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Wisconsin basketball: rooting interests 3/5/20

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The Badgers are tied for first place. The Badgers have one game left in the regular season. Who else should we be cheering for?

Northwestern v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

College basketball robot Jon Rothstein has informed us all that this is, indeed, March so it is now time to scoreboard watch as the race for the B1G regular season title comes down to the finish line. Most (all?) of us would have been extremely surprised a month ago if you told us that the Badgers would be in the mix for the conference title come March 5th, but here we freaking are, in first place, friends!

B1G Standings

Team Conference W/L Overall W/L Games behind Next game
Team Conference W/L Overall W/L Games behind Next game
Wisconsin 13-6 20-10 - at Indiana, Saturday
Michigan State 13-6 21-9 - vs. Ohio State, Sunday
Maryland 13-6 23-7 - vs. Michigan, Sunday
Illinois 12-6 20-9 0.5 at Ohio State, Thursday

Wisconsin would be, due to the tiebreaker rules of the B1G, the No. 1 seed in the B1G Tournament if the season ended on Wednesday night. Alas, it does not. There are still a number of games to be played and, disgustingly, we will be forced to cheer for the Ohio State Buckeyes in a lot of them.

Just so we are clear: if the Badgers beat Indiana on Saturday they will win at least a share of the B1G regular season title. So let’s assume that happens.

Now, if we want to greedy and try and win the title outright or be the No. 1 seed in the B1G Tournament...we can talk about that.

  • First, we need Ohio State to beat Illinois on Thursday night. The game is in Columbus so hopefully the Buckeyes protect home court and knock Illinois out of the discussion. If Illinois were to win and move into a four-way tie with UW, MSU and Maryland...hoo buddy, now we are cooking with gas. Just know this: the Badgers wouldn’t be the 1-seed anymore due to their loss to Illinois bringing down their cumulative record against the three teams with which they’re tied.
  • But we don’t have to worry about that in this imaginary scenario! With OSU beating the Illini, the Badgers are assured the No. 1 seed in the B1G Tournament in any remaining three-way tie with Maryland and MSU.
  • In a two-way tie with Maryland, the Badgers take the top spot due to their 1-0 record against the Terps.
  • In a two-way tie with MSU, where the teams split their two regular season match ups, the next tie-breaker is “Each team’s record vs. the team occupying the highest position in the final regular-season standings (or in the case of a tie for the championship, the next highest position in the regular-season standings), continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.” That would be Maryland, who the Badgers are 1-0 against and the Spartans are 1-1. Yay, No. 1 seed again!
  • To win the conference outright we are forced to, again, cheer for Ohio State and also Michigan which is just an awful thing to type. If the Buckeyes can beat the Spartans (in East Lansing) and the Wolverines can beat the Terps (in College Park) then what you are left with is the B1G Champion Wisconsin Badgers.

Now, this is an unlikely series of events, but the Badgers were, at one point this season, looking like they might miss the NCAA Tournament entirely so let’s just let this all play out.