Maryland men's basketball will clinch a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament this month by winning either of its final two games, starting with Illinois at Xfinity Center on Thursday night.
Indiana beat Iowa on Tuesday night, leaving the top half of the league standings looking like this:
1. Indiana (14-3)
2. Michigan State (11-5)
3. Maryland (11-5)
4. Wisconsin (11-5)
5. Iowa (11-6)
6. Purdue (11-6)
7. Ohio State (11-6)
Maryland cannot lose a head-to-head tiebreaker to either Iowa or Ohio State, who can each do no better than a tie with Maryland as long as the Terrapins win one of their final two games.
Purdue and Wisconsin play in a season finale on Sunday. Somebody will lose that game, leaving one of those teams (at best) with six losses. That would be Maryland's floor, in such a scenario where the Terps do not lose out.
Using a scenario simulator based on the results of every remaining Big Ten game, we can't find any outcome that leaves Maryland on the outside looking in for a double bye. And I think that's correct. (Hat tip to good friend Josh Stirn for pointing me to the simulator.)
Even if there's a four-team logjam, Maryland's OK.
For the sake of a hypothetical, let's imagine Purdue beats Wisconsin in those teams' season finale, Maryland splits its last two games, so do the Badgers and those three teams finish tied at 12-6. If Iowa beats Michigan over the weekend, four teams would be 12-6.
In this case, Maryland's OK. The Terps are 3-2 against Iowa, Wisconsin and Purdue, which would be the best record of anyone in the group in this farfetched scenario. They'd be the No. 3 seed, assuming Michigan State doesn't lay an egg against Rutgers or Ohio State .
And if Iowa loses to Michigan, the Terps would land behind Purdue but ahead of Wisconsin on a round-robin record tiebreaker between the three. (Remember, Iowa beat Purdue twice, so shedding the Hawkeyes from this scenario would make Purdue's record look a lot better in a new round robin.).
This has been a lot of information. What's the takeaway?
The Big Ten decides two-way tiebreakers by head-to-head record, which puts Maryland in a dominant position against Iowa and Ohio State (whom Maryland swept) as long as the Terps win one more game.
The Big Ten decides multi-team tiebreakers by round-robin record between the tied teams, and there's no combination of team ties that results in a 12-6 Maryland team finishing outside the Big Ten's top four.
So, now, it's simple: The Terps get a double bye with a win against Illinois. They'd better not mess it up.