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B1G Games Weekend Preview

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What to watch for as the regular season comes to a close.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

As the Hoosiers are really only fighting Illinois for positioning at this point, this week's preview will cover the three non-IU games that will decide who gets the last two double byes in Chicago (with Wisconsin and Maryland already locked in). IU-Michigan State also factors into this discussion, but that game has already been previewed here, so there's no need to rehash it, other than a reminder that even with a loss, Indiana will have a single bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

There's some complicated tiebreaker math that goes into all of this, but the basic premise is simple: a win guarantees no worse than a tie for 3rd, a loss means you need some of the other three teams currently tied at 11-6 to also lose over the course of the weekend to have a shot at a double bye. The only stakes under consideration here are for Big Ten Tourney seeding and final conference placement, as trying to predict what effects these games could have on the NCAA bracket is above my head and pay grade.

Saturday:

Northwestern @ Iowa, Noon, BTN

What's at stake: For Iowa, a win means they clinch a double bye unless they end up tied with exactly Michigan State and Purdue. If Ohio State gets introduced to the tiebreaker, Iowa gets a double bye. Even with a loss, Iowa will finish no worse than 6th. For Northwestern, a win gives them a chance of not playing in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday, but they need help to do so. With a loss, Northwestern is assured a place in Wednesday's games.

Illinois @ Purdue, 4:30pm, BTN

What's at stake: For Purdue, a win means no worse than 5th in conference, and as high as 3rd place (and a double bye) if IU beats Michigan State and Wisconsin defeats Ohio State. A loss leaves open any slot from 3rd to 6th as a landing place for the Boilers. For Illinois, what's good for them is bad for Indiana, and vice versa. An Illini win and a Hoosier loss makes them 7th and IU 8th, an Illinois loss (or an Indiana win) locks them as 8th and Indiana as 7th.

Sunday:

#6 Wisconsin @ #23 Ohio State, 4:30pm, CBS

What's at stake: For Ohio State, a win combined with some help from Northwestern and Indiana gives the Buckeyes a 3 seed and a double bye. As with the other contenders, a loss could slip them as low as 6th. Whatever the results for the 3rd-6th race, they will be known when this game concludes (as Maryland-Nebraska later in the evening has no bearing on this race). For Wisconsin, they've already clinched the #1 seed and a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament, so a victory here would only improve their chances at getting a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A loss might hurt their NCAA seeding hopes, but means nothing for the Big Ten Tournament.