Bracketology: NCAA tourney hopes are still up in the air

Bracketology: NCAA tourney hopes are still up in the air

CHAMPAIGN — The easiest way for Illinois, now, to reach the NCAA tournament is to, simply, win the Big Ten tournament.

But even if the Illini stumble against Michigan during their opening game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., bracketology expert Sheldon Jacobson said Illinois isn’t out of the 68-team NCAA tournament picture. At least not completely, according to the University of Illinois computer science professor who uses analytical research to study the field and project the entire field ahead of Selection Sunday, on his website, Bracket Odds.

“It depends on what the other bubble teams like Iowa, Rhode Island, Kansas State, Clemson, Xavier and USC, among others, do,” Jacobson said. “Illinois’ analytics are fairly good. They need Northwestern to win, so that Northwestern’s RPI will get back in the 40s, which will add two top-50 wins to Illinois’ resume. A win over Michigan will also help in that regard. So if Illinois loses, they are not done, but certainly on life support.”

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