Big Ten Tournament Seeding Scenarios

Submitted by Stephen Hawking on March 5th, 2013 at 11:44 PM

Since Indiana just lost to OSU tonight, I was wondering what the Big Ten Tournament seedings could be. This is the schedule for the remaining Big Ten conference games and the winners of each game in my completely subjective opinion:

Wednesday 3/6

Michigan @ Purdue

Minnesota @ Nebraska


Thursday 3/7

Wisconsin @ Michigan State

Penn State @ Northwestern


Saturday 3/9

Minnesota @ Purdue

Nebraska @ Iowa


Sunday 3/10

Indiana @ Michigan

Northwestern @ Michigan State

Illinois @ Ohio State

Wisconsin @ Penn State


This would result in a 4-way tie atop the conference between Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State. According to the tiebreaking procedures from last year's tournament, the seeding would work out as follows:

1. Indiana 7. Iowa
2. OSU 8. Illinois
3. Michigan 9. Purdue
4. MSU 10. Northwestern
5. Wisconsin 11. Nebraska
6. Minnesota 12. Penn State

Here is the 2013 Big Ten Tournament bracket. In the scenario I described, Michigan would be playing the winner of Minnesota vs Nebraska. If I made a mistake, please correct me.

EDIT: Fixed. I think UM would be the 3 seed by virtue of losing the comparison to OSU against Wisconsin.


Mr. Yost

March 5th, 2013 at 11:47 PM ^

Michigan players, please do me a favor...don't lose another game for the rest of this season and postseason. I'll figure it out in the end.

Thanks boys. Go Blue!


March 6th, 2013 at 12:02 AM ^

Plus, if the four-way log jam for the title happens, it's likely the conference tournament winner is going to pick up a 1 seed (unless it's wisconsin and they'd even have a case). That would give us a virtual gimme in our opening round game (potentially against a team that had played 2 days earlier)


March 6th, 2013 at 9:13 AM ^

With a really high seed, they will get a very bad team: probably a winner of a low-minor conference with nobody who could start on mid-to-upper Big Ten team.  

The reason why first round upsets usually start with the 5-12 games is that the 13-16 seeds are all teams that really have no business being in the tournament, and would be better served with their own, small conference version of the NCAA tournament.  12 and up are mid-major to major teams.

Incidentally, a team seeded lower than 11 has never made it to the Final Four.  In the last ten years, three 14's have beaten 3's, while no 15 or 16 has won a game.  I don't think an extra game or two on the weekend will hurt Michigan.  If anything, it will make the first game more of a laugher if they can rally and get a #1 seed, or at least a #2.  


March 6th, 2013 at 10:37 AM ^

Uh, no. Two 15s won last year, taking out Duke and Missouri (who I had stupidly picked to win it all).

I agree that in general the 15s and 16s are teams that M should beat, regardless of how hard the BTT is on them.


March 5th, 2013 at 11:57 PM ^

OSU would be ahead of Michigan. 

IU gets the 1 seed by virtue of being 2-0 over MSU. 

MSU gets relegated to the 4 seed by virtue of being 0-2 vs IU.

Michigan and OSU are 1-1 with MSU, so it goes to the next highest which would be Wisconsin. OSU would be 1-1 with Wisconsin, while Michigan is 0-1 vs Wisconsin. 


March 6th, 2013 at 8:46 AM ^

This is the correct outcome, but just a small correction in the logic...

The tiebreaker is still against all the teams with the same record, not only against teams that have been removed from the tiebreaker. IU would have a 4-2 record, OSU and Michigan would have a 3-3 record, and MSU would have a 2-4 record. IU gets the #1, MSU gets the #4, and OSU and Michigan move on to the next tiebreaker, which is record against Wisconsin. It seems like you realized this, but what you said wasn't quite accurate, so I wanted to make it clear to everyone else.


March 5th, 2013 at 11:58 PM ^

Correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't Mich be the 3 seed? IU is 2-0 against MSU and thus would have the highest winning percentage against the 3 other schools. MSU is 0-2 against IU so they would have the lowest. OSU is 1-1 against the next highest team Wis where Mich is 0-1. That would make OSU the 2 and Mich the 3.


March 6th, 2013 at 12:09 AM ^

Use this handy gif to look up any permutation:

And obviously discard the lower half where Indiana wins tonight. I think the main thing is just to think that we need to win out and not be the #5. Aside from the more important fact that that gives us a share of the conference championship and a banner to hang.


