CHICAGO | Jerry Palm has been projecting NCAA tournament brackets since 1994, and the Schererville native has never seen this kind of confusion leading up to Selection Sunday.
Palm is spending the weekend in New York where the resident CBS Sports “Bracketology Expert” is attempting to make sense of the entire 68-team field, particularly the top seeds.
“It has never been this fluid at the top this close to Selection Sunday,” Palm said. "That’s what makes this so exciting.”
Indiana likely would’ve locked up the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament on Saturday with a win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals, but the Hoosiers came up short against the Badgers for the second time this season. With the loss, Indiana no longer has a stranglehold on the Midwest Regional and may not get sent to Indianapolis. Louisville and Gonzaga also are in consideration for the top overall seed, with the Cardinals possibly getting placed at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Palm believes the Hoosiers are still deserving of the top seed and Indiana coach Tom Crean doesn’t believe his squad should be punished for losing to a talented Wisconsin team.
“It doesn’t undo what we have done to this point,” Crean said. “It doesn’t undo any of that. We have had an excellent season. There’s room for growth; there’s no doubt about that.”
While Indiana is still likely to earn a No. 1 seed, several other Big Ten teams are in danger of falling lower in the bracket. Michigan came into the Big Ten tournament with the chance to move up to the top line, but after falling to the Badgers, the Northwest Indiana trio of Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Spike Albrecht will likely rise no higher than a No. 3 seed.
Palm had Illinois projected as a No. 8 seed on Saturday morning, but with North Carolina and Memphis winning, the Illini could continue to fall. Illinois will likely face one of the top teams in the country should the Illini make it out of their first game. Notre Dame is in the same boat as Palm lists the Irish right on the border of a six or seven seed.
“The committee’s job is hard right now and if their job is hard, then my job is hard,” Palm said. “There is a lot of confusion.”
Valparaiso doesn’t have to sweat out Selection Sunday like some bubble teams, but the Crusaders are still very much up in the air for a No. 13 seed. The Crusaders are in a similar situation as they were 15 years ago when they were right on the cusp of a 13/14 seed. Valparaiso earned the last 13 seed and went on to upset No. 4 Mississippi in the first round.
“This is almost identical to what Valparaiso faced in 1998,” Valparaiso play-by-play announcer Todd Ickow said. “The feeling was that they were the highest 14 seed and then they moved past one team and everyone was a little surprised that they earned a 13. The same exact thing could play out (today).”