Michigan State Clinches Double-Bye As Big Ten Goes Full Big Ten On Final Day
UPDATE: Northwestern beat Rutgers, making MSU the fourth seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Spartans will play the winner of Iowa vs. Wisconsin/Ohio State around 2:30 p.m. eastern on Friday.
In a season when the league was dominated by parity (read: mediocrity), it should come as no surprise that the Big Ten descended into utter chaos.
But even by those standards, what transpired Sunday on the league's final day was wild.
Michigan State wrapped its conference slate Saturday with a win, giving the Spartans an 11-8 Big Ten record. MSU was guaranteed to avoid the league's complicated tiebreakers thanks to not being able to make up the Minnesota game, but it needed help to clinch a coveted double-bye in the Big Ten tournament.
In order to avoid playing until Friday next week, State needed three of these four things to happen on Sunday:
- Illinois loss at Purdue
- Maryland loss at Penn State
- Iowa loss at home versus Nebraska
- Northwestern loss at Rutgers
Several hours before the final game even tipped off, MSU had already gotten the three breaks it needed.
Outright regular-season Big Ten champion Purdue, despite limping to the finish line, splitting its final eight league games, held off the Illini.
Maryland choked on pudding at Penn State.
And the bill for the divine intervention from whatever higher power you choose to believe in for the Hawkeyes' 13-point comeback in the final two minutes against MSU last week finally came due in the form of Nebrasketball.
In a year where the difference between the league's No. 2 and No. 12 teams in the final standings is just two games, Sunday's Big Ten action was remarkably on-brand.
What's Left To Be Decided
Michigan State is locked into either the third or fourth seed in the Big Ten tournament, but who they're looking up and down at depends on the results of the league's last two games on Sunday.
Let's lay out the seeding scenarios first.
If Rutgers beats Northwestern, State is the three seed and plays sometime around 9 or 9:30 p.m. Friday. If Northwestern wins, MSU is the four seed and plays sometime around 2:30 or 3 p.m.
Michigan at Indiana has no bearing on MSU's seed, but the winner of that game will be ahead of the Spartans and the loser behind.
Many of the remaining seeds are still uncertain and depend on the outcome of those last two games. Six teams will finish the Big Ten season with nine losses, so a lot has to be settled yet.
Check out the Big Ten's website for the conference tournament bracket, seeding, and game time info.