Women’s Soccer: Potential Big Ten Tournament Scenarios

By Logan Schiciano

If you’re a fan of Northwestern women’s soccer, get your five-device-streaming setup ready for today’s final day of Big Ten regular-season action. 

Northwestern heads into its last match against Ohio State needing a win (and some help) to have a chance for a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. The top eight teams make the playoffs. The ‘Cats could finish as high as sixth in the conference or miss the playoffs entirely. 

Here are Sunday’s matchups to watch: 

(Team records listed are conference play only; rankings are also B1G)

Ohio State, 3-4-2 (No. 10) @ Northwestern, 3-5-1 (No. 11) – 1 p.m. CST

Indiana, 3-3-3 (No. 6) @ Purdue, 7-2 (No. 2) – Noon CST

Nebraska, 2-5-2 (No. 12) @ Minnesota, 4-5 (No. 7) – 1 p.m. CST

Penn State, 4-5 (No. 8) @ Michigan State, 5-3-1 (No. 4) – Noon CST

Iowa, 5-4 (No. 5) @ Wisconsin, 3-3-3 (No. 9) – 1 p.m. CST

Here’s a look at how the teams stack up in the B1G standings:

Indiana – 12 points

Minnesota – 12 points

Penn State – 12 points

Wisconsin – 12 points

Ohio State – 11 points

Northwestern – 10 points 

For this article, let’s call Indiana, Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin the “key four” because their results will ultimately decide whether the ‘Cats make the tournament and what seed they hold. 

Here’s a breakdown of all the possible scenarios for Northwestern: 

No. 6 Seed: 

If Northwestern wins today against Ohio State, and all of the key four teams lose, the ‘Cats will finish in sole possession of sixth place with 13 points on the season. While this result may seem unlikely, all the “key four” teams except Minnesota are playing teams ranked above them in the standings. If Northwestern wins, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota lose, and Penn State ties, Northwestern would also claim the No. 6 seed because it won its lone matchup this season against the Nittany Lions 2-1. 

No. 7 Seed: 

If it wins today, Northwestern could grab the No. 7 seed if three of the key four teams suffer defeats. If Penn State ties, and either Indiana, Minnesota, or Wisconsin win, Northwestern would hold on to the seventh position due to owning the tiebreaker against Penn State. 

No. 8 seed: 

There are several ways Northwestern could wind up with the eighth seed. Obviously, it needs to win against Ohio State today. Then, if two of the key four teams win and the other two lose, the ‘Cats would take the eighth position, finishing the season with 15 points. If Penn State ties and a combination of two of the three remaining key four teams – Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin – win, Northwestern would claim the eighth seed due to the tiebreaker with Penn State. 

Northwestern can still miss the playoffs with a win:

If the ‘Cats win, and three of the four mentioned teams win, Northwestern finishes ninth and misses the playoffs. If two of the teams win, and either Indiana, Minnesota or Wisconsin tie, Northwestern would be eliminated because it lost earlier this season to all three teams (all by a score of 1-0). Suppose one of the four teams wins and two (excluding Penn State) tie, or all four tie, Northwestern would still fall short. 

Potential first-round matchups for Northwestern:

If they make the tourney, the ‘Cats could potentially face any of the top five teams in the Big Ten: Rutgers, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State or Iowa. The only two teams with confirmed seeds going into the final day are Rutgers (10-0) and Purdue (7-2), who are first and second in the conference, respectively. The ‘Cats did not face Rutgers this year. They lost to Purdue 1-0 in the season’s penultimate game on Thursday in West Lafayette. With a win or draw, Michigan would solidify the third seed. The Wolverines did not play Northwestern this year. 

Overall, there are lots of ways this post-season could unfold for the ‘Cats. Today’s slate of games will make or break Northwestern’s chances for a Big Ten Tournament appearance.