Rooting Guide for Season's End

Updated through Ohio State-Illinois. Purdue will be the #7 seed and will face #10 Nebraska.

(Sorry about the wall of words. There's really no other good way to do this.)

aghast at the thought of
rooting for Tom Crean

You might not be aware of this, but Purdue could actually finish ... sixth? It's actually possible that they could finish alone in sixth place in the conference, which would be amazing when you consider how they were playing not too long ago. It's also possible that Christina Hendricks could appear at the door of my hotel room with some story about her key not working and blah blah blah and would I mind if she stayed with me. (Answer: that depends. Are you an IU fan?)

What is somewhat more likely is that Purdue will finish tied with one or more teams for something between sixth and eighth, and their resulting seed will be something between sixth and ninth. In case you don't think that will make a difference, keep in mind that the #6 seed will play the 9 PM game against Northwestern or Nebraska, and the #9 seed will play the noon game against the #8. For NIT purposes, you want the #6 or #7 seed - ideally the #6 to set up a Friday game against #3 instead of #2. (Also, the #6 seed pretty much assumes that Purdue won both games this week ... otherwise you're talking about playing until at least Saturday.)

Big Ten Tournament tiebreaking procedures, in short:

  1. Head-to-head competition. Unlike the NFL, the number of games played does not matter: all that matters is winning percentage. (This is key, as you'll see below.)
  2. Record against each team or set of tied teams in the standings, starting with the champion (or co-champions) and descending until records differ.
  3. Strength of DI schedule (W-L record of DI opponents, that is).
  4. Coin toss. Yes, you can do a coin toss among three or more teams. You never saw Friday Night Lights? (Yes, that coin toss happened in real life, too, although one of the teams was different.) Go fix that and come back when you're done.

So, here's where we stand. Purdue cannot finish in a tie with Minnesota unless they beat the Gophers, and not having faced them this season yet, that 1-0 record would give Purdue the edge in a two-way tie. (And by beating the Gophers, they now have that edge.) Purdue split against Illinois and Iowa, so those ties would go to step 2, which we'll cover in a bit.

Like Purdue, Minnesota also split against Illinois and Iowa. Iowa played Illinois once and beat them. So any tie that includes either team but not both will go to Purdue, thanks to everyone else being .500. If Illinois and Iowa tie with Purdue, and Minnesota isn't included, then Iowa has the advantage; if all four teams tie, Iowa and Purdue split out first.

OK ... record against each team or set of tied teams. (What does that mean? It means that you ignore tiebreakers in other groups when computing a tiebreaker yourself: you look at record against all teams with a particular conference record.) Purdue lost to Michigan tonight and Illinois will finish against Ohio State, but the other games against teams ranked 1-5 are done, so we can look at them individually and even as a group (you'll see why in a moment).

Indiana. Illinois 1-0, Minnesota 1-1, Iowa 0-2, Purdue 0-2. Bad for Purdue. Unfortunately, they're kind of included at the top no matter what.
Michigan. Iowa 0-1, Minnesota 0-1, Illinois 0-2, Purdue 0-2. The loss to Michigan was painful, but doesn't hurt them much since no one else beat Michigan.
Michigan State. Minnesota 1-1, Iowa 0-1, Illinois 0-1, Purdue 0-2. Again, bad for Purdue. In general, root against Michigan State.
Ohio State. Illinois 1-0*, Purdue 0-1, Iowa 0-1, Minnesota 0-1. Bad for everyone except Illinois, even if the Buckeyes split. A sweep is very bad. Root against Illinois.
Wisconsin. Purdue 1-0, Iowa 1-1, Minnesota 1-1, Illinois 0-2. (Which contender struggled against second-tier teams?) Good for Purdue. Root for Wisconsin.
*will change after this week's game

Take note of a couple of things: there are a lot of losses in that group, and most of the wins are by Minnesota, who can't win a tie with Purdue because of the head-to-head loss it would require. It's a lot better than it seems.

Let's roll. (I was totally going to do a really cool chart for this with logos, but then I remembered my work laptop doesn't have Photoshop. Just pretend it's there.)

