We're going to let bygones be bygones and not give the Gophers women's basketball team grief after it followed up victories over Top 25-teams Michigan and Maryland with a surprising loss to Indiana in the final Big Ten game this season at Williams Arena.


The loss set up a wide array of scenarios that will decide whether Minnesota can get a bye through the first two rounds of the Big Ten tournament and into the quarterfinals next week in Indianapolis.

But ...

If the Gophers had beaten Indiana, the only question is where they would have finished in the top four spots on the Big Ten, which gets those teams a double-bye in the tournament.

One thing we'll grant, when looking at the current possibilities, is that Minnesota should win on Sunday at Illinois, which is 0-15 in conference play. The biggest goal of the next two weekends, aside from winning the tournament, is for Minnesota to put itself in the best possible position to get a spot in the NCAA women's tournament.

Beating Michigan and Maryland greatly increased that possibility. Losing to Indiana didn't help. Losing to Illinois would likely be lethal. The end result: A good Big Ten tournament showing should put the Gophers over the top, and being seeded into the quarterfinals would be a good way to start that challenge.

All of that on the table, here are the possible outcomes based on Sunday's conference-ending schedule. Maryland and Nebraska are 11-4, Minnesota and Iowa are 10-5. The full Big Ten women's standings are here and the Big Ten tie-breaker rules are here.


What if Nebraska loses to Maryland while Minnesota beats Illinois and Iowa beats Indiana? That creates a three-way tie for third place at 11-5. Nebraska would be seeded third, Minnesota fourth and Iowa fifth. Why? Nebraska has a 3-0 record against Minnesota and Iowa. Minnesota is 1-2 in those games and Iowa is 1-3. The Hawkeyes lose the double-bye.

What if Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa all win? Then Nebraska is No. 2 at 12-4. Minnesota is No. 3 and Maryland is No. 4. Iowa again loses the double-bye because it has the worst record in a three-way tie involving Minnesota and Maryland.

OK, but what it Penn State upsets Ohio State, Maryland beats Minnesota and Iowa/Minnesota both win? Then the Top Four are Maryland, Ohio State, Nebraska and Minnesota in that order. Iowa is fifth, which means a possible quarterfinal game between the Gophers and Hawkeyes, who split their games this season.

Fun sidenote: If you hate Iowa, you should know that an Iowa loss to Indiana could drop the Hawkeyes as low as the eighth seed.

So the Gophers are in good double-bye shape in three-way tie scenarios. But what about a two-way tie for fourth involving Minnesota?

That can't happen.

If Minnesota beats 0-15 Illinois, the Gophers would then be in a three-way third-place tie with the Nebraska-Maryland loser and Iowa, providing the Hawkeyes beat Indiana. If the Hoosiers win, Minnesota is in a two-way tie is for third, which would give the Gophers the third seed over Maryland or the fourth seed if they tie with Nebraska, based on head-to-head games.

What if Illinois shocks the Gophers? Well, if that happens, the Gophers had better count on winning the Big Ten tournament, first of all. An ugly loss at the end of the season, coupled with the Indiana defeat, is not a good look to take to the NCAA selection committee.

But if Iowa wins and Minnesota loses, the Gophers drop into the No. 5 seed -- getting only a single-bye -- with Iowa finishing ahead of them by one game. If Minnesota and Iowa both lose, Indiana gets the fourth seed and Minnesota drops to fifth or sixth based on the outcome of other games.

How do we know this all to be true? Our source is mred's bracket and tiebreaker generator, which offers a conference-by-conference look at how standings could turn out in the nation's Division I men's and women's conferences. (Warning: It's a rabbit hole. Venture there at your own risk.)

Still interested in the Gophers' men? No matter what happens, Minnesota will be seeded 11th in the Big Ten men's tournament, which is as far from any kind of bye as you can get.