Big Ten Tournament Tiebreakers: Just Win, Baby

Mar 1, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein (left) and Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bruce Weber (right) shake hands after the game at Assembly Hall. Michigan won 72-61. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

Each Big Ten team has one game left in their regular season, after the Wolverines picked up a win in Champaign-Urbana Thursday night, sweeping the season series over Illinois. Most Big Ten teams have yet to have their seed determined, but all seeds will be determined by Sunday afternoon.

Listed below are each of the Big Ten teams, their potential seeds (and what they need to do), as well as potential first round opponents.

To see the current Big Ten bracket, with scheduled start times, click here.

Actual scenarios are after the jump. Records listed are conference records, only.

Illinois

Record: 6-11

Highest Potential Seed: 8th

Lowest Potential Seed: 9th

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Minnesota (won-December 27th; lost-January 28th, by 1-0 record against Michigan State); Northwestern (won-January 4th; lost-February 5th, by 1-0 record against Ohio State).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: None.

Remaining Game: @ Wisconsin.

Notes: Illinois’s home loss to Michigan means that the Fighting Illini will play Michigan State if they advance beyond the first game. The good news for Illinois is that they beat Michigan State in their only meeting.

Eight seed: Illinois win and Northwestern loss.

Assuming Illinois wins at Wisconsin (which is going to be a tough task – (1) Illinois has lost ten of their last twelve games and (2) Wisconsin is a tough place to win at, although Illinois won at Wisconsin most recently on February 9, 2010), they will need Northwestern to lose to Iowa. Illinois and Northwestern won road games against the other, but Illinois holds the tiebreaker based on their record against Ohio State (both are 1-0 against Michigan State and 0-2 against Michigan). Based on a tie, Illinois would take the eight seed.

Nine seed: Illinois loss or Northwestern win.

A win for Northwestern would assure the ‘Cats of seventh place. Because Illinois is currently two games behind Iowa with one to go, Illinois cannot catch the Hawkeyes, even with a win and an Iowa loss. Illinois could finished tied with Minnesota, if the Gophers beat Nebraska. Illinois split the season series with Minnesota, but holds the tiebreaker against Minnesota, having the better winning percentage against Michigan State. Even if Illinois would lose, and Minnesota win, Illinois can drop no lower than ninth.

First round opponent: Northwestern (if eight seed); Iowa (if nine seed).

Indiana

Record: 10-7

Highest Potential Seed: 5th

Lowest Potential Seed: 6th

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Purdue (February 4th).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Wisconsin (January 26th).

Remaining Game: Purdue.

Notes: Outside of Michigan and Wisconsin, Indiana had the single biggest win during the week in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers drilled Michigan State at Assembly Hall, assuring Indiana of no worse than a six seed.

Five seed: Indiana win (against Purdue).

The Hoosiers could tie Wisconsin for fourth place. Indiana would lose on the tiebreaker – a January 26th meeting. An Indiana win and a Wisconsin win puts the Hoosiers in sole possession of fifth place. A win for Indiana is doubly-good – they would sweep their series against Purdue and draw the Big Ten’s worst team.

Worst Case: Indiana loss (to Purdue).

A loss to Purdue means Indiana would split the season series with the Boilermakers. More importantly, Purdue would finish one game ahead of Indiana, putting Indiana in sole possession of sixth place.

First round opponent: Nebraska (if five seed or six seed); Penn State (if five seed or six seed); Minnesota (if six seed).

Iowa

Record: 7-9

Highest Potential Seed: 7th

Lowest Potential Seed: 8th

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: None.

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Northwestern (February 9th).

Remaining Game: Northwestern.

Notes: Iowa beat down Nebraska on Wednesday night in Lincoln, splitting the season series. Wins by Indiana and Purdue meant that Iowa can no longer finish higher than seventh. Iowa’s win does assure the Hawkeyes that they will be the better seeded team in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Seven seed: Iowa win (against Northwestern).

A win for Iowa means they would split the season series against the Wildcats. Iowa would finish in sole possession of seventh place, even with an Indiana or Purdue loss, as they are currently two games behind each team.

Eight Seed: Iowa loss (to Northwestern).

A Hawkeye loss to Northwestern means Iowa would finish tied with the Wildcats. Northwestern’s win on February 9th and on March 3rd would mean Northwestern would sweep the season series, pushing Iowa to eighth place.

First round opponent: Minnesota (if seven seed); Nebraska (if seven seed); Illinois (if eight seed).

