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2015 Big Ten Tournament Seeding Scenarios: March 6

With one game to go, only two teams have guaranteed a particular seed and half of the conference has a bye at stake. Here's how those spots will be decided.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Midweek Results

Bold is an upset, italic is a road win.

Maryland 60, Rutgers 50 (84%)
Iowa 77, Indiana 63 (38%)
Northwestern 82, Michigan 78 (2OT) (60%)
Ohio State 77, Penn State 67 (70%)
Michigan State 72, Purdue 66 (78%)
Illinois 69, Nebraska 57 (82%)
Wisconsin 76, Minnesota 63 (77%)

Only one upset for the week, that being Iowa's win at Assembly Hall. Wisconsin and Maryland locked up the 1 and 2 seeds with their wins, while Iowa's upset win knocked Indiana out of the race for the double-bye. Despite the loss, Michigan joined Indiana and Illinois in the "guaranteed single-bye" group when Minnesota lost to Wisconsin.

As far as NCAA tournament chances go, Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan State all look like near locks at this point. I wouldn't recommend that any of those three put that to the test by losing, falling to the 5 or 6 seed, and getting upset by Rutgers on Thursday, though. Anything else is probably fine.

Purdue, Illinois, and Indiana are all treading close to the cut line. As of Thursday night, the Bracket Matrix has Indiana a 9 seed (which seems high to me), Purdue in the First Four, and Illinois third out. Conveniently, those last two play each other this weekend.

The Scenarios

First off, the full table (click for full size):


(The games are ordered from earliest to latest, so after each game you should be able to cut off either the top half or bottom half of the chart.)

The Top Six

Wisconsin has clinched the outright title and #1 seed, and Maryland has clinched second place outright as well. The next four are all tied at 11-6 and can all finish anywhere from #3 to #6. A mini-chart for just those four teams:


Seeding Scenarios


  • 3 seed with:

    • win, or

    • Iowa, OSU, and Purdue all lose

  • 4 seed with loss and two of Iowa/OSU/Purdue lose

  • 5 seed with loss and one of Iowa/OSU/Purdue loses

  • 6 seed with loss and Iowa, OSU, and Purdue all win


  • 3 seed with win, MSU loss, and either Purdue loses or OSU wins

  • 4 seed with:

    • win, MSU loss, OSU loss, and Purdue win, or

    • win, MSU win, and either Purdue loses or OSU wins, or

    • loss, Purdue loss, and OSU loss

  • 5 seed with:

    • win, MSU win, Purdue win, and OSU loss, or

    • loss, Purdue win, and OSU loss

  • 6 seed with loss and OSU win


  • 3 seed with win, MSU loss, and OSU loss

  • 4 seed with win and one of MSU/OSU loses

  • 5 seed with:

    • win, MSU win, and OSU win, or

    • loss and Iowa loss

  • 6 seed with loss and Iowa win


  • 3 seed with win, MSU loss, and Iowa loss

  • 4 seed with:

    • win, MSU win, and Iowa loss, or

    • win, MSU loss, Iowa win, and Purdue loss

  • 5 seed with:

    • win, MSU loss, Iowa win, and Purdue win, or

    • Iowa win, Purdue loss, and either a loss or MSU win

  • 6 seed with:

    • Iowa win, Purdue win, and either a loss or MSU win, or

    • loss and Iowa loss

The Bottom Eight

Indiana and Illinois will finish in the 7 and 8 spots, with Indiana having the advantage if they finish tied. Therefore, Illinois gets the 7 only if they win and Indiana loses.

At the very bottom, Penn State and Rutgers will finish 13th and 14th. Penn State has a game lead, but Rutgers has the tiebreaker; therefore, if they win and Penn State loses, Rutgers would take the 13 seed.

The 9-12 seeds are still up for grabs, with Minnesota and Northwestern tied at 6-11, Michigan a game ahead, and Nebraska a game back. Michigan's lead and the way the tiebreakers stack up mean that the Wolverines are assured of a Thursday start with either the 9 or 10 seed, while Minnesota and Nebraska cannot reach the 9 seed but can still earn a Thursday slot at #10. Northwestern can finish in any of those four spots.

The possible Michigan-Northwestern tie, thanks to a head-to-head split (and both teams beating Minnesota in their only meeting, so a three-way tie does not change this), will depend on the results among the 3-6 seed group (neither beat Wisconsin or Maryland). Northwestern can only join that tie by beating Iowa; they would be 2-0 against Iowa, 0-2 against MSU, and 0-1 each against Purdue and OSU. Michigan is also 0-2 against MSU and 0-1 against Purdue, so those two can be ignored; Michigan split with OSU and went 0-1 against Iowa. Thus, Michigan only wins the tie if OSU wins to finish ahead of Iowa.

Mini-scenario chart for the 9-12 seeds, with the extra addition of the Wisconsin-OSU game in the event that Michigan loses and Northwestern wins:


Seeding Scenarios


  • 9 seed with win OR NW loss OR OSU win

  • 10 seed with loss, NW win, and OSU loss


  • 9 seed with win, Michigan loss, and OSU loss

  • 10 seed with:

    • win and either Michigan or OSU wins, or

    • loss, Minnesota loss, and Nebraska loss

  • 11 seed with loss and one of Minnesota/Nebraska loses

  • 12 seed with loss, Minnesota win, and Nebraska win


  • 10 seed with win and NW loss

  • 11 seed with:

    • win and NW win, or

    • loss and Nebraska loss

  • 12 seed with loss and Nebraska win


  • 10 seed with win, NW loss, and Minnesota loss

  • 11 seed with win and one of NW/Minnesota loses

  • 12 seed with:

    • loss, or

    • NW win and Minnesota win

Game Odds

All times ET. Odds are based on my margin-aware ratings, updated through Thursday night.

Saturday, March 7

Michigan State at Indiana (Noon, ESPN): Indiana 52% (+0.5 projected margin)
Northwestern at Iowa (Noon, BTN): Iowa 90.3% (+12)
Rutgers at Michigan (2:15, BTN): Michigan 88% (+10.5)
Illinois at Purdue (4:30, BTN): Purdue 71% (+4.5)

Sunday, March 8

Penn State at Minnesota (1:00, BTN): Minnesota 83% (+8.5)
Wisconsin at Ohio State (4:30, CBS): Wisconsin 62% (+2.5)
Maryland at Nebraska (7:30, BTN): Maryland 73% (+5.5)

Seeding Odds

Wisconsin and Maryland are locked in at the 1 and 2 seeds, respectively.


Team 3 4 5 6
Michigan State 48.53% 11.46% 27.40% 12.62%
Iowa 26.54% 46.67% 23.13% 3.66%
Purdue 23.02% 34.88% 15.54% 26.57%
Ohio State 1.92% 7.00% 33.93% 57.16%


Indiana has an 86.00% chance of getting the 7 seed and Illinois has a 14.00% chance.


Team 9 10 11 12
Michigan 99.29% 0.71%
Northwestern 0.71% 19.90% 59.25% 20.14%
Minnesota 75.42% 20.18% 4.41%
Nebraska 3.98% 20.57% 75.45%


Penn State has a 90.21% chance of getting the 13 seed and Rutgers has a 9.79% chance.