeks.
Lunardi placed Northwestern as a No. 13 seed in the West bracket and has the Wildcats facing Texas in a play-in game. Northwestern has never been to the NCAA tournament.
Northwestern improved to 7-9 in the Big Ten by pulling out a 67-66 win over Penn State on Saturday. The Wildcats host No. 9 Ohio State on Wednesday and travel to Iowa on Saturday.
Northwestern was among seven Big Ten teams in Lunardi’s latest bracketology.
Illinois and Northwestern are moving in opposite directions in ESPN’s latest Bracketology on Friday.
Illinois dropped to a No. 10 seed in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s predictions. The Illini have lost five of their last six games and have fallen into a three-way tie for sixth place in the Big Ten with a 5-6 record.
Northwestern is also 5-6 in the conference, but is heading upward. The Wildcats have won their last three games and now are knocking on the NCAA tournament door. Lunardi has Northwestern among the last four teams out of the tournament.
Sunday could be a key day for both teams. Illinois travels to No. 25 Michigan, and Northwestern goes to Purdue. The Wildcats lost to Purdue in Evanston last month.
Lunardi has eight Big Ten teams into the tournament with Minnesota and Purdue also currently sneaking in.
Lunardi placed the Illini as a No. 10 seed in the East region in his latest bracket on Monday. He has Illinois facing No. 7-seed Cincinnati in the first round with a possible second-round matchup against the winner of No. 2 Duke and No. 15 Long Island.
Illinois was one of six Big Ten teams in Lunardi’s bracket. Ohio State (No. 1 seed), Purdue (No. 2), Wisconsin (No. 3), Michigan State (No. 10) and Michigan (No. 12) were also selected.
Illinois (18-11, 8-8) travels to No. 6 Purdue (24-5, 13-3) in a key Big Ten game on Tuesday. The Illini close out their conference schedule with Indiana in Champaign on Saturday.
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
3:30 PM ET 1 Mississippi State Kentucky 7:15 PM ET 3 Ole Miss 24 LSU 7:30 PM ET 4 Alabama Tennessee 7:30 PM ET South Carolina 5 Auburn 3:30 PM ET Michigan 8 Michigan State 3:30 PM ET Texas Tech 10 TCU 12:00 PM ET Texas 11 Kansas State 8:00 PM ET 13 Ohio State Penn State 10:45 PM ET 14 Arizona State Washington 5:00 PM ET 15 Arizona Washington State 12:00 PM ET Rutgers 16 Nebraska 10:00 PM ET 20 USC 19 Utah 7:00 PM ET Syracuse 21 Clemson 3:30 PM ET 22 West Virginia Oklahoma State 3:30 PM ET Florida Atlantic 23 Marshall 2:00 PM ET 25 UCLA Colorado