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2015 Big Ten Tournament Tiebreakers

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So what scenarios give Purdue a double bye in Chicago?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

There is one game left in the Big Ten regular season and two double byes out there. Purdue can finish anywhere from the 3 seed to the 6 seed, but getting the 3 or the 4 means a bye all the way to Friday and a game against a tired team that has already played at least one game. People can talk all they want about wanting the 5 or 6 for an easier first game to get one more win, but I want the double bye. If we're going to Chicago the objective is to win the damn thing, and history has shown it is damn hard to do that unless you start on Friday.

So let's look at the scenarios as Purdue, Iowa, Michigan State, and Ohio State are all 11-6 and tied for the 3 and 4 spots:

Direct two-team tiebreakers:

Here is the official information for tiebreaking from the Big Ten:

TWO-TEAM TIE

1. Results of head-to-head competition during the regular season.

2. 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.

  • A. When arriving at another pair of tied teams while comparing records, use each team's record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to their own tie-breaking procedures), rather than the performance against the individual tied teams.
  • B. When comparing records against a single team or a group of teams, the higher winning percentage shall prevail, even if the number of games played against the team or group is unequal (i.e., 2-0 is better than 3-1); in the case of tied percentages vs. the team or group of 1.000 or .000 the following shall apply: 2-0 is better than 1-0; 0-1 is better than 0-2.

This comes into play only if Purdue is tied with one team. Purdue would win the tiebreaker with Iowa based on Purdue winning the season's only meeting with the Hawkeyes. Purdue would lose a two-team tiebreaker with Michigan State because of last night's loss. Purdue and Ohio State split the season series, but since the Buckeyes beat Maryland (who will finish at least second) they would have the edge on Purdue. The same is true if both Purdue and Ohio State win this weekend because Ohio State plays Wisconsin.

Multi-team tiebreakers

This is where it gets nutty. Again, let's go to what the Big Ten says:

MULTIPLE-TEAM TIE

1. Results of head-to-head competition during the regular season.

  • A. When comparing records against a single team or a group of teams, the higher winning percentage shall prevail, even if the number of games played against the team or group are unequal (i.e., 2-0 is better than 3-1); in the case of tied percentages vs. the team or group of 1.000 or .000 the following shall apply: 2-0 is better than 1-0; 0-1 is better than 0-2.
  • B. After the top team among the tied teams is determined, the second team is ranked by its record among the original tied teams, not the head-to-head record vs. the remaining team(s).

2. If the remaining teams are still tied, then each tied team's record shall be compared to the team occupying the highest position in the final regular-season standings, continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.

So basically, a three-way or four-way tie is decided by head-to-head between all teams tied. So here we go:

Purdue ties with Iowa and Ohio State:

Records: Iowa is 2-1 vs. this group, Purdue is 2-1, and Ohio State is 1-3. That separates Purdue and Iowa as the top teams. Since they would still be tied, part 2 comes into play, and Iowa's win over Maryland gives them advantage over Purdue despite Purdue beating Iowa head-to-head. That doesn't make a damn bit of sense, but it is the way this reads because of the "If the remaining teams are still tied".

Purdue ties with Michigan State and Iowa:

Records: Michigan State is 2-0 against this group, Purdue is 1-1, Iowa is 0-2. Michigan State would get the highest seed here and since Purdue beat Iowa they get the second spot.

Purdue ties with Michigan State and Ohio State:

Records: Purdue is 1-2 against this group, Michigan State is 2-0, and Ohio State is 1-2. Michigan State gets the highest seed, Purdue and Ohio State stay tied at 1-1, and the "highest team in the standings" comes into play again, with their win over Maryland prevailing.

All four teams tie:

Records: Michigan State would be 3-0, Purdue would be 2-2, Iowa would be 2-2, and Ohio State would be 2-3. Michigan State gets the highest seed and Purdue and Iowa would remain tied, thus bringing in the "highest team in the standings" clause to screw us yet again. Ohio State would get the six, Michigan State would get the three, Iowa the four, and Purdue the five.

So how does Purdue get a double bye?

The first key is to obviously beat Illinois. The way I read these rules I don't think Purdue can get a double bye if all four teams lose. That gets Purdue to 12-6 and gives them a shot, at least. We probably want Iowa to beat Northwestern, but I don't think it matters what they do. We would need, at minimum...

...Indiana to beat Michigan State...

... or Wisconsin to beat Ohio State.

So that is what we need. the way I interpret the rules above Purdue would finish at least second in any three-way tie involving Iowa, and that means the four seed.

So it is not completely in our hands anymore, but since we need to beat Illinois anyway we should hope for the best.