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Wisconsin Basketball: Seeding Scenarios for the Big Ten Tournament



Wisconsin Badgers Basketball head coach Greg Gard
Oct 10, 2023; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard speaks to the media during the Big Ten basketball media days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Like the rest of the Big Ten Conference, the Wisconsin basketball team has one game left in the regular season. The Big Ten Tournament will start next Wednesday, and right now, seeds 3-13 are not locked in and most spots are up for grabs.

Even after the Badgers’ tough February, they can still get as high as the 3-seed, but could also tumble down to the 5-seed, missing out on the double-bye, depending on the outcome of the games this weekend.

So let’s take a look at the different scenarios that could play out this weekend for the Wisconsin basketball team. I used a simulator I found online called mred’s 2024 Big 10 MBB Tournament Tiebreaker to work my scenarios. This simulator takes tie-breakers into account and adjusts the seeds based on the outcomes of games this weekend.

Current Big Ten Standings and Games This Weekend

The following are the current Big Ten standings heading into the final games of the regular season. The asterisk (*) indicates a team that has clinched that specific seed.

  1. Purdue – 16-3*
  2. Illinois – 13-6*
  3. Wisconsin 11-8
  4. Nebraska 11-8
  5. Northwestern 11-8
  6. Iowa – 10-9
  7. Michigan State – 10-9
  8. Indiana – 9-10
  9. Minnesota – 9-10
  10. Ohio State – 8-11
  11. Penn State – 8-11
  12. Maryland – 7-12
  13. Rutgers – 7-12
  14. Michigan – 3-16*

There will be seven Big Ten games played this weekend. Here is a schedule for the weekend that will determine the seeding of the Big Ten Tournament:

Minnesota @ Northwestern – 8:00 PM – BTN

Nebraska @ Michigan – 11:00 AM – BTN
Wisconsin @ Purdue – 11:30 AM – FOX
Ohio State @ Rutgers – 1:00 PM – BTN
Michigan State @ Indiana – 3:30 PM – CBS
Illinois @ Iowa – 6:00 PM – FS1
Maryland @ Penn State – 6:30 PM – BTN

Best-Case Scenario: How Wisconsin Basketball Can Keep the 3-Seed

The Wisconsin basketball bench celebrate after AJ Storr dunk.

Mar 7, 2024; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Connor Essegian (3) and the Wisconsin Badgers bench react to a dunk scored by Wisconsin Badgers guard AJ Storr (2) during the second half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

The simplest way for the Badgers to keep the 3rd seed is to beat Purdue. A lot easier said than done. Right now, the ESPN matchup predictor gives the Wisconsin basketball team an 11.3 percent chance to beat the Boilermakers at Mackey Arena, where the Boilermakers have yet to lose this season. So that in itself is going to be a challenge. But if they can pull off the upset, they will sit comfortably at No. 3.

Here are all the ways the Badgers clinch the 3-seed:

1. Wisconsin defeats Purdue. The other games won’t matter.

2. Wisconsin loss + Northwestern loss to Minnesota + Nebraska loss to Michigan + Iowa loss to Illinois

If Wisconsin can’t beat Purdue, I don’t like the chances of Nebraska, Northwestern, and Iowa all losing. But you never know, Big Ten basketball can be unpredictable.

According to, this scenario has an 18% chance of happening.

Middle of the Road: Wisconsin Snags the 4-Seed and the Last Double-Bye Spot

This scenario would come into play if the Badgers lose to Purdue and get a little help, but not enough to get the 3-seed. Here are the possible scenarios for the Badgers to earn the last double-bye spot in the tournament.

1. Wisconsin loss + Northwestern loss to Minnesota

2. Wisconsin loss + Nebraska loss to Michigan + Iowa loss to Illinois

The nice thing about Northwestern and Minnesota playing on Saturday night is that the Badgers will have a good idea of where they stand before their game. If Northwestern loses, the Badgers will have a double-bye regardless of what happens on Sunday.

If Northwestern wins on Saturday night, the Badgers will need both Nebraska and Iowa to lose. Otherwise, they are looking at playing on Thursday, instead of Friday.

This scenario has a 27% chance of playing out.

Less Than Ideal, But Most Likely: Wisconsin Gets the 5-Seed, Missing the Double-Bye

Wisconsin basketball loses to Michigan.

Feb 7, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Chucky Hepburn (23) runs into Michigan Wolverines forward Will Tschetter (42) defending guard Jaelin Llewellyn (3) in the second half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This is a scenario for the Wisconsin basketball team to be the No. 5 seed. This scenario would take place with any of the following results:

1. Wisconsin loss + Northwestern win + Nebraska win + Iowa loss + Indiana loss

2. Wisconsin loss + Northwestern win + Nebraska loss + Iowa win

In this scenario, the Badgers get no help from Minnesota by losing to Northwestern. Additionally, a Nebraska win over Michigan would bump the Badgers down. If Nebraska does lose to Michigan, an Iowa victory over Illinois would leapfrog them over the Badgers for the 4-seed.

Unfortunately, this is the most likely scenario with a 46% chance of happening, according to the probability model.

Worst-Case Scenario: Badgers Tumble to the 6-Seed

This is the final and worst-possible scenario for the Badgers, where Murphy’s Law takes place. Anything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

1. Wisconsin loss + Northwestern win + Nebraska win + Iowa win + Indiana win

The worst-case scenario has a 9% chance of happening.

It’s crazy how a conference basketball season that has 20 games can still have so much chaos leading up to the last games of the year. But it happens the Big Ten where teams beat up on each other all year. But that’s what makes Big Ten basketball so much fun.

Hold on tight, it’s going to be a crazy weekend in the Big Ten.

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Christian Borman was born and raised in Wisconsin and covers the Badgers football and basketball programs, plus some recruiting for He previously covered the Wisconsin Badgers for years as the site expert for Badger of Honor of the Fansided Network.