UB got some bigtime help Wednesday night. It wasn't quite perfect, but given that Toledo and Central Michigan hold and will not lose the tiebreakers over the Bulls, losses from Akron and Bowling Green are UB's best chance to claw bask into the top four.
If you don't want to put too much thought into it, the rest of the way out we're rooting for chaos and hope that it shuffles out with the Bulls claiming a tiebreaker, ideally in a multiple-team tie where the Bulls can inch in front of one of the West teams thanks to a 1-1 (Akron) or 2-0 (Bowling Green, Kent State) record against East rivals.
UB's actually not in a bad position if they can string a few wins together: They're the only team of the top six with three remaining home games, and with four games left against teams above them, can move up quickly. I've put this in bold so that you read it. It is important.
It is also important that UB win.
Here's what we're looking for from today's games, which are honestly pretty straightforward:
Kent State (9-4) at Ohio (4-9): OHIO
Unfortunately, we're basically rooting for Ohio to go nuts and finish 8-10 after losing to us. If they catch us, tiebreakers don't matter, so they're a perfect spoiler for our purposes. It sucks, but we have to deal with it.
Central Michigan (9-4) vs Ball State (2-11): BALL STATE
It's a long shot, especially with the Cardinals on the road. There's a case to be made that we should root for CMU to run away so their 2-0 record vs UB doesn't hurt the Bulls in a three-way tie, but with the Bulls only two games back I'm keeping hope alive that maybe the Chippewas are one of the two teams we jump to get into a bye.
Toledo (9-4) vs Western Michigan (7-6): WESTERN MICHIGAN
This one is tougher, because WMU could pass Buffalo. But let's assume Buffalo needs to win over BG anyway, and they'd still be ahead of the Broncos. Toledo's 1-0 record vs UB is also less detrimental in a three-way tie to the Bulls' chances. If it were WMU and Central, I'd be rooting for Central, and it would be an easy choice.
Akron (8-5) vs Miami (5-8): MIAMI
This one is big, because it's most likely that UB gets into the top four by jumping two East Division teams and not having to deal with CMU or Toledo. Akron is only a game up on UB instead of the two-game cushion that Kent and BG enjoy (though those two could be easier to catch since they don't have a win over the Bulls yet).
Anyway, this is an easy one even so. Go RedHawks.
Eastern Michigan (5-8) at NIU (4-9): DOESN'T MATTER
In theory we'd pick the team that has a better record against the team we're tied with, should the "best win" tiebreaker get that far, but it's much too convoluted right now to try to deal with that.
In order, here's how important I'd rank the various results for UB. I'd say the line separating "helpful" and "detrimental" falls somewhere in the 6-8 range. Either of those MAC West games wouldn't really hurt UB, just force a readjustment of goals:
1. UB over BG
2. Miami over Akron
3. Ohio over Kent
4. Western Michigan over Toledo
5. Ball State over Central Michigan
6. Toledo over WMU
7. CMU over Ball State
8 and 9. EMU-NIU result
10. Kent over Ohio
11. Akron over Miami