Matchup up with Ohio State likely has NCAA Tournament seeding implications
Chicago — Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal is likely to have a direct impact on the Spartans’ seeding in next week’s NCAA Tournament, but MSU probably did its most important work last night.
With its win against Iowa in the quarterfinals, the No. 8 MSU men’s basketball team (25-7) all but assured themselves of a top-three seed and the opportunity to open tournament play close to home, at the Palace of Auburn Hills, home to the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his latest projected NCAA Tournament field this afternoon and has the No. 3 seed Spartans playing No. 14 seed Harvard (19-9) led by former Wolverines’ head coach Tommy Amaker.
In the bracket, MSU is placed in the East Region, where the regional semifinals and finals will be played in Washington D.C., with the Spartans needing to defeat the winner of a projected matchup between No. 6 seed Notre Dame and No. 11 seed St. Mary’s to get there.
The news was not as good for the Spartans’ in-state rival, as Michigan’s quarterfinal loss to Wisconsin has pushed them out of the state for their first NCAA Tournament game, with ESPN currently projecting them to face No. 13 seed Akron in Salt Lake City, as a member of the South Region.
Akron comes from the same conference as the Wolverines’ opponent in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, when U-M fell to another No. 13 seeded Mid-American Conference foe, Ohio, 65-60.
Still, today’s semifinal matchup with No. 10 Ohio State (24-7) is expected to have seeding implications for the Green and White.
Lunardi currently has the Buckeyes listed as the tournament’s final No. 2 seed, while the Spartans are listed among the top No. 3 seeds.
The winner of this afternoon’s game will likely nab the higher seed, as one of seven Big Ten teams expected to make the field of 68.
Indiana leads the way as the field’s projected top overall seed, followed by MSU and Ohio State and rounded out by Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.
Iowa is currently sitting on the bubble, the only team capable of bumping the Big Ten’s total to eight teams, but likely is on the outside looking in.
The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is scheduled to announce the bracket Sunday evening, following the Big Ten Tournament championship.