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A five-way race for the Women’s Basketball Big Ten Title

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Detailing all the championship scenarios for Michigan, Maryland, Ohio State, Iowa, and Indiana

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t watch a whole lot of women’s basketball. To be fair, I don’t watch a ton of men’s hoops, either, but there’s no excuse for missing the end of this women’s season. With just five days left, five teams are within a game of first place. #6 Michigan is out in first place at 12-3 in conference, but #13 Maryland, #17 Ohio State, and #21 Iowa are all half a game out, and #10 Indiana is a game back at 11-4. Here’s how all five can finish, from first place to fifth.

#6 Michigan Wolverines

Record: 21-4 (12-3) | Losses: Nebraska, Michigan State, Northwestern | Remaining games: vs MSU (Thursday), @Iowa (Sunday)

Michigan has a 6-0 record against the next four teams, but they’re 0-3 against the three after that in the standings. They’re 1-2 in their last three games, which is the only reason we’re talking about a team race, but weirdly, they’re 4-2 in their last six, beating each top-five foe once. They’ll get a chance to avenge that MSU loss on Thursday, and then potentially battle for the crown in Carver on Sunday. They’re led by senior Naz Hillmon, who averages 21/9/2. Is she a contender for Big Ten Player of the Year? Probably, but like I said, I don’t watch a ton of games. Why don’t you tell me?

If Michigan wins both remaining games, they’d obviously get the regular season Big Ten title and the 1-seed for the conference tournament. ESPN currently has Michigan as a 2-seed in the Dance, but I’m sure they could play their way to the 1-line by winning out. Now, if Michigan loses....

If Michigan loses both games, they could be at best a 2-seed, and at worst a 4-seed, I think. Maryland and Indiana each only play each other, and Michigan owns the tiebreaker over both, so they’d finish above the loser. If they lost to Michigan State but beat Iowa, they could still win the title if Ohio State loses at least once. They’d be in a tie with potentially Iowa and/or Maryland, but own the tiebreaker over both. If they beat Michigan State and lost to Iowa, they would need Iowa to have already lost to Rutgers in order to win the title.

#13 Maryland Terrapins

Record: 20-7 (12-4) | Losses: Michigan (twice), Ohio State, Indiana | Remaining games: vs Indiana (Friday)

Maryland is in an odd spot. Despite being half a game out from Michigan with a combined three games left between the two, they need just about everything to go their way to win the conference. Should they win, they need Michigan to lose twice in order to pass the Wolverines. Then, even if that happens, they need Ohio State to lose one of their last two and Iowa to lose against Rutgers, because they will have one fewer game played than both those teams. But hey, there is a chance.

If Maryland loses to Indiana, they’re pretty likely to be the five-seed. They’d be 12-5, so they’d need Iowa and Ohio State to lose both in order to finish ahead of them. So, their best case scenario with a win is a very unlikely title, and their best case scenario with a loss is a very unlikely three-seed. Worst cases? They could win and finish fourth, with Iowa and Ohio State winning out and finishing a half-game ahead, and Michigan going 1-1 and owning the tiebreaker for third. And a loss costs them a double-bye in all likelihood.

Maryland’s best player sure looks to be Angel Reese, who averages a double-double with a 17.5/10.5/1.5 line, plus 1.6 steals/game and 1.1 blocks/game. ESPN currently has Maryland as a four-seed in March.

#17 Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 20-5 (12-4) | Losses: Michigan (twice), Maryland, Indiana | Remaining games: vs Penn State (Thursday), @MSU (Sunday)

Ohio State has two chances to improve their record, but like everyone not named Michigan, they don’t control their own destiny. They do play the spoiler role against Iowa, as they would own the tiebreaker if both win out. In order to take the conference title, they need to win theirs, and for Michigan to lose one. They do control their destiny for a two-seed, meaning their worst-case scenario should they win out is second place.

If they split their last two games, things can go a couple different ways. They’d be 13-5, and could technically still win the conference if Michigan went 0-2, Iowa lost to Rutgers, and Indiana beat Maryland. I think. Does 13-5 beat 12-4 this year? That would leave Iowa and Ohio State tied for first, where Ohio State owns the head-to-head. They could also get fourth if Iowa won out, Michigan beat MSU, and Maryland beat Indiana.

If, somehow, Ohio State lost out, they would need Iowa to lose out in order to preserve a double-bye. They could not finish worse than fifth, though, as Nebraska is three games back on the six-line currently. Ohio State has two guards, Sheldon and Mikesel, who combine for nearly 40 a game. They’re a SEVEN seed according to ESPN, which is hard to believe.