Michigan

Record: 12-5

Highest Potential Seed: 2nd

Lowest Potential Seed: 3rd

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Ohio State (won-February 18th; lost-January 29th, by 1-1 record against Michigan State); Wisconsin (January 8th).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Michigan State (won-January 17th; lost February, by 1-1 record against Ohio State).

Remaining Game: @ Penn State.

Notes: Michigan’s win at Illinois was big. Michigan is assured of no worse than a three seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.

Two Seed: Michigan win or Ohio State loss.

The title says it all – just win baby. If the Wolverines win, they will finish second. In a tie with Michigan State, they would lose on the basis of their record against Purdue (Michigan and MSU would have identical winning percentages against Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Indiana). In a tie with Michigan State and Ohio State, they would finish ahead of Ohio State based on common record against Wisconsin. A loss by Ohio State also would assure the Wolverines of the two seed (Michigan is 2-1 against Ohio State and Wisconsin, Ohio State is 2-2 against Michigan and Wisconsin, and Wisconsin is 1-2 against Michigan and Ohio State).

Three Seed: Michigan loss and Ohio State win.

Michigan would finish no worse than being tied with Wisconsin, if the Badgers win over the weekend. Michigan would win the tiebreaker, based on their January 8th meeting.

First round opponent: None (bye).

Michigan State

Record: 13-4

Seed: 1st

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Michigan 1-1 (won-February 5th; lost-January 17th, by 1-0 record against Ohio State); Ohio State (February 11th).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: None.

Remaining Game: Ohio State.

Notes: Michigan State has clinched the number one seed for the Big Ten Tournament. Even if there happened to be a three-way tie for first, the Spartans would be the top team. Michigan State would beat Ohio State based on their performance against Wisconsin – 2-0 versus 1-1 for the Buckeyes. The Spartans would beat Michigan based on their performance against Purdue – 2-0 versus 1-1 for the Wolverines. MSU, OSU, and UM have identical records against Indiana – or would – in a worst-case scenario for MSU.

First round opponent: None (bye).

Minnesota

Record: 5-12

Highest Potential Seed: 10th

Lowest Potential Seed: 11th

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Nebraska (February 5th); Penn State (January 15th).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Illinois (won-January 28th; lost-December 27th, by 0-2 record against Michigan State).

Remaining Game: Nebraska.

Notes: Minnesota continues to lose games, falling at Wisconsin on Tuesday night by seven. Minnesota is 8-9 in games decided by ten points or less (5-0 in games decided by ten or less in non-conference play, 3-9 in Big Ten play).

Ten seed: (1) Minnesota win (against Nebraska) or (2) Minnesota loss (to Nebraska) AND Penn State win.

(1) Minnesota holds the tiebreaker over Nebraska, currently. A win over Nebraska would mean Minnesota either ties for ninth place or is in sole possession of tenth.

(2) Minnesota could finish in a three-way tie for tenth, if they lose to Nebraska and Penn State beats Michigan. In that case, Minnesota would be 2-1 against the others (1-0 against Penn State), Nebraska would be 2-2, and Penn State would be 1-2.

Eleven seed: Minnesota loss (to Nebraska) AND Penn State loss.

Only if Minnesota loses to Nebraska and Penn State loses to Michigan would Minnesota fall to eleventh. Minnesota and Nebraska were winless against the top four teams and Purdue, but different in the results against Indiana. Nebraska was 1-0 against Indiana, while Minnesota split their season series against Indiana.

First round opponent: Iowa (if ten seed); Northwestern (if ten seed); Indiana (if eleven seed); Purdue (if eleven seed)

Nebraska

Record: 4-13

Highest Potential Seed: 10th

Lowest Potential Seed: 12th

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Penn State (won-January 11th; lost February 11th, by 1-0 record against Indiana).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Minnesota (February 5th).

Remaining Game: @ Minnesota.

Notes: Nebraska lost at home on Wednesday night to Iowa, splitting the season series. Nebraska has lost seven of their last eight games.

Ten seed: Nebraska win (against Minnesota) AND Penn State loss.

Nebraska would split with Minnesota if they beat the Gophers this weekend. Assuming Penn State loses to Michigan, the ‘Huskers would take tenth. Nebraska and Minnesota were winless against the top four teams and Purdue. However, Nebraska was 1-0 against Indiana and Minnesota was 1-1. Nebraska would win the tiebreaker.

