Only eight games remain before the MAC Tournament, and for all the times we've been beaten over the head about the parity of the conference, this year it's truer than ever.
With six teams within a single game of first and Western Michigan right behind at 5-5, eight games is still tons of time for a serious upheaval in the standings before it's all over. As we know, the #1 and #2 seeds have a massive advantage even over the #3 and #4 seeds, which also enjoy a bye into Cleveland.
Over the course of their last game, UB went from sitting in pole position all the way down to six, based solely on a three-point road loss and other factors. Tonight against Toledo, the Bulls could jump as high as second again.
This year's tournament seeding is going to depend heavily on tiebreakers unless we get some stratification, and as Buffalo has six games left against teams currently tied for first or one game out, every advantage matters. Frankly, things are going to remain muddy until we get some more tiebreaker clarity with those games.
Tonight, at least, here's who Bulls fans should root for:
Kent State (7-3) at Akron (7-3): KENT STATE
In general, we want teams we've beaten or have the tiebreaker over to advance higher, since they can come as close as the same record and not pass us. The winner of this game will first place tomorrow, and there's nothing we can do about that.
For now, root for Kent since we right now have a win over the Flashes, and because they likely won't maintain their strong record against a tougher string of opponents and without Jimmy Hall (mono).
Western Michigan (5-5) at Bowling Green (7-3): WESTERN MICHIGAN
Having split their two games, WMU and the Bulls are headed for a second tiebreaker should they finish tied. It's much too early to sketch that out right now (plus I don't remember them exactly after the H2H(2H) stuff; best win is in there somewhere, divisional record might be in there somewhere).
Bowling Green and UB still have two games to play, so it wouldn't be critical if they pulled even two games up on the Bulls, but for now let's go Western. Keeping the Broncos within shouting distance isn't ideal, but keeping UB closer to the top is more important.
Central Michigan (6-4) at Ohio (4-6): OHIO
I feel dirty. But, for now CMU has the tiebeaker over and the same record as the Bulls. We do have another game against the Chips, but with all our home games if we're dropping two games in the standings to a team below us we've got bigger problems than tiebreakers and won't be in contention for a bye anyway.
A Bobcats win plus a Buffalo win over the Chippewas on Saturday could put Keno Davis' team in our rearview for good. Could.
Miami (3-7) at Eastern Michigan (3-7): MIAMI
This is much less meaningful than the first three, but let's go Miami. UB has two wins over the Redhawks, useful in a hypothetical head-to-head or head-to-head-to-head tiebreaker, and useful in a "best win among common opponents" tiebreaker should Miami make a run up the standings and it come to that point.
Ball State (2-8) at Northern Illinois (3-7): BALL STATE
For tiebreaker and seeding purposes, this is literally the most meaningless matchup possible for Buffalo right now. But, Ball State has more games against the top half of the MAC, so I'm rooting for them to build up some confidence and surprise a team or two.
In addition to tonight's immediate postgame piece, we'll have the new seedings in tomorrow's broader takeaways or a separate post, and will have a new rooting guide Friday for the next round of games.
Go Bulls! (And Flashes, Broncos, Redhawks, Cardinals, and -ugh- Bobcats)