We've all been so distracted by ole Kelvin Sanctions down at IU that we've almost lost sight of a great Big Ten basketball season and what lies ahead of us.
After Sampson is fired on Friday, we'll all be able to get back to business and focus on what truly looks to be a dogfight to the finish. Of course, the league caving in and giving all the money-grubbers the conference tourney they wanted means that it really isn't important where you finish, but at Purdue we really do like adding to our Big Ten championship banners.
After all the hubub of last night's "showdown" between Purdue and Indiana, now the dust has settled and -- surprise! -- Purdue is still alone in first place, albeit by only a half-game now. Point is, though, it's still Purdue's to lose.
The Boilers are 12-2, followed closely by IU and Wisconsin, both at 11-2. MSU follows them at 8-4 and I think we can all agree they're effectively finished.
Here's what those contenders have remaining:
Purdue (12-2) -- Minnesota, Northwestern, @ OSU, @ Michigan. A really tough finish if this was football. It's not, however. I will say we go 3-1 in that stretch, assuming the Baby Boilers play reasonably to their potential. Final record would be 15-3.
Indiana (11-2) -- @ Northwestern, OSU, @ MSU, Minnesota, @ PSU. Those are all winnable games for the Hoosiers, so you have to ask a couple of questions... 1) Will they experience any brainfart/letdowns? 2) Will Sampson's firing have a negative effect on them? I'm going to say the answer is yes to at least one of those, so how many games could they lose? With everything swirling around them, I just don't see them going 5-0 in those games, despite how good they truly are. I'll say they lose to MSU or OSU and win the rest. So they'd go 4-1, for a record of 15-3. And, of course, a head-to-head win over the Boilers.
Wisconsin (11-2) -- @ Illinois, @ OSU, MSU, PSU, @ Northwestern. Wisconsin has swept IU but been swept by Purdue. So what do we make of this team? I'd say overachievers. They're not nearly as good as their 11-2 suggests... although beating this Indiana team twice is impressive. I'll say they also go 4-1 down the stretch, beating Illinois, MSU, PSU and the Mildcats, but being upended at OSU. Final record: 15-3. (Starting to sound familiar?) Of course, now they're in a three-way tie with Purdue and IU and they have the edge on IU but Purdue has the edge on them. And IU, of course, has the edge on Purdue.
So who is in first place? Well, they all are, of course. It becomes a three-way co-champ for the regular season and we all get to hang a banner. And to be honest, I'm not even sure I understand it all. Reader Mo Boiler explains, though:
the tiebreaker is for seeding in the conference tourney (important, i know). The big ten actually has a pretty complicated system. courtesy of Elliot Bloom, Purdue sports information:
"If teams tie then the first tiebreaker is head to head. If multiple teams tie, then its their record against the teams they are tied with. The next tie breaker is your record against the first place team, then second place team and so forth."
Okay, so we'd have multiple teams tied. And the record against the other teams is as follows:
Purdue: 2-1 (2-0 vs Wisco; 0-1 vs IU)
IU: 1-2 (0-2 vs Wisco; 1-0 vs Purdue)
Wisco: 2-2 (2-0 vs IU; 0-2 vs Purdue)
So then if things played out the way I posit above, then Purdue would get the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tourney. I'm not sure how much that would mean but it would be nifty.
I'm not sure what other point I wanted to make so I'm just gonna end here.