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March 2nd, 2012

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02:39 am - Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament Scenarios
Seventeen down, one more to go. It's hard to believe the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is less than a week away. Everyone in the conference plays this weekend, then the seeds will be set and it's off to Indy where the top teams will look to improve their NCAA seedings, the bubble teams will look to make one more positive impression on the selection committee, and the basement dwellers will try to pull of the greatest Cinderella story that this tournament has ever seen.

Here is a run down of the current seedings:

1. Michigan State (13-4)
2. Michigan (12-5, 1-1 vs. MSU)
3. Ohio State (12-5, 0-1 vs. MSU)
4. Wisconsin (11-6)
5. Indiana (10-7, head-to-head w/ PUR)
6. Purdue (10-7)
7. Iowa (8-9)
8. Northwestern (7-10)
9. Illinois (6-11)
10. Minnesota (5-12)
11. Nebraska (4-13, 1-1 vs. IND & PUR)
12. Penn State (4-13, 1-3 vs. IND & PUR)

If you are curious about how the tiebreakers work, you can just click here or trust me the rest of the way. There are numerous two-way ties that are still possible as well as a couple of potential three-way ties. Let's rundown the possibilities and what it means for various Big Ten schools.

1. Michigan State will be the #1 seed even with a loss to Ohio State on Sunday. Even though that would mean splits with both Ohio State and Michigan, their two wins over Wisconsin will ensure they get the #1 seed in Indianapolis no matter what.

2. Because of their 1-0 record vs. Wisconsin, Michigan holds the tiebreaker over Ohio State at the moment. However, if Purdue beats Indiana and Wisconsin falls to Illinois, the Buckeyes get the tiebreaker. Both the Boilers and Badgers will haved finished tied at 11-7. OSU and UM would be 2-1 vs. 11-7 teams. The tiebreaker will go all the way down to Iowa and give the Buckeyes the tiebreaker because of Michigan's embarrassing 75-59 loss back on January 14 in Iowa City.

3. Ohio State cannot fall below Wisconsin nor a #3 seed because the Badgers' 59-41 loss to Michigan all the way back on January 8 in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes split their season series with the Wolverines. In turn, Michigan holds the tiebreaker over Wisconsin because of their lone meeting this season.

4. Wisconsin is locked in at the #4 seed. While they can't leapfrog Ohio State, they cannot be passed by either of the schools in Indiana because of their 1-0 records against both schools. On January 12, Wisconsin beat Purdue on the road, 67-62. Then two weeks later, they beat Indiana in Madison, 57-50.

5. If Ohio State and Michigan both lose and Wisconsin wins, there will be a three-way tie for 2nd in the Big Ten. In this scenario, Michigan (2-1) gets the #2 seed, despite a would-be loss to Penn State, Ohio State (2-2) gets the #3 seed, and Wisconsin (1-2), as mentioned before, gets the #4 seed.

6. Indiana and Purdue cannot tie each other in the standings because they play this weekend in Bloomington. The Hoosiers have an 81% chance of winning according to Ken Massey.

7. The winner of the Northwestern-Iowa game will get the #7 seed right behind the loser of the Purdue-Indiana game. Northwestern would hold the tiebreaker based on a season sweep of the Hawkeyes.

8. Despite splits with both Northwestern and Minnesota, Illinois holds the tiebreaker over both with their 1-0 record vs. Michigan State. This guarantees the Illini will play in the 8-9 game on Thursday in Indianapolis and would face Sparty again if they advance to the quarterfinals.

9. If Nebraska spoils Minnesota's senior day, they would hold the tiebreaker over the Gophers. While both teams hold wins over Indiana, Minnesota also holds a loss to the Hoosiers.

10. If Penn State adds to this mess by upsetting Michigan alongside a Huskers win in Minneapolis, then we have a three-way tie at the bottom of the Big Ten. In this case, head-to-head records prevail. Minnesota (2-1) would get the #10 seed, Nebraska (2-2) would get the #11 seed, and Penn State (1-2) would get the #12 seed.

11. Finally, if Nebraska and Penn State both lose as expected, there will be a two-way tie at the bottom of the Big Ten. In this case, the tiebreaker will be decided by the Purdue-Indiana game. If the favored Hoosiers win, Nebraska gets the #11 seed. If the Boilers pull off the upset, then Penn State gets the #11 seed.

Finally, if all the favorites win (this is the Big Ten, are you kidding me?), this is how the bracket will shake out:

Thu, Mar 1:
9-Illinois (6-12) vs. 8-Northwestern (7-11), 11:30AM, BTN
12-Penn State (4-14) vs. 5-Indiana (11-7), 1:55PM, BTN
10-Minnesota (6-12) vs. 7-Iowa (9-9), 5:30PM, ESPN2
11-Nebraska (4-14) vs. 6-Purdue (10-8), 7:55PM, ESPN2

Fri, Mar 2:
NW/ILL vs. 1-Michigan State (14-4), 12:00PM, ESPN
IND/PSU vs. 4-Wisconsin (12-6), 2:25PM, ESPN
IOWA/MINN vs. 2-Michigan (13-5), 6:00PM, BTN
PUR/NEB vs. 3-Ohio State (12-6), 8:25PM, BTN

Sat, Mar 3:

Sun, Mar 4:
Big Ten Tournament Championship, 3:30PM, CBS

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