Well, once again... just when we thought we knew what was going to happen this absolutely crazy season of Big Ten basketball jumps up and bites us once again. Indiana wasn't supposed to lose on Senior Night, they were supposed to win and cut down the nets as outright regular season champions and make our lives all that much easier as writers and fans.
Instead they lose to Ohio State, 67-58, and now face a must win over Michigan to avoid the craziest of scenarios, a possible four way tie for 1st place in the regular season. Yes, you just read that right... a FOUR way tie for the regular season championship. That makes the scenarios even more interesting and apparently more confusing for everyone involved.
That's because the Big Ten's tiebreaking scenarios as laid out by the conference before the season aren't exactly easily worded and confusing to almost everyone I spoke to in order to get clarification. After quite a few phone calls and a few e-mail exchanges what follows is a best guess without complete confirmation of one tricky sentence from the Big Ten offices. That being said I'm about 99.99999% confident in what we play out below.
Again, should Indiana lose all hell breaks lose, as long as all the other four teams involved hold serve, and they likely will - so play along, will you?
The loser of Wisconsin vs. Michigan State tomorrow night is out of the Big Ten title race all together, so clearly that game has some rather large implications. It could be a case of going from the No. 1 seed to the No. 5 seed in the tournament - that's how crazy things have been.
Finally, Michigan vs. Indiana - if the Hoosiers win they win the outright title and the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
That makes things a bit easier and we'll break down the top 4 seeds in that scenario later. Why? Well, because it's not nearly as fascinating as the one that involves the Hoosiers losing to Michigan.
If that does happen things are 100% crazy and I know you probably don't have the time nor the want to to break down all of them (and after my hunting expedition for clarification I don't blame you a bit). So, that's where we step in. Enjoy our breakdown of the scenarios at play should Indiana lose.
Indiana loss & Wisconsin win over Michigan State (everyone ends with a 13-5 conference record):
No. 1 seed: Wisconsin (13-5)
No. 2 seed: Ohio State (13-5)
No. 3 seed: Indiana (13-5)
No. 4 seed: Michigan (13-5)
- Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin all tie for regular season championship
- Wisconsin earns the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament by virtue of a 3-1 record against the other three teams they are tied with.
- Ohio State's 2-1 record against the rest of the group beats out Indiana and Michigan's 2-2 records and they earn the No. 2 seed because the 1st multi-team tiebreaker still comes into play
- Now we're down to two teams: Indiana and Michigan & the first tiebreaker goes out the window because they both beat each other. Up next is the tricky part and sparing you the inner workings of what went on you have to compare both teams to 5th place
- Indiana earns the No. 3 seed because it has a better record against Michigan State than Michigan.
- Michigan earns the No. 4 seed because of it's 1-1 records against the Spartans.
Indiana loses & Michigan State win over Wisconsin (all four teams end with 13-5 conference record):
No. 1 seed: Indiana
No. 2 seed: Ohio State
No. 3 seed: Michigan
No. 4 seed: Michigan State
- Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State all tie for the regular season championship
- Indiana earns the No. 1 seed by virtue of their 4-2 finish against the other four teams in the scenario.
- Michigan and Ohio State have same record against the top four (3-3) and Michigan State is eliminated (2-4) in tiebreaker, which then means it moves to record against team with highest ranking in regular season standings (following the four-way tie at the top), which would be Wisconsin.
- Ohio State earns the No. 2 seed with a 1-1 record against Wisconsin.
- Michigan earns the No. 3 seed because of loss to Wisconsin.
- Michigan State earns the No. 4 seed because of their 2-4 record against the rest of the tied Big Ten champions.
Indiana beats Michigan and Wisconsin beats Michigan State:
No. 1 seed: Indiana (14-4)
No. 2 seed: Wisconsin (13-5)
No. 3 seed: Ohio State (13-5)
No. 4 seed: Michigan (12-6)
- Indiana is regular season champion and thus earns the No. 1 seed
- Wisconsin earns No. 2 seed by winning tiebreaker over OSU with a perfect record over Indiana (1-0)
- Ohio State earns No. 3 seed by better record than Michigan and Michigan State (13-5 vs. 12-6)
- Michigan earns No. 4 seed with a 1-1 record vs. Indiana and MSU's 0-2 record against Indiana
Indiana beats Michigan and Michigan State beats Wisconsin:
No. 1 seed: Indiana (14-4)
No. 2 seed: Ohio State (13-5)
No. 3 seed: Michigan State (13-5)
No. 4 seed: Wisconsin (12-6)
- Indiana earns No. 1 seed by being regular season champions
- Ohio State earns No. 2 seed by having 1-1 record vs. IU and Michigan State having 0-2 record vs. IU
- Michigan State earns No. 3 seed by having better conference record than Michigan and Wisconsin
- Wisconsin earns No. 4 seed by having better winning percentage vs. IU than Michigan
Now of course, the scenarios played out above are all predicated on Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin all winning the games against the teams from the bottom half of the conference like Illinois, Northwestern, and Penn State.
We've all seen crazy things happen already this season, but in all likely hood these are the scenarios that are going to play out. If any of these teams trip up then things get way, WAY easier and this was all an exercise in futility to say the least. Having said that, do you really think they'll blow their chances like that?