  • Purdue wins out, all others lose out. Purdue is 9-9 and #6, no tiebreakers required. Commence rooting for Nebraska. No longer possible with the loss to Michigan.
  • Purdue ties with Minnesota. Boilers win head-to-head tiebreaker.
  • Purdue ties with Illinois. It depends who ties for first. If it's Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan, Purdue wins the tiebreaker (1-3 vs. 1-4). Any other combination of teams, tied or not, goes to Illinois because of their record against IU and their better record against everyone other than UM and UW.
  • Purdue ties with Iowa. Purdue's win over Michigan (necessary if they are to tie only Iowa) gives them the advantage in any combination or order of teams; Iowa's only win is against Wisconsin, Purdue is 1-0 against them, and even if MSU is also tied (Purdue 0-2, Iowa 0-1 makes up for the Wisconsin difference), Purdue's 1-1 record against Michigan would take care of the rest. This was actually somewhat wrong, because Iowa and Purdue could tie for eighth at 8-10. If that happens, see the four-way tie below.
  • Purdue ties with Minnesota and Illinois. Purdue wins the tiebreaker based on head-to-head records (Purdue 2-1, Illinois 2-2, Minnesota 1-2).
  • Purdue ties with Minnesota and Iowa. Again, Purdue wins the tiebreaker (Purdue 2-1, Iowa 2-2, Minnesota 1-2). 
  • Purdue ties with Iowa and Illinois. Iowa wins the tiebreaker, Purdue finishes next (2-1, Purdue 2-2, Illinois 1-2).
  • Purdue ties with all three teams. Purdue and Iowa win the first tiebreaker based on head-to-head records (3-2 vs. 2-3 for Minnesota and Illinois). Breaking this tie: even though unlike the NFL, we don't go back to individual head-to-head record, it doesn't matter because they split. 
    • If they tied at 9-9, then see above: Purdue would have the advantage in any combination of teams 1-5.
    • If they tied at 8-10, then the only wins Purdue and Iowa have are against Wisconsin, so it depends on who Wisconsin is tied with:
      • No one. Purdue wins the tiebreaker (1-0 vs. 1-1).
      • Both MSU and Michigan. Iowa wins the tiebreaker (1-3 vs. 1-4), even if Ohio State is also part of the tie. (Indiana can't be, because MSU still has to play Wisconsin.)
      • Either MSU or Michigan. That cancels out Purdue's 1-0 vs. Wisconsin, .000 winning percentages eliminate the rest, so we go to ... 10th place? 
        • Northwestern. Iowa wins the tiebreaker (2-0 vs. the Wildcats to Purdue's 1-1).
        • Nebraska. Purdue wins it (1-0 vs. 0-2, as Nebraska would have to beat Iowa to send the Hawkeyes to 8-10).
        • Both. Purdue wins it (2-1 vs. 2-2).

So ... for whom should you be rooting the rest of the way?

This guy. Root for the guy with
the big head. (No, not that one.)


Purdue over Michigan
√ Nebraska over Minnesota (for Purdue to have a shot at sixth)
Summary: Purdue can't finish 6th by themselves with the loss to Michigan; Minnesota blows the same chance with the loss to Nebraska. Boilers can be part of a four-way tie for 6th, a three-way tie for 7th, or a two-way tie for 8th.  


Wisconsin over Michigan State (to help with Iowa and Illinois tiebreakers)
Summary: Purdue now loses a two-way tie with Illinois for 8th, should it occur.


√Purdue over Minnesota
Nebraska over Iowa (to prevent a tie with Iowa and not Minnesota)
Summary: 6th and 9th are no longer possible, thanks to Purdue's win (which meant they would finish ahead of Minnesota) and Iowa's win (their 9th in conference play). If Illinois beats Ohio State, Purdue will be #8 and Minnesota #9; if Illinois loses, then it'll be #7 Purdue, #8 Illinois, and #9 Minnesota. In either case, Purdue will face Illinois in the 11 AM game ... just like boilerdowd said. (There were other possibilities. Iowa just ruined them.) If I were paying attention, I would have noticed that #7 and #8 do not play each other; Purdue cannot face Illinois. An Illini win will pit Purdue and Minnesota in a rematch of today's game; a loss will give Purdue #10 Nebraska.


Wisconsin over Penn State (same)Ohio State over Illinois (generally speaking, avoid being tied with Illinois)
Michigan over Indiana (to help with Illinois tiebreaker)
Northwestern over Michigan State (mostly, although there might be a scenario where we'd root for MSU)
Summary: Other results plus the OSU win make the last two games irrelevant for Purdue: they are the #7 and will face #10 Nebraska.

Boilers Run out of Gas In Spite of TJohn's Heroics

'The Marcius Game' and cutting down the nets...Basketball gumbo.