Planting seeds

Raise your hand if you thought before this season started that the Illini women's basketball team would be vying for a top four seed in the Big Ten tournament.

Thought so.

Me neither. Never would have guessed that a program that finished with 5-11 and 2-14 conference records the past two seasons would be in the running for a coveted first-round bye in the league tournament. But that's very much on the table for coach Matt Bollant's first Illini team entering its final four games of the Big Ten race. At 8-4, Illinois is tied for third place in the standings and is the No. 5 seed entering tonight's (Feb. 20) game at league-leading Penn State.

The question of how the seedings shake out will be closely watched by teams still with a shot at the top four. No team wants to face the prospect of playing four games in four days in order to win the tournament title, which is the fate of any school seeded 5 through 12. The top four seeds receive a first-round bye into the quarterfinals.

The tournament runs March 7-10 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.

Thought you might be interested in the seeding and tiebreaker procedures and rules, so here is the Big Ten's official process (we particularly like the very last tiebreaker; wonder if THAT has ever been needed):

SEEDINGS/TIES
All teams shall be seeded and pairings completed based on the final Conference standings. The top four teams shall receive a bye on Thursday, the fIrst
day of the tournament.
Ties for seeding will be broken as follows:
In case of a tie for any place fmish in the regular-season standings, the following tiebreaking procedure shall be followed in order to seed teams in the Tournament bracket:

A. Two-team tie:
1. Results of head-to-head competition during the regular-season.
2. Each team's record vs. the team occupying the highest position in the final regular-season standings (or in the case of a tie for the championship,
the next highest position in the regular-season standings), continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.
a. When arriving at another pair of tied teams while comparing records, use each team's record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to
their own tie-breaking procedures), rather than the performance against the individual tied teams.
b. When comparing records against a single team or a group of teams, the higher winning percentage shall prevail, even if the number of games
played against the team or group are unequal (i.e. 2-0 is better than 3-1, but 2-0 is not better than 1-0).
3. Won-loss percentage of all Division I opponents.
4. Coin toss conducted by the Commissioner or designee.

B. Multiple team tie:
1. Results of head-to-head competition during the regular-season.
a. When comparing records against the tied teams, the team with the higher winning percentage shall prevail, even if the number of games played
against the team or group are unequal (i.e., 2-0 is better than 3-1, but 2-0 is not better than 1-0).
b. After the top team among the tied teams is determined, the second team is ranked by their record among the original tied teams, not the head-to-head
record vs. the remaining team(s).
2. If the remaining teams are still tied, then each tied team's record shall be compared to the team occupying the highest position in the final
regular season standings, continuing down through the standings until one team gains
an advantage.
a. When arriving at another pair of tied teams while comparing records, use each team's record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to
their own tie-breaking procedures), rather than the performance against the individual tied teams.
b. When comparing records against a single team or group of teams, the higher winning percentage shall prevail, even if the number of games
played against the team or group are unequal (i.e., 2-0 is better than 3-1, but 2-0 is not better than 1-0).
3. Won-loss percentage of Division I opponents.
4. Coin toss conducted by Commissioner or designee.

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