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The Big Ten Tournament starts three weeks from today. Here's how the bracket might shake out.
If the season ended today, the Badgers would be the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Wisconsin's 69-41 rout of Northwestern bumped the Badgers a half-game ahead of Michigan in the conference standings.
In this ultra-competitive season, there's bound to be at least a few teams tied in the standings at the end of the season. Luckily for the Badgers, they're sitting pretty nicely in terms of holding tiebreakers over the best teams in the conference.
Here's a look at the 2013 Big Ten Tournament tiebreaking procedures.
So how do the Badgers fare?
- They hold tiebreakers over Indiana and Michigan because of head-to-head victories over both (UW only played each team once this season).
- The tiebreakers get a tad more interesting with Ohio State and Michigan State. Wisconsin split its games with Ohio State, and in order to break the tie, each team compares how it fared against the conference champion. Yes, UW still has an outside shot of winning the conference, but I wouldn't bet on it. Even if the Badgers win out, Indiana would have to drop two of its last four games, which is highly unlikely. For the sake of this scenario, let's say Indiana wins the conference. Wisconsin is 1-0 against the Hoosiers, while Ohio State is 0-1. The Buckeyes still face the Hoosiers one more time, but the Badgers would already win the tiebreaker because they'll own a better winning percentage, regardless of what occurs in the second Ohio State-Indiana meeting.
- We still have to wait to determine the tiebreaker with Michigan State, as well. If the Spartans win the March 7 game against the Badgers at the Breslin Center, then Michigan State takes the tiebreaker (They'd be 2-0 vs. the Badgers). But if Wisconsin wins, and Indiana ultimately wins the conference, UW would top Michigan State. That's because Wisconsin is 1-0 against Indiana and the Spartans have two losses against the Hoosiers.
Hopefully that's not overly confusing, but the Badgers appear nicely situated. They need to take care of business against Nebraska, Purdue and Penn State to close the season, but if they can pull off an upset in East Lansing, they would earn at least a second-place finish in the Big Ten.
The format used above doesn't account for everything, though. I didn't mention cases of three-way ties (those get even more complicated) and it foresees Indiana winning the conference, which isn't certain but looks very likely.
Regardless, much of Wisconsin's fate is in its own hands at this point. Pending a huge collapse, the Badgers are primed for another top-four Big Ten finish under Bo Ryan.
Jay Bilas likes where the Badgers are headed and sees them no lower than a five or six seed in the NCAA tournament (written before Northwestern game).
Despite the early-season struggles, Bo Ryan said he was never concerned about this team.
Wednesday evening's victory at Northwestern pushes Wisconsin into third place in the Big Ten.
The UW frontcourt proved to be far too much for NU to handle.
Jeff Potrykus provides a last look at the Northwestern game.