#21 Iowa Hawkeyes

Record: 18-7 (12-4) | Losses: Michigan, Ohio State, Maryland, Northwestern | Remaining games: @Rutgers (Thursday), vs Michigan (Sunday)

Back-to-back wins against Indiana by the Hawkeyes blew this race wide open, sending the Hoosiers from first to fifth and keeping Iowa in the title hunt. They do not control their own destiny, though, as mentioned above. If they win both remaining games and Ohio State does the same, it would be the Buckeyes who win the regular season title. Iowa needs Ohio State to lose one or both in order for the Hawkeyes to take that one-seed.

Should Iowa split the remaining games, they could finish as high as first or as low as fourth. A loss to Rutgers wouldn’t eliminate anything for Iowa provided that Ohio State loses a game and Indiana beats Maryland. I looked it up, by the way, and in the scenario where Iowa (and/or Ohio State) is 13-5 and Indiana is 12-4, both would be co-champions by the “games back” method and seeding tiebreakers would be invoked to determine a one-seed. In a three-way tie between Iowa, Ohio State, and Indiana, Ohio State would be 1-1 against the group, Iowa would be 2-1, and Indiana would be 1-2. If Ohio State lost both, and Iowa and Indiana tied, Iowa would own the head-to-head tiebreaker. Sorry, tangent over. If Iowa loses to Michigan, they would finish behind the Wolverines for sure. They would finish ahead of the Indiana-Maryland loser, but behind Ohio State in all likelihood (exception being above three-way tie).

Obviously, if Iowa lost both, they could be the five-seed. They also could be the four, if Maryland beat Indiana, or even the three, if Ohio State also lost both of their remaining games (again, three-way tiebreaker with Iowa, Ohio State, and Indiana). Man, I’m really hoping that three-way tiebreaker comes into play, because it’s hilarious.

The Hawkeyes are projected as a five-seed in the NCAA tournament by ESPN, and are lead by the incredible Caitlin Clark, who averages 27/8/8. Pretty good imo.

#10 Indiana Hoosiers

Record: 19-6 (11-4) | Losses: Michigan, Iowa (twice), Nebraska | Remaining games: @Maryland (Friday)

In three days, Indiana went from title favorite to the five-seed. Those two losses to Iowa eliminated the Hoosiers from the one-seed, as their best-case scenario only leads to a two-seed. If they beat Maryland, they would finish the conference season 12-4. In order to finish ahead of Michigan, the Wolverines would have to lose out and finish 12-5. In order to finish ahead of Iowa, the Hawkeyes would have to lose out and finish 12-6, as Iowa owns the head-to-head tiebreaker should they finish 13-5. The obvious problem being that Iowa plays Michigan. So, the best-case scenario is finishing 12-4, and the loser of Iowa-Michigan also losing their other game. Ohio State would also have to lose one, but not necessarily both as Indiana owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. If Ohio State wins out, Iowa wins out, and Michigan goes 1-1, Indiana would finish fourth even with a win over Maryland. All that to say, beat Maryland for a double-bye and maybe a co-championship, but no one-seed.

If Indiana loses, the only way they get the double-bye is if Ohio State loses out and Iowa doesn’t. Ohio State would be 12-6, Indiana would be 11-5, and the Hoosiers would own the tiebreaker. If Iowa also finished 12-6, Indiana would finish last in that beautiful three-way tiebreaker.

Indiana is a projected four-seed in the NCAA tournament, and have a very balanced stat sheet, with five players averaging double digit points, four averaging 5+ boards and three averaging 3+ assists.

Poll

Who gets the one-seed?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Michigan
    (46 votes)
  • 9%
    Ohio State
    (8 votes)
  • 30%
    Iowa
    (26 votes)
  • 4%
    Maryland
    (4 votes)
84 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How many champions?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    1
    (27 votes)
  • 38%
    2
    (24 votes)
  • 17%
    3??
    (11 votes)
62 votes total Vote Now

Full Schedule

Wednesday: Nebraska at Wisconsin, 6:30 GTZ

Thursday: Michigan State at Michigan, 5PM on BTN; Penn State at Ohio State, 5PM; Iowa at Rutgers, 7PM on BTN; Purdue at Northwestern, 7PM; Illinois at Minnesota, 7PM

Friday: Indiana at Maryland, 7PM on BTN

Sunday: Wisconsin at Purdue, 12PM; Minnesota at Penn State, 1PM; Ohio State at Michigan State, 1:30PM on BTN; Rutgers at Illinois, 2PM; Michigan at Iowa, 3PM on ESPN2; Northwestern at Nebraska, 3:30PM on BTN