A historical breakdown of the Big Ten Tournament

Yesterday we released our first Big Ten Tournament bracket. It was based purely on a hunch. The final version will be released Thursday morning before the first game. Today, we look at the Tournament based on what history tells us:

Bracket_2_medium

 

There are some remarkable historical notes regarding the Tournament. For instance, did you know:

  • A No. 3 seed has NEVER won the Big Ten Tournament. In fact, No. 3 seeds are only 6-11 all-time in the Tournament. Sorry, Boilermakers. You should have held on to that No. 2 seed.
  • The Tournament has been won by a No. 1 or No. 2 in each of the last seven seasons and nine of the 11 seasons the Tournament has been held. A No. 4 seed (Michigan in 1998) and a No. 6 seed (Iowa in 2001) are the only other seeds to record a Tournament title.
  • No. 5 seeds have the second worst all-time record in the tournament at 5-11. That's only better than No. 11 seeds.

That's just the beginning. Let's break down each team's chances of winning this year's Tournament, taking history into consideration. Keep in mind, this bracket is based purely on historical FACTS. It doesn't mean we believe these results will happen. Also, there are two sets of records because of game vacated due to NCAA violations. We are using the records that include ALL games played, not the NCAA adjusted records. And yes, we love our "historical prediction" oxymoron.

No. 1 Michigan State - Historical Prediction: 2nd place

  • The good news: No. 1 seeds have won the Big Ten Tournament in three of the last four years. They have at least reached the Championship game in each of the last five years.
  • The bad news: Despite recent history, there is precedence for the No. 1 seed being upset in the Quarterfinals. In the first six Big Ten Tournaments, the No. 1 seed lost in the Quarterfinals four times.
  • More bad news: Michigan State has not won the Tournament since 2000. In fact, the Spartans have not even reached the Finals since 2000. They are 12-9 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament and only 6-5 in the Quarterfinals.

What this tells us: Recent history tells us that Michigan State is the favorite to win the Tournament, but it also tells us that the Spartans historically struggle. With a 7-4 record in its first game, MSU will reach the Semis. No. 1 seeds are 6-1 all-time in the Semis so they will advance to the Championship where they will lose to Illinois.

 

No. 2 Illinois - Historical Prediction: Champion

  • The good news: Illinois has the best record in the Tournament by a long shot. The Illini are 21-9 all-time. Wisconsin has the next best record at 14-9. Even better for Illinois is that six of their nine losses have come against Michigan State and Wisconsin, which are in the other half of the bracket.
  • More good news: No. 2 seeds have won the most titles (five). That includes the last time Illinois was a No. 2 seed in 2003.
  • Even more good news: Illinois is a remarkable 10-1 in the Quarterfinals. The Illini have only one winless finish in Tournament history.
  • The bad news: For having the best all-time record by such a huge margin, Illinois has only two Big Ten Tournament titles to show for it. That's because the Illini have lost in the Tournament Championship four times.

What this tells us: It will be hard to upset Illinois in the Quarterfinals. They are the most likely team to reach the Finals, but with a 2-4 record in the Championship game, they won't necessarily win it. It should be noted, however, that two of those Finals losses came when they were the No. 10 and No. 11 seeds. Michigan State historically struggles in the Tournament, giving Illinois the edge in the Championship game.

No. 3 Purdue - Historical Prediction: Lose in Quarterfinals

  • The bad news - No. 3 seeds are a dismal 6-11 all-time in the Tournament and have never won the title. In fact, the last time a No. 3 seed even won a game was 2005 when the Badgers reached the final before losing to No. 1 Illinois.
  • More bad news - Purdue is an even worse 4-11 all-time in the Tournament (tied with Northwestern for worst record) and has never won the title. The Boilermakers haven't even reached the Championship game since 1998.
  • The only good news - Purdue was the No. 3 seed in 1998 when it reached the final. That team was one of only two No. 3 seeds to make it that far.
What this tells us: Purdue will be hard pressed to win it all. The Boilers might not even win a game. They are tied with Penn State for most winless finishes with eight.

No. 4 Wisconsin - Historical Prediction: Lose in Semifinals

  • The good news - The Badgers have the second best all-time record in the Tournament at 14-9. They have reached the Championship game in four of the last five years, including two titles. In those five seasons, UW is 10-3 in the Tournament.
  • The bad news - No. 4 seeds are 10-10 all-time in the Tournament and have lost to the No. 5 seed in the Quarterfinals five of the last six years. The No. 4 seed has only won the title only once (Michigan in 1998) and it ended being vacated because of NCAA violations.
  • Just plain news - The Badgers are tied with three teams for the second least amount of winless finishes with four. Unfortunately, one of those teams is Ohio State, so something has to give.

What this tells us: Wisconsin has done very well in the Tournament lately, but the last time the Badgers were a No. 4 seed, they hardly put up a fight against No. 5 Indiana. UW is also only 1-2 against Ohio State in the Tournament.

