Hello. Illinois can still win the Big Ten West, and to be honest, it’s not as difficult as it seemed (although, it’s not likely).
Let’s start simple.
Illinois needs to win its remaining four games
If the Illini want to win the Big Ten West, they’ll have to go 6-3 in conference play.
That means Illinois needs to defeat...
- A 2-6 Rutgers
- A 1-6 Northwestern
- A 4-3 Michigan State that isn’t that good
- And a ranked Iowa team (63-0 revenge game, baby)
Now it gets fun.
Let’s start simple.
Nebraska can’t win out.
Pretty simple, huh.
To make this simple, the Cornhuskers must lose to either Purdue or Maryland.
Currently, the Huskers are 2-3 in conference play. If they lose one more, they can only win five. That knocks them out of contention for the title.
Then there were three.
Illinois needs to beat Iowa.
For Illinois to get to six wins, we’ve already established this fact.
If the Illini beat the Hawkeyes, Iowa can finish at best 6-3, but would have a loss to Illinois.
Head-to-head tiebreaker favors the Illini. The Hawkeyes will not go to Indy.
Iowa must also beat Minnesota.
Then there were two.
Wisconsin needs to lose at least once.
But also beat Minnesota.
Wisconsin needs to beat Minnesota. Let’s make that clear.
For this to work, Minnesota needs to lose out. So, thus, the Badgers (and Hawkeyes) need to beat Minnesota.
As long as the Badgers lose one of their remaining three games after that (Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue), the Badgers can finish at best 6-3 with a loss to Illinois.
Head-top-head tiebreaker favors the Illini. The Badgers will not go to Indy.
Minnesota needs to lose out.
The Golden Gophers are the darlings so far in the Big Ten, but that has to stop.
We’ve already established that losses to Iowa and Wisconsin are necessary, but also L’s to Penn State (likely) and Northwestern (unlikely).
If that happens, the Gophers will finish 5-4, and miss out, despite crushing Illinois.
So, to recap.
- Illinois 6-3 (with wins over Iowa, Wisconsin)
- Wisconsin 6-3 (lose one of Nebraska, Purdue, beat Minnesota)
- Iowa 6-3 (beat Minnesota, lose to Illinois)
- Minnesota 5-4 (lose out to PSU, Iowa, Northwestern, Wisconsin)
- Nebraska is somewhere between 3-6 and 5-4 (beat Wisconsin, lose to someone else)
Is my logic off?
I don’t think so.
If Illinois wins out and Minnesota suddenly starts to falter, the Illini are in the driver’s position to win the division.