Eleven seed: (1) Nebraska loss (to Minnesota) AND Penn State loss AND Indiana win or (2) Nebraska win (against Minnesota) AND Penn State win.

(1) Nebraska and Penn State split the season series. Assuming Penn State loses to Michigan on Sunday, both teams would be winless against the top four teams. They have differing records against Indiana and Purdue. If Indiana beats Purdue, the ‘Huskers would finish ahead of Penn State, having beaten Indiana in their only meeting (Penn State split against the Hoosiers).

(2) If Penn State wins, Nebraska needs to beat Minnesota to force a three-way tie. Nebraska would finish second out of the grouping (eleventh overall) based on 2-2 record against the others; Penn State would be 1-2 against the others, while Minnesota would be 2-1.

Twelve seed: (1) Nebraska loss (to Minnesota) AND Penn State loss AND Purdue win or (2) Nebraska loss AND Penn State win.

(1) Nebraska and Penn State split the season series. Assuming Penn State loses to Michigan on Sunday, both teams would be winless against the top four teams. They have differing records against Indiana and Purdue. If Purdue beats Indiana, the ‘Huskers would finish behind Penn State, having lost to Purdue in their only meeting (Penn State split against the Boilermakers).

(2) If Nebraska loses and Penn State wins, there would be a tie for eleventh. Nebraska and Penn State were winless against Michigan State and Ohio State. Penn State would be 1-1 against Michigan, while Nebraska would be 0-1 against Michigan.

First round opponent: Iowa (if ten seed); Northwestern (if ten seed); Indiana (if eleven or twelve seed); Purdue (if eleven or twelve seed).

Northwestern

Record: 7-10

Highest Potential Seed: 7th

Lowest Potential Seed: 9th

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Iowa (February 9th).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Illinois (won-February 5th; lost-January 4th, by 0-2 record against Ohio State).

Remaining Game: @ Iowa.

Notes: Northwestern lost a heartbreak during the week, falling to Ohio State in Evanston by a bucket. Northwestern is going to need a few more wins between now and Selection Sunday if they expect to be included in the field of 68.

Seven seed: Northwestern win (against Iowa).

A Northwestern win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena means Iowa would finish tied with Northwestern. Northwestern won their previous meeting, on February 9th, so a win this weekend would give them the season sweep. Northwestern would finish ahead of Iowa based on the tiebreaker.

Eight seed: Northwestern loss and Illinois loss.

A loss for Northwestern would mean the ‘Cats could finish no higher than eighth place. Because Northwestern would lose to Illinois on a tiebreaker (teams were 1-1 against each other; both were 1-0 against Michigan State, but 0-2 against Michigan; Northwestern was 0-2 against Ohio State while Illinois was 1-1), the Wildcats would need some help from Wisconsin, Illinois’s opponent. Northwestern would be in sole possession of eighth.

Nine seed: Northwestern loss and Illinois win.

As mentioned before, Northwestern would lose on a tiebreaker with Illinois, taking ninth place. Regardless, Northwestern would meet Illinois in the first round.

First round opponent: Minnesota (if seven seed); Nebraska (if seven seed); Illinois (if eight or nine seed).

Ohio State

Record: 12-5

Highest Potential Seed: 2nd

Lowest Potential Seed: 3rd

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Wisconsin (won-February 4th; lost-February 26th, by 1-1 record against Michigan).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Michigan (won-January 29th; lost February 18th, by 0-1 record against Michigan State)

Remaining Game: @ Michigan State

Notes: Ohio State won at Northwestern during the week. The Buckeyes lead throughout, but almost gave the game away.

Two Seed: Ohio State win and a Michigan loss.

With a win over the Spartans in East Lansing and a Michigan win at Penn State, Ohio State would take the three seed, based on their record against Wisconsin (both would be 1-1 against Michigan State, but Ohio State would be 1-1 against Wisconsin, while Michigan would be 1-0 against Wisconsin). Ohio State would lose on the tiebreaker with Michigan State based on their record against Wisconsin (Michigan State swept the season series over the Badgers).

Three Seed: Michigan win.

Ohio State’s game against Michigan State means very little if Michigan wins this weekend. Because of the tiebreakers, Ohio State is going to need some help from the Nittany Lions. Should Ohio State lose to Michigan State, and Wisconsin beat Illinois, the Buckeyes would tie Wisconsin. The Buckeyes would finish ahead of Wisconsin due to their record against Michigan (1-1, while Wisconsin was 0-1). On a three way tie with Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, Michigan would finish first in the group (second overall), Ohio State second (third overall), and Wisconsin third (fourth overall), based on records against each other (Michigan 2-1 against the others, Ohio State 2-2, and Wisconsin 1-2).