No. 5 Ohio State - Historical Prediction: Lose in Quarterfinals

  • The good news - Ohio State is 5-2 in its last three Tournaments, including a Championship in 2007. No. 5 seeds have beat No. 4 seeds five of the last six years.
  • The bad news - The one No. 5 seed that lost to the No. 4 seed in the last six years was Ohio State, last year to Michigan State.
  • More bad news - A No. 5 seed has never even reached the Championship Game. They have the second worst all-time record at 5-11. That's only better than the No. 11 seeds.
  • Just plain news - Ohio State is 13-9 all-time in the Tournament, good for the third best record. They are 5-4 in the Quarterfinals.

What this tells us: The numbers don't really give us any major trends or indications as to what the Buckeyes will do. Wisconsin and Ohio State are evenly matched based on the Tournament numbers, so we'll use recent history as a tiebreaker, giving Wisconsin the win. The historical failure of No. 5 seeds also hurts the Buckeyes, especially because they were part of that failure last season.

No. 6 Penn State - Historical Prediction: Lose in Semifinals

  • The good news - No. 6 seeds are 10-1 all-time in their first round games. They have also advanced to the Semis in each of the last three seasons. Surprisingly, No. 6 seeds have the third highest all-time winning percentage (.667) and are the lowest seed to win a Tournament (Iowa in 2001). No. 6 seeds have a 6-4 record against No. 3 seeds.
  • The bad news - Penn State is 5-11 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament and only 1-7 since 2002. The Nittany Lions are tied with Purdue for most winless finishes with eight.
  • Just plain news - Penn State has never been a No. 6 seed or higher. That means that the history of No. 6 seeds is probably more relevant than their own history in the Tournament.
What this tells us: A loss to Indiana in the first round is highly unlikely. A win over Purdue in the Quarterfinals is very likely. However, the run will end in the Semis because a No. 6 seed has never made the finals.

No. 7 Michigan - Historical Prediction: Lose in First Round

  • The good news - Michigan is 3-0 all-time against Iowa in the Tournament.
  • The bad news - Michigan is 8-10 all-time in the Tournament and No. 7 seeds are a dismal 6-11. No. 7 seeds are also only 4-7 against No. 10 seeds. A No. 7 seed has never reached the final.
What this tells us: So what gives? No. 10 seeds have a 3-game advantage over No. 7 seeds but Michigan is 3-0 against Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they are only 4-4 in the first round and 0-1 as a No. 7 seed.

No. 8 Minnesota - Historical Prediction: Lose in Quarterfinals

  • The good news - No. 8 seeds are 8-3 all-time against No. 9 seeds. Minnesota is 1-0 in the first round as a No. 8 seed and 2-1 against Northwestern in the Tournament.
  • The bad news - Minnesota is 8-11 all-time and has never reach the finals. No. 8 seeds have only one appearance in the final.

What this tells us: Minnesota has a great chance of beating Northwestern in the first round and they could upset Michigan State in the quarterfinals. The only other time Minnesota was a No. 8 seed (1998) they upset No. 1 Michigan State in the second round. But overall, No. 8's are only 2-6 against No. 1 seeds.

No. 9 Northwestern - Historical Prediction: Lose in First Round

  • The bad news - Northwestern has a 4-11 record in the Big Ten Tournament and has never even reached the Semis. They also have seven winless finishes. No. 9 seeds are only 3-8 against No.8 seeds.
  • The good news - The No. 9 seed (Michigan) beat the No. 8 seed (Iowa) last season.
What this tells us: It doesn't look for the Kitty Cats. They're out in the first round.

No. 10 Iowa - Historical Prediction: Lose in Quarterfinals

  • The good news - Iowa is 4-2 all-time in the first round and is 13-9 all-time in the Tournament.
  • More good news - No. 10 seeds are 7-4 against the No. 7 seeds.
  • The bad news - This is Iowa's lowest seed ever and the Hawkeyes are 0-3 against Michigan in the Tournament. Also, if they were to make it to the Quarterfinals, No. 10 seeds are 1-6 against No. 2 seeds.
What this tells us: Like we mentioned above, No. 10 seeds historically beat No. 7 seeds, but Iowa is 0-3 against Michigan. That's pretty much a wash. But we're giving the edge to Iowa because they are 4-2 in the first round as opposed to Michigan's 4-4 record. A win over Illinois in the second round isn't likely, however.

No. 11 Indiana - Historical Prediction: Lose in First Round

  • The good news - Indiana has reached the quarterfinals in every year of the Big Ten Tournament.
  • Just plain news - No. 11 Illinois made a run to the Big Ten Tournament final in 1999.
  • The bad news - No. 11 seeds are 3-11 all-time in the Tournament and all three of those wins came in 1999 during Illinois' run.

What this tells us: Indiana will have a nice, short drive home Thursday night.

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