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Northern Illinois over Toledo opens up new, better tiebreaker possibilities for UB Men's Basketball

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Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

UB continues to help from the rest of the conference. Each round of MAC games has brought another team within range of the Bulls. First, it was UB's remaining games against Akron and Bowling Green that presented the best chance to move from sixth to fourth in the final standings.

Then Miami continued their reign of terror, taking down Kent State, and the Golden Flashes are within reach. Life is good.

Last night, it got better. We're getting the MAC West Chaos we need to improve our slim chances at a top-two seed. In a game delayed 24 hours by a water main break near Toledo's Savage Arena, Northern Illinois took down the Rockets to bring them within a single game of the Bulls.

I'll have the usual "Who to Root For" post up tomorrow before Ohio-Akron, but Toledo's loss and the final three games for each of Toledo, Bowling Green, and Kent State bode really well if UB can take care of business.

CMU and Toledo still have a game, and BG, Kent, and UB all still play each other. If UB can get a few more wins, they'll be in good shape, but some totally feasible help can really push the Bulls into a good position.

First, let's talk tiebreakers among these four teams

Team Record vs UT vs BG vs KSU vs UB
Toledo 10-5 1-0 0-2 1-0
Bowling Green 10-5 0-1 1-0* 0-1*
Kent State 10-5 2-0 0-1* 0-1*
Buffalo 9-6 0-1 1-0* 1-0*

*teams still have a game left to play against each other

It is so much better for UB that Toledo is the team coming down to the pack, rather than CMU. In a multiple-team tie, UB only has one loss going into their H2H2H record, rather than two from the Chippewas. Note that it would also be better to pass Bowling Green than Kent State if we can only get one, since Kent State contributes two losses to UT in a multi-team tie.

Here's what we need, on a head-to-head basis, to pass each team individually.

Toledo: UB wins out, Toledo loses out UB wins two more games than Toledo in the final three. 
Bowling Green: Match BG over the next two games, beat them on Senior Night
Kent State: Beat them Saturday, match their final two games

But when you figure the chances of a multiple-team tiebreaker are high, here's how things would shake out. Asterisks represent remaining games among the tied teams:

Toledo-Bowling Green-Buffalo: UB 1-1*, UT 2-0, BG 0-2*

With a win over BG UB would come behind Toledo but still ahead of BG. Getting here with a loss to the Falcons, though, would send us into a two-team breaker in which Bowling Green's win over CMU would likely be the swing. UB would be seeded third of these three teams.   

Toledo-Kent State-Buffalo: UB 1-1*, UT 1-2, KSU, 2-1*

UB beats Kent and they take this theoretical tie. Lose to Kent, and they take third, since Kent would take it, and then Toledo the head-to-head over Buffalo.

Bowling Green-Kent State-Buffalo: UB 2-0**, BG 1-1**, KSU 1-1**

Maybe this happens with Toledo firmly in the #2 seed, maybe it happens with the Rockets losing out. It's probably the least likely of these scenarios, though.

But, UB's in good shape if they can get even one win of their remaining two against these teams. If Toledo's at #2, this is only valuable for 3-5, and the goal is not losing. If UB gets here by going 1-1 against these teams, if they beat each other to finish 2-2, it's inconsequential and UB wins the breaker.

Toledo-Bowling Green-Kent-Buffalo: UB 2-1**, UT 2-2, BG 1-2**, KSU 2-2**

This would be a lot better for UB at 12-6, because that would mean wins over BG and Kent and the #2 seed. At 11-7, it depends on where UB's loss is and the result of the Kent-BG game. There are scenarios where UB finishes 3-2 among these tied teams but takes #2, takes #3 losing the breaker to BG, or takes #3 losing it to Kent. But a four-way tie would generally be pretty good for Buffalo.

***

So what are we looking for? This isn't an exhaustive list, but:

  • CMU to beat UT. If Toledo wins that one, the MAC West teams are likely to hold the top two seeds, or, worse, CMU could fall down into us and create a much worse set of possible tiebreakers.
  • Win over BG ices top-four in any multiple-team tiebreaker involving the Falcons.
  • Same deal with Kent.
  • Ideally, UB beats both BG and Kent, but if they only beat one, we're rooting for that team in the BG-Kent matchup. ie, if we can't be 2-0 against them in this season-closing round robin, we want everyone to be 1-1
  • It would be super helpful if Akron beat Kent. Without catching us, of course.
None of those are *that* unreasonable, right?

It all starts with Kent State. True Blue is bussing. Take over the M.A.C. Center

This will all be much, much simpler after this weekend's games. I promise. I should be able to account for all possibilities, even.

Go Bulls