The Big Ten tournament bracket is finally set. For this analysis, I've given Indiana and Purdue partial home-court advantage since the tournament is an hour away from both campuses. Here's what my rating systems predict for the chances of each team advancing (basic / margin-aware):
|#1 Michigan||100%||75.64% / 75.21%||51.35% / 46.31%||27.81% / 22.45%|
|#2 Wisconsin||100%||80.59% / 81.02%||53.46% / 47.42%||33.58% / 29.69%|
|#3 MSU||100%||66.68% / 61.68%||29.38% / 31.27%||15.01% / 18.05%|
|#4 Nebraska||100%||46.97% / 35.57%||16.89% / 11.86%||5.72% / 3.13%|
|#5 Ohio State||72.87% / 84.26%||43.42% / 59.54%||19.42% / 31.82%||8.26% / 14.56%|
|#6 Iowa||76.31% / 89.77%||29.45% / 37.54%||9.97% / 16.15%||4.01% / 8.06%|
|#7 Minnesota||64.92% / 69.65%||14.64% / 15.59%||5.44% / 4.56%||1.86% / 1.54%|
|#8 Indiana||52.16% / 61.07%||13.10% / 17.07%||5.51% / 6.76%||1.62% / 1.84%|
|#9 Illinois||47.84% / 38.93%||11.26% / 7.72%||4.50% / 2.32%||1.25% / 0.45%|
|#10 Penn State||35.08% / 30.35%||4.77% / 3.39%||1.17% / 0.52%||0.26% / 0.10%|
|#11 Northwestern||23.69% / 10.23%||3.87% / 0.77%||0.57% / 0.07%||0.10% / 1 in 12,800|
|#12 Purdue||27.13% / 15.74%||9.61% / 4.88%||2.32% / 0.93%||0.52% / 0.13%|
Wisconsin is actually the favorite thanks to a better rating than Michigan (their strong non-conference performance makes the difference) and a draw that's only slightly harder than Michigan's. Ohio State's chances of advancing to Saturday are better than Nebraska's by margin-aware and only slightly worse (despite having to play an extra game) by no-margin. Nebraska and Iowa are both fringe contenders (better than 5% in one rating method).
Here's what's at stake:
- Michigan and Wisconsin are playing for seeding and the Milwaukee site for the first rounds. Both project as 2 seeds right now according to the Bracket Matrix and would likely play there, but the higher of the two is likely to end up with less travel for the second weekend (either Memphis or New York, as Kansas is fairly likely to take the Midwest #2).
- MSU currently sits as the last 4 seed in the Matrix; this would mean a western site for the first two rounds. However, Michigan and Wisconsin sitting behind Kansas on the 2 line actually means there's a fair chance of ending up in the Midwest if we stay at the 4 line or above (top-4 seeds from the same conference can't be in the same region unless there are too many to avoid it). A good run in the conference tournament might earn some benefit of the doubt regarding the losses while battling through injuries; this makes MSU's seed probably the most difficult to predict of the bunch.
- Ohio State is currently the last 5 seed in the Matrix. For similar reasons to MSU, they want to move up and get in the top 4 for a better shot at the Midwest. One of the adjustments made to the bracketing rules this year is that teams in the same conference can meet earlier, depending on how many times they played during the season; since OSU only played Michigan and Wisconsin once each, even if they meet one or both in the Big Ten tournament they're allowed to meet in the Sweet 16 (2 vs. 6, for instance). Thus, it's less likely that OSU will get a procedural bump should they drop to a "natural" 6.
- Iowa is hovering around the 8/9 cut line in the Matrix, although personally I would be much more surprised to see them above that region than below (barring a run to the final). That's not ideal, obviously (although no 1 seed is going to be happy to see Iowa in their pod). Losing to Northwestern would put them uncomfortably close to the bubble (although probably still in); win that and they're almost certainly safe.
- Nebraska got the big win against Wisconsin to solidify their resume. The Matrix has them as the top play-in team right now. With the bye, Nebraska won't be able to take a bad loss (unless Purdue upsets Ohio State) and will probably make it, but one more win would be helpful.
- Minnesota almost certainly needs to beat Penn State, and might need to beat Wisconsin too. They sit at second out in the Matrix.
- Illinois and Indiana have no real chance at an at-large berth but will likely get NIT bids. A Thursday win might be the difference between one or two home games and spending the entire NIT on the road.
- Penn State and Purdue are fringe NIT candidates at this point and probably both have to get a couple wins to make it.
- Northwestern has no shot at the NIT and is auto-bid or bust for the NCAA tournament.