Though if I had my choice I would love to play those fuckers from Wisconsin again.

Bursley Blue

March 6th, 2013 at 12:36 PM ^

I know that, but I was assuming the outcomes of these three games:

Wisconsin over Penn St

Michigan State over Northwestern

Ohio State over Illinois (in Columbus)

If those three games happen like that, Michigan will be a 3 seed with two wins and a 5 seed with 1 or 2 loses.


March 6th, 2013 at 8:28 AM ^

Yeah, depending on how it shakes out, I'd want to stay out of Indiana's hair until the very end, if we even get that far, meaning I'd like to not be in their half(the top half of 1, 4, 5 and the bottom half 2 or 3)

Honestly, no matter what way I look at it, I just want a shot at Wisconsin again.  I still have PTSD after that game.  Hell bring back Penn State too.  Ugh.


March 6th, 2013 at 8:33 AM ^

I found this interesting - TeamRankings ran their simulated seasons algorithm after the Indiana-Ohio State game last night, it would seem:


Team Quarter Semi Champ Win
1.3 Indiana 100.00% 86.83% 62.66% 45.33%
2.8 Ohio State 99.63% 68.03% 36.01% 15.21%
3.3 Michigan St. 98.21% 58.00% 26.38% 9.88%
3.4 Wisconsin 98.39% 59.49% 25.95% 11.39%
4.2 Michigan 96.19% 54.15% 21.56% 9.98%

So, compared to yesterday's results on the same site, Indiana doesn't lose too much ground (average seeding of 1.1 yesterday), and Ohio State obvious gains (average seeding of 4.3 yesterday). Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State all slide slightly, in their estimation, but we remain essentially a 4-seed in this scenario, so after tracking this for a few days, the highest probability by their model seems to be a 3-4 seed for us. Once again, I would love to see their algorithm's assumptions, just out of curiosity.

EDIT: As clarification, this is their projection for the BTT. Apologies for not mentioning it earlier.


March 6th, 2013 at 9:45 AM ^

Michigan can be a 2, 3, 4, or 5 seed depending on how we do (and how other games fall).  This runs permutations of each scenario, and in this case Michigan spends more time around a 4 seed than we do a 5 seed, which sounds about right.

It'd be interesting to look at a distribution of the seeds.


March 6th, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

That's not necessarily true. If they found that Michigan had a 50% chance at a 5-seed, a 25% chance ata 4-seed, 20% chance at a 3-seed, and a 5% chance at a 2-seed, that would give Michigan an average of 4.2. In fact, it's very hard (not imposible) to get a scenario where the 5-seed isn't the most likely outcome for us. That's just because they think we will lose to Indiana.


March 6th, 2013 at 12:19 PM ^

You're right.

I suppose what I meant is that there are more likely scenarios where Michigan is a 4 seed than a 5 seed.  For example, Michigan being bumped down to a 5 seed most likely depends on losses by Wisconsin to Penn State, MSU to Northwestern, Ohio State to Illinois, or a combination of them.  None of them are particularly likely, IMO.


March 6th, 2013 at 9:14 AM ^

I think this is seeding for the BTT. Out of all scenarios, Michigan ends up with the lowest average seed. We're the only one that seems to have a better chance at a 5-seed than a 3-seed or higher. I think that is because they expect Michigan to lose to Indiana, which would basically guarantee us the 5-seed. If they expected Michigan to win that game, Michigan State would likely be predicted as the 5-seed with Wisconsin a close second. Indiana would still be on top with OSU and Michigan right behind them.


March 6th, 2013 at 10:18 AM ^

Based on the handy tiebreaker scenario image that was posted, the current possibilities are:

2 seed - 9.38% (6 of 64)
3 seed - 15.62% (10 of 64)
4 seed - 28.1% (18 of 64)
5 seed - 46.9% (30 of 64)

Beat Purdue:

2 seed - 18.75% (6 of 32)
3 seed - 25% (8 of 32)
4 seed - 31.25% (10 of 32)
5 seed - 25% (8 of 32)

Lose to Purdue:

2 seed - 0%
3 seed - 6.25% (2 of 32)
4 seed - 25% (8 of 32)
5 seed - 68.75% (22 of 32)

To have any shot at the #2 seed, we'll need to win out and have Illinois beat OSU.


