One week of regular season games left. The Big Ten Tournament is starting to take shape. 6 teams are in, 3 are out, and 4 are vying for the final 2 spots. Seeding is up in the air as well. 3 teams are currently tied for 4th. While they are for sure in the tournament, those three teams (Rutgers, Nebraska and Michigan) could finish anywhere from the #1 seed, to the #8 seed.
Now more than likely there are going to be ties. The tiebreaker system the Big Ten uses for seeds is fairly simple.
- Head to head (if it occurred)
- Record against common conference opponents (percentage)
- Coin flip
Since they added the RPI tiebreaker in a few years ago, there is really no use for the coin flip, but they leave it in there anyway. So where do things stand now?
Teams That Are In
Record: 35-18 overall (15-6 in conference)
RPI: 40 (out of 305)
Maryland swept Indiana this season, so if they win the same amount of games as Indiana or more this weekend, they would be the regular season champion for back to back seasons. Penn State is up for them, and is 1-9 in their last 10 games, so a sweep should all but be expected here, which would make them the champs.
Record: 38-14 (15-6)
Indiana is the regular season champion and tournament top seed so long as they win more games than Maryland on the weekend. They play at Michigan State for the final weekend who is spiraling the past few weeks, so a sweep is in play. They just need Maryland to slip up once, which they have done every Big Ten series this year, except the one that mattered most for Indiana… Indiana.
Record: 37-12 (13-7)
Iowa is the outlier of the possible tournament teams that didnt play all 21 (or 24) games so far, because of a cancelled game against Penn State. With the opponents the top two seeds are scheduled against, chances are Iowa will not be jumping any higher than the 3 seed. Especially since they lost series to both Maryland and Indiana in the regular season, even when they sweep Northwestern. The gambling saga looms for their success in the tournament as well.
Record: 32-19 (13-8)
Rutgers RPI is probably just on the outside of the NCAA selection committee taking them as an at large at the moment. So they probably need a couple wins, including against a top seed to up their RPI. They play Minnesota during the final week, so that will probably take their RPI down as well.
Record: 29-20-1 (13-8)
Nebraska seems to be on the upswing again after sweeping Penn State, and needs to probably sweep Purdue to not fall down to 6th place and face Iowa, even if Iowa is down a couple players due to the gambling saga. Iowa should sweep the hapless Northwestern team, and Michigan and Rutgers face Ohio State and Minnesota respectively. So Nebraska may have the toughest opponent of the 13 win teams to try and keep pace with the rest.
Record: 26-22 (13-8)
The Wolverines travel to Columbus for the final weekend. They struggled mightily on their last road series against a subpar team, losing 2 of 3 to Minnesota. Add that inconsistency to that the rivalry between UM and tOSU and there is a chance they may lose a at least a game to lessen the pressure on Nebraska to sweep.
Record: 23-24 (12-12)
Illinois has completed its conference schedule. So they only have to watch out for Purdue and Michigan State to see if either team can catch or pass them. They swept Michigan State earlier in the season, so Michigan State would have to sweep top ranked Indiana to knock them down. And Purdue wouldn’t win the “common opponent” tiebreaker unless they sweep Nebraska.
#8 Michigan State
Record: 29-19 (10-11)
The Spartans hold the tie breaker over Purdue, so as long as they can win the same amount of games as Purdue does, they should be in. Beyond that there is only an outside shot they could get knocked out if Minnesota sweeps a hot Rutgers team and Michigan State does indeed lose the series to Indiana.
Record: 23-27 (10-11)
Purdue is down in the tiebreakers to both teams above them, so they need to sweep Nebraska if they want to guarantee to jump Illinois. Otherwise, they need to win one more game than Michigan State does to take them out.
Obviously, thats not taking into account all the other possible shenanigans they could potentially turn to. Looking ahead, there is a 50% chance of rain later on Friday, but you can bet Will Bolt will try to stay in West Lafayette as long as it takes to get a full series in, after last year.
Record: 15-33 (8-13)
Minnesota has had a better than anticipated last couple of weeks. This has put them in in a spot where they are mathematically still alive going into the final weekend. However, they would need to sweep Rutgers, Nebraska to sweep Purdue, and Michigan State to lose the series at Indiana.
While 2 of those 3 things are possible, if not probable, sweeping a hot Rutgers team is probably not in the cards for Minnesota. If they miss out and John Anderson is allowed to return, that would pretty much prove the administration has given him the lifetime contract. It’s not a stretch, since he has been a part of the team, in some capacity, every year since 1973.
Teams Out of the Tournament
#11 Penn State
Record: 24-22 (6-14)
Penn State had the toughest schedule down the stretch of any team in the conference. Their 1-9 record over the course of those few weeks could get even worse with a trip to Maryland to finish the season.
#12 Ohio State
Record: 28-25 (6-15)
After a good showing in non-conference, but a disastrous conference slate, the Buckeyes are ready for this rebuilding year to be over. Expect good things from the coaching staff they assembled, and sooner rather than later.
Record: 8-38 (3-18)
An unprecedented season of turmoil brings A LOT of questions for the offseason. Can you really let a coach return who in essence ran off every player of consequence along with all paid coaches? I wouldn’t think so.
Maybe the one time I’d consider putting them 13th in the rankings. Northwestern’s program is in that big of a hole.