First round opponent: None (bye).

Penn State

Record: 4-13

Highest Potential Seed: 11th

Lowest Potential Seed: 12th

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Nebraska (won-February 11th; lost-January 11th, by 1-0 record against Indiana).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Minnesota (January 15th).

Remaining Game: Michigan.

Notes: Penn State lost at Purdue by 24 on Wednesday night. The loss to the Boilermakers means that Penn State can do no better than eleventh place. After winning two in a row, Penn State has lost three straight. Penn State has lost by double digits in 10 of their 17 games in Big Ten play.

Eleven seed: (1) Penn State win AND Nebraska loss or (2) Penn State loss AND Nebraska loss AND Purdue win.

(1) A Penn State win and a Nebraska loss means Penn State would have sole possession of eleventh place.

(2) Should both Penn State and Nebraska lose this weekend, a tiebreaker situation would be necessary. Penn State and Nebraska split the season series and would be winless against Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Penn State and Nebraska have differing results against Indiana and Purdue. If Purdue were to win and take the five seed, Penn State would win the tiebreaker – Penn State split the season series, but Nebraska lost their only meeting to Purdue.

Twelve seed: (1) Penn State loss AND Nebraska win, or (2) Penn State loss AND Nebraska loss AND Indiana win, or (3) Penn State win AND Nebraska win.

(1) A Penn State loss and a Nebraska win would leave the Nittany Lions in sole possession of twelfth.

(2) Should both Penn State and Nebraska lose this weekend, a tiebreaker situation would be necessary. Penn State and Nebraska split the season series and would be winless against Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Penn State and Nebraska have differing results against Indiana and Purdue. If Indiana were to win and take the five seed, Nebraska would win the tiebreaker – Nebraska won their only meeting against Indiana, but Penn State got swept in the season series.

(3) If Nebraska wins, Penn State needs to beat Michigan to force a three-way tie. Still, Penn State would finish third out of the grouping (twelfth overall) based on 1-2 record against the others; Nebraska would be 2-2 against the others, while Minnesota would be 2-1.

First round opponent: Indiana (if eleven or twelve seed); Purdue (if eleven or twelve seed).

Purdue

Record: 10-7

Highest Potential Seed: 5th

Lowest Potential Seed: 6th

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: None.

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Indiana (February 4th); Wisconsin (January 12th).

Remaining Game: @ Indiana.

Notes: Purdue avenged an earlier season loss, beating Penn State during the week, and setting up a showdown with rival Indiana for fifth place. Wisconsin’s win over Minnesota prevented the Boilers from having any chance of grabbing fourth place.

Five seed: Purdue win (against Indiana).

A Purdue win over Indiana would split the season series against the hated Hoosiers. Even if Purdue won and Wisconsin lost, creating a tie for fourth place, the Boilermakers would lost the tiebreaker – Purdue lost to Wisconsin on January 12th.

Worst Case: Purdue loss (to Indiana).

A Purdue loss to Indiana would leave the Boilers in sole possession of sixth place. A loss also would mean the Purdue would be swept by their in-state rival.

First round opponent: Nebraska (if five or six seed); Penn State (if five or six seed); Minnesota (if six seed).

Wisconsin

Record: 11-6

Seed: 4th

Relevant Tiebreakers-Advantage: Indiana (January 26th); Purdue (January 12th).

Relevant Tiebreakers-Disadvantage: Michigan (January 8th); Ohio State (won-February 26th; lost-February 4th, by 0-1 record against Michigan).

Remaining Game: Illinois.

Notes: Wisconsin’s win over Minnesota during the week wrapped up a first round bye for the Badgers. Wisconsin saw Ohio State and Michigan win during the week, which now puts the Badgers in a no-man’s land. Even if Wisconsin were to win and Michigan and/or Ohio State lose, the Badgers would lose the tiebreaker (Wisconsin lost the season series to Michigan, and Wisconsin would lose the tiebreaker to Ohio State based on their record against Michigan). Further, Wisconsin won the season series against both Indiana and Purdue; regardless of the result of the game between the Indiana schools, Wisconsin holds the tiebreaker.

First round opponent: None (bye).

Current Big Ten Standings (as of 3/2)

Big_ten_standings_03

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