This week is a big one for Women's Hoops, who could - honestly - be in a tie for second when all is said and done. With two easier home games, we'll hopefully see the Bulls at least within a hair of one of the crucial byes given to the conference's top four seeds. It's crunch time.
There's slightly fewer games this round as everyone evens out, but that won't stop us.
Eastern Michigan (5-6) at Miami (1-11): EASTERN MICHIGAN
EMU is close to us, but we're only interested at this point in the four teams ahead of UB; either we catch them, or we don't. I'm not too concerned about the differences between 5th and 8th. So let EMU win since we have the win over them should a tiebreaker with another team (Akron) go that far.
Northern Illinois (6-6) at Toledo (6-6): NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Once again, it's not so much about either catching us, because then we have bigger problems. Though, if that we're the concern, we'd still want NIU to win. The advantage here is our better record vs the Huskies compared to vs the Rockets should a tiebreaker (Akron) move to a "best-win" scenario.
Central Michigan (6-6) at Ball State (9-3): CENTRAL MICHIGAN
This one would be big, and it's not outside the realm of possibility. CMU has two shots left at Ball State, and bringing them closer to the pack would help the Bulls out a ton.
Eastern Michigan (5-6*) at Ohio (11-1): EASTERN MICHIGAN (I guess)
This won't really mean much unless the Bobcats really collapse down the stretch. It's going to be tough for them to fall out of #1, and unlikely that UB leaps the two MAC West teams AND the Bobcats to claim that top spot. So while technically we want EMU, it won't make a huge difference either way.
*note that EMU will be either 6-6 or 5-7 coming into this one after tonight's game.
Now that we're getting closer to the end of the season, let's talk tiebreakers.
In MAC Basketball, the tiebreakers are as follows:
1) Head to Head record*
2) Better record against highest-seeded common opponent.
*if more than two teams are tied, use head-to-head-to-head record among all tied teams to determine the order, then restart an individual tiebreaker if necessary.
That second tiebreaker is tough to explain in a list like that, but it's simple in application. Suppose Western Michigan and Buffalo end up tied. They're 1-1 head to head, so that's no help. The second tiebreaker looks at each team's record against Ohio - the #1 seed. WMU is 1-0, UB 0-1, so the Broncos would claim the tiebreaker on that basis. If the tied teams have an identical winning percentage against the #1 seed, the tiebreaker moves down the line.
Once again, I'm not really concerned with any of the seven teams below UB.
vs Ohio: Right now, UB would lose on the basis of Ohio's H2H win, but obviously there's another game. Should UB win that and pull into a tie with the Bobcats, Buffalo could be in good shape: They've got a perfect mark against Ball State, are 1-1 to Ohio's 0-1 against WMU, and both teams would likely be 1-1 against Akron. In the unlikely reality that this happens, the route to get there would set things up perfectly for UB.
vs Ball State: UB's got the H2H against the Cardinals and that's swell. In a simple two-team tie, it'll be that simple.
vs WMU: Not quite as simple, but WMU has UB in a two-team tie. They're 1-1 H2H, but the Broncos are 1-0 against Ohio while the best Buffalo can do is 1-1.
vs Akron: This is another one where UB may be in good shape should it come down to it. Right now Akron holds the H2H advantage, but if Buffalo can claim the second game between these two, each team is 0-1 vs Ohio - with another to play - and 1-1 vs WMU, but the Zips lost to Ball State.
In a multi-team tiebreaker, these data points would come in handy:
Akron: 0-1 vs Ball State, 1-1 vs WMU, 0-1 vs Ohio (with one left)
Ohio: 1-0 vs Ball State, 0-1 vs WMU, 1-0 vs Akron (with one left)
WMU: 0-1 vs Ball State (with one left), 1-0 vs Ohio, 1-1 vs Akron
Ball State: 1-0 vs WMU (with one left), 0-1 vs Ohio, 1-0 vs Akron
Buffalo: 1-0 vs Ball State, 1-1 vs WMU, 0-1 vs Ohio (with one left), 0-1 vs Akron (with one left)
Let's assume we won't see two separate teams catch and tie Ohio, for simplicity's sake.
In a three-way Buffalo-Ball State-WMU tie, we're 2-1, but need to avoid a situation where WMU is also 2-1, since once it filters out they have us. So when the game comes, we're rooting Ball State over the Broncos.
In a three-way Buffalo-Ball State-Akron tie, it will come down to who wins the second game between us and the Zips. Right now all three are 1-1 against the other two, so the winner of UB-Akron in this scenario would be 2-1, the loser 1-2.
In a three-way Buffalo-WMU-Akron tie, Buffalo and Akron are both 2-1 with one relevant game left, and WMU is 2-2. The winner of UB Akron would take the first spot, and the loser would move to a two-team tiebreaker with the Broncos.
It's a lot, and not much today and tomorrow can do much for the tiebreakers. Most importantly, Buffalo's got to take care of business this week, and it would be awesome to get a win from Central tomorrow.