Indiana will be either the No. 7 or No. 8 seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament.
That much is certain. The Hoosiers (19-11, 9-8 Big Ten) cannot finish in the top six in the conference standings as all six of the teams ahead of IU have 11 conference wins. Indiana has one game left in the regular season, a home game with Michigan State on Saturday.
The teams ranked ninth thru 14th in the Big Ten have seven wins or less so there’s no way any of those teams can get into the No. 7 or No. 8 consideration.
As of today, Indiana is tied for seventh place with Illinois, both with 9-8 records. If Illinois beat Purdue in its regular season finale and IU lost to Michigan State, the Illini could get the No. 7 seed. Any other scenario, however, would give Indiana the No. 7 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
That’s because IU holds the tiebreaker on the Illini. The two teams only met once this season, and Indiana won that game in Champaign, 80-74, on Jan. 18.
So let’s look at what Indiana’s possibilities are for who it would play in the Big Ten Tournament:
If IU is the No. 7 seed it would meet the No. 10 seed in the third game of the day on Thursday, March 12, at the Big Ten Tournament. Right now there are three teams in contention for the number 9, 10 and 11 seeds. Those teams are Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern.
So if IU does get the No. 7 seed it would face one of those teams. If the Hoosiers were to win that game, they would play the No. 2 seed in the third game of the day on Friday. The No. 2 seed will likely be Maryland.
If somehow IU drops to the No. 8 seed in the Big Ten, it would pay the No. 9 seed at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Again, that No. 9 seed will come from a pool of teams that includes Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern.
If IU does end up in that game and found a way to win its first game, next up would be the No. 1 seed on Friday and that will likely be Wisconsin.
So Indiana knows it will play either Minnesota, Michigan or Northwestern in the first game of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday, March 12.
The bigger sense of urgency for the Hoosiers is finding a way to win on Saturday and improve their NCAA Tournament stock.