March 6th, 2013 at 10:44 AM ^

2 or 3 seed doesn't matter. Those seeds get roughly equivalent likely quarterfinal games against unpredictable teams that can go off or lay an egg (Minnesota or Illinois).* There are 5 teams that have clearly separated themselves in the conference, therefore, the game to avoid is that 4-5 quarterfinal (and obviously you want to have the first round bye).

In short, we not only need to win out, but also root for State tonight.


*Arguably, if current seeds hold, the 1 seed would get a tougher game than either the 2 or 3, as they'd play an Iowa team potentially playing for a tourney birth, but I think Iowa is in that 'not quite good enough' place that Northwestern's occupied the past few years.


March 6th, 2013 at 10:28 AM ^

Incidentally, not a fan of this tiebreaker process. This is why you want to actually have a schedule where you play all of these other good teams at home instead of missing them as we did with WI and MN this year. Sure you might lose that home game but you'll probably win and that will help under this tiebreaker. Head to head is fine when teams play a full home and home but with the unbalanced schedule we wind up losing a lot of these tiebreakers because of the Wisconsin loss. This whole thing would shake out differently if Wisconsin had had to come to Ann Arbor. It seems to me that a better tiebreaker in cases where you play once would be using the combined conference records of the teams that you had to play on the road. That would reflect the advantage that IN gets by not having to play @WI and that WI gets by not having to play @MI as the cumulative winning % of the teams that they played on the road is less than than it is for us. Teams that played a harder schedule, and this applies to MSU as well, should receive a benefit rather than a penalty for that in seeding.


March 6th, 2013 at 12:45 PM ^

If we win out, we secure at least a 4-seed due to Wisc/MSU losing.

  • 6 out of the 16 possible outcomes have us at the 2-seed. This happens if Illinois beats OSU and Wisconsin loses either of their games.
  • 2 out of 16 possible outcomes have us at the 4-seed. This happens if Wisconsin wins out and OSU beats Illinois.
  • The other 8 possible outcomes have us at the 3-seed.

If we beat Purdue, but lose to Indiana we will either be a 4-seed or a 5-seed.

  • 8 out of the 16 possbile outcomes have us at the 4-seed. This happens if  either Wisconsin or MSU lose both of their remaining games, i.e. the loser of this matchup also loses their last game. ([email protected], [email protected])
  • The other 8 possible outcomes have us at the 5-seed. This happens if both MSU and Wisconsin win one of their games. Since they should both win their last game, this essentially cements Michigan as a 5-seed if they lose to Indiana.

If we lose to Purdue, but beat Indiana we will be at highest a 3-seed.

  • 2 out of the 16 possible outcomes have us as the 3-seed. This happens if Wisconsin loses out and NW beats MSU.
  • 8 out of the 16 possible outcomes have us as the 4-seed. This happens if MSU loses out, Wisconsin wins out, or MSU wins out AND Wisconsin loses out.
  • The other 6 of the possible 16 outcomes have us as the 5-seed. This happens if Wisconsin goes 1-1 and MSU gets at least 1 win.

If we lose out, we are the 5-seed.


Overall breakdown:

  • 30 out of 64 possible outcomes have us at the 5-seed.
  • 18 out of 64 possible outcomes have us at the 4-seed.
  • 10 out of 64 possible outcomes have us at the 3-seed.
  • 6 out of 64 possible outcomes have us at the 2-seed.

Winning at least one game drops the 30 outcomes resulting in a  5-seed to 14, which would make the 4-seed the likeliest outcome.

Winning tonight brings the overall breakdown to this:

  • 8 out of 32 possible outcomes would have us at the 5-seed.
  • 10 out of 32 possible outcomes would have us at the 4-seed.
  • 8 out of 32 possible outcomes would have us at the 3-seed.
  • 6 out of 32 possible outcomes would have us at the 2-seed.

As you can see, winning tonight drastically shifts our chances from likely 4/5 seed to almost a 44% chance of a 2/3 seed. However, if you consider that it is extremely unlikely for MSU or Wisconsin to lose to NW and PSU, Indiana becomes a must-win game to stay out of the 5-seed.

If we lose tonight and you assume that MSU and Wisconsin won't lose their last games, Wisconsin beating MSU is the only way that we get the 4-seed instead of the 5-seed.

Basically, if we win tonight, MSU winning on Thursday gives us the best shot at higher seeds. If we lose tonight, Wisconsin gives us the best shot at higher seeds.