Who says Ohio State never helps Michigan?

The Buckeyes’ loss at Penn State on Thursday night had more than a warming effect on the U-M fan base. It also gave Michigan another milestone: a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament.

Since Nebraska entered the Big Ten three years ago, the league tournament’s format features first-round byes for the top four teams and the bottom eight teams playing on the first day (March 13 this year).

Michigan is 12-3 in the Big Ten, followed by Michigan State (11-4) and Wisconsin (10-5). All have three games remaining.

With the Buckeyes, Iowa and Nebraska losing this week and falling into the seven-loss realm, U-M no longer can mathematically tie any of those schools. U-M will be seeded No. 1, 2, or 3, and begin play on the Friday of the tournament.

The Wolverines have the inside track for the top seed, which they would acquire by winning the title outright or in a two-team tie with MSU (having won both games head-to-head).

A three-team tie with MSU and Wisconsin also would favor the Wolverines, as they are 3-1 against the group (2-0 vs. MSU and 1-1 vs. Wisconsin) while the Badgers are just 2-1, having split with the Wolverines and beating MSU in their only meeting.

The No. 1 seed in the tournament will face the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game winner at noon March 14 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.