In this post, I will discuss the various scenarios that need to happen for Minnesota to earn a spot in the Big Ten Conference Tournament that will take place November 2-5 in Evanston, Ill.
With one regular season match left, the Golden Gopher women's soccer team is on the cusp of grabbing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. Friday night's match against Nebraska is the biggest game of the season, and it not only has postseason implication for the Gophers and Huskers, but also for the four other teams (Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue) fighting for the final three spots in the eight-team Big Ten Tournament. Ironically enough, only the Minnesota-Nebraska game features a matchup of squads in that group looking to punch their ticket to Evanston, Ill.
Gophers celebrate after a goal versus Ohio State.
First off, let me inform everyone about who has already clinched spots for the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State has snagged the No. 1 seed by going undefeated in the Big Ten thus far this season. Illinois follows the Nittany Lions at the No. 2 seed.
The No. 3 and 4 seeds are spoken for by Wisconsin and Michigan State, but it is undecided which team will receive which seed. They both have 18 points heading into their final match, so if they each have the same outcome in their matches then Wisconsin will get the higher seed based on the two foes' head-to-head outcome with the Badgers beating the Spartans 2-1 earlier this season.
The last team to solidify a spot in the tournament is Northwestern, who is last in the Big Ten, but since they are hosting the tournament, they receive an automatic bid.
Now we will get into what happens with the Maroon and Gold if they win, lose or draw. Before I explain them, be aware that the Gophers hold the tie breaker over Michigan and Iowa while Ohio State and Purdue hold the tie breaker versus the Maroon and Gold.
The first scenario is the simplest: win and you're in! With a Minnesota win over Nebraska, the Gophers will clinch a No. 5 seed in the tournament. The win would also eliminate Nebraska from qualifying.
Things get a little bit tricky if the Golden Gophers lose to the Huskers. For Minnesota to slip in the backdoor of the tournament, they need 3-of-4 things to happen:
- Michigan draws or loses to Illinois
- Purdue loses to Penn State
- Ohio State loses to Indiana
- Iowa loses to Wisconsin
- If Iowa draws with Wisconsin, then all other scenarios must happen
These scenarios are the only ways that Minnesota can get in with a loss on Friday. If this is the route taken, the Gophers will either be the No. 6 or 7 seed based on which stipulations actually happen. The only definite thing about this situation is that Nebraska will receive a higher seed over the Maroon and Gold.
If the Gophers draw with the Huskers, the scenario is quite similar to a loss, but a few things change in favor of Minnesota. They need 2-of-4 things happen:
- Michigan draws or loses to Illinois
- Purdue draws or loses to Penn State
- Ohio State draws or loses to Indiana
- Iowa draws or loses to Wisconsin
If this scenario happens, Minnesota will for sure be in the tournament, but it is unsure at which seed. If 2-of-4 stipulations happen then they will be the No. 7 seed, but for each additional stipulation, the Gophers move up one spot with No. 5 being the best possible seed, which would happen if all four stipulations come true.
Like I said, it is a little tricky, but the Gophers have control of their own destiny unlike most of the schools still trying to get into the tournament. So the most basic way to inform people what needs to happen is: win and you're in, and that cancels out having to rely on other match outcomes to punch your ticket to Evanston, Ill.
Here is a list of match times for the weekend:
Friday, October 28
Purdue at Penn State, 6 p.m.
Nebraska at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 29
Iowa at Wisconsin, 1 p.m.
Michigan at Illinois, 6 p.m.
Michigan State at Northwestern, 6 p.m.
Sunday, October 30
Indiana at Ohio State, 1 p.m.