IU must beat Michigan to win the Big Ten outright, but the Hoosiers remain the favorite to land the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
Well, are you over it yet? Me either. Nevertheless, IU remains the only team with the opportunity to win the conference outright. Of course, the Big Ten Tournament beckons next week, and the seeds remain in a state of flux.
I highly recommend that you click through and take a look at this excellent chart. It is helpfully color coded and really does a nice job of setting the stage. The good news for IU fans is that in 27 of the 32 possible outcomes, IU gets the #1 seed. The upshot is this:
- If Michigan State beats Wisconsin tonight, then IU clinches the #1 seed, regardless of what happens in any other game.
- If IU beats Michigan on Sunday, then IU clinches the #1 seed (and the outright Big Ten title), regardless of what happens in any other game.
- If Wisconsin beats Michigan State, and IU loses to Michigan, it is overwhelmingly likely that Wisconsin will the #1 seed and that IU will be the #3 seed.
It's important to remember that some scenarios are likelier than others. For instance, you may look at the chart and say, "hey, even if those two important games go against IU, then IU still has a 3 in 8 shot at being the one seed!" Not really. If Wisconsin beats MSU and Michigan beats IU, the only remaining scenarios that give IU the #1 seed all involve Penn State winning at Wisconsin. Also, one of the three scenarios additionally involves Northwestern winning at Michigan State.
So, for IU, it really comes down to one of two games, and the Hoosiers could very well have it wrapped up by 11 p.m. tonight, so long as the Spartans can defend their home court against Wisconsin. Obviously, I care more about the outright Big Ten title than I do about the #1 seed. Still, it bothers me that in the 15-year history of the Big Ten Tournament, IU has never been seeded #1 or #2. IU has been seeded #3 only twice, and both such teams lost in the first round: IU was pantsed by 11-seed Illinois in 1999 and lost on a buzzer-beater to Minnesota in 2008. Hopefully the Hoosiers can secure the #1 seed tonight and then claim the title as theirs alone on Sunday.