Breaking down the Big Ten women's soccer tournament seeding

With one game remaining in the Big Ten women’s soccer regular-season, the seeding for the conference tournament is anything but simple.

Before we get into it, however, here’s the current Big Ten conference-only standings. (D= Draw)

Big Ten Conference Standings
Penn State 12 11 0 1 33
Wisconsin 12 9 1 2 28
Michigan 12 8 2 2 26
Rutgers 12 7 1 4 22
Iowa 12 7 1 4 22
Minnesota 12 7 1 4 22
Illinois 12 5 1 6 16
Maryland 12 3 5 4 14
Northwestern 12 3 3 6 12
Ohio State 12 3 3 6 12
Nebraska 12 3 2 7 11
Michigan State 12 3 1 8 10
Indiana 12 2 1 9 7
Purdue 12 2 0 10 6

(Standings made at Operation

Penn State has the No. 1 overall seed locked up, but it is the only team that can relinquish in that feat. Beyond the Nittany Lions, things get a tad more complex.

As it currently stands, Wisconsin has a two-point and one-win lead over Michigan. Wins in the Big Ten are worth three points in the standings, so if the Badgers are victorious over Illinois this weekend, Michigan cannot catch them.

Things change a bit if Wisconsin loses or ties. In either of those cases, Michigan would grab the second seed due to total points and or the due to the fact that they own the tiebreaker over Wisconsin due to them beating the Badgers in a head-to-head matchup.

The complexity ramps up for there in the race for the 4-6 seeds. Currently, Rutgers, Iowa, and Minnesota all have 7-4-1 records. All three teams also have favorable schedules this weekend as the Scarlet Knights take on Ohio State, Iowa faces Nebraska, and the Gophers play Northwestern.

In the case that Rutgers, Iowa, and Minnesota are all victorious, all hell breaks loose.

According to the Big Ten Tournament guidelines, the first tie breaker for three-team ties is, “Standings by points from only those games played between tied teams (results of tied teams versus each other).”

Iowa beat Minnesota, but lost to Rutgers. Rutgers beat Iowa, but then lost to Minnesota. Which of course means Minnesota lost to Iowa but also beat Rutgers.

Again, we’re at a tie.

The next tie-breaker is total conference wins, but since all three teams have seven wins, we go to a third tie-breaker.

Still with me?

This time, the rules state, “Best record by points (three for win, one for a tie, zero for a loss) versus teams seeded above the teams tied at the beginning of the process (canceled games shall not be awarded any points for seeding purposes.)”

Rutgers owns direct wins over Michigan and Penn State as well as a loss to Wisconsin, so it receives six points. Iowa lost to Michigan and Penn State, but tied Wisconsin, so it receives one point. Poor Minnesota lost to all the top-three seeded teams, so they don’t receive any points.

Now that the three-team tie is figured out, with Rutgers and Iowa advancing to a two-team tie (sorry, Minnesota), things are much simpler.

Rutgers defeated Iowa in a head-to-head matchup, so it would get the fourth seed and Iowa the fifth.

Again, this is assuming that Rutgers, Iowa, and Minnesota all have the same result (win/loss/tie) this weekend. If they have differing results, then points and simple head-to-head matchups will determine the seeding.

For reference, Rutgers would have a direct tiebreaker over Iowa, but not Minnesota. Iowa would have a tiebreaker over Minnesota, but not Rutgers and Minnesota would have a tiebreaker over Rutgers, but not Iowa.

The seventh and eighth spots are also up for grabs. Illinois has guaranteed itself one of those spots. If the Illini win or tie, they stay in seventh, even if Maryland wins. However, if Illinois loses to Wisconsin and Maryland wins, it would fall to eighth and the Terps would grab seventh.

Maryland is barely clinging on to that last spot, as Northwestern and Ohio State are breathing down their necks at two points behind and Nebraska is still hanging on to an extremely slim chance to make the field as well at three points behind.

In any event, the Wildcats and Buckeyes would need some major help. For those two teams, in any event, Maryland has to lose or tie and they have to win. If you’re Ohio State, the simplest scenario is to win, have Maryland lose, have Northwestern lose and have Nebraska lose.

That would put the Buckeyes in. The same goes for the Wildcats if they win — it would be simplest if Ohio State, Maryland and Nebraska all lose.

Alas, things are not always simple.

If Northwestern and Ohio State both win and Maryland loses/ties, it will come down to a tiebreaker between the three teams.

Just like earlier, it would come down to record versus the other three teams. The Buckeyes would actually come out on top in this situation, as they beat Northwestern and tied against Maryland. The Terps would advance to the two-team tiebreaker, as they tied both Northwestern and obviously tied the Buckeyes.

Ohio State would then get the final spot in this scenario, as they would have four wins to Maryland’s three.

Just because I think it’s amusing, if Northwestern, Maryland, and Ohio State were to all lose, Nebraska would actually be in because they beat the Terrapins earlier this season.

The last weekend of Big Ten soccer will be full of drama and intrigue, as final seeding could come down to games played weeks and months prior.

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