In the race for a top-four (and maybe even top-two), UB is getting as much help from the rest of the MAC - specifically Miami and Northern Illinois - as they are helping themselves.
As disheartening as the three-game losing streak was, Toledo, CMU, and Akron are good teams all still in play for a top-four seed. The RedHawks and Huskies have combined in the last few games to knock everyone except CMU down a peg despite not having a prayer at a bye.
The end result of this week's carnage is that the still-slim chances of the #2 seed are growing. We're rooting for a three-way tie between UB, Toledo, and Kent. And beyond our own three games, we're a CMU win over UT, a Kent win over BG, and an Akron win over Kent, from that happening.
After this round of games, things will be simple enough that I can account for every possibility, so I'll address that more tonight after all is said and done.
For now, here's what we want around the MAC:
Central Michigan (11-4) at Northern Illinois (5-10): CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Here's the deal. We DO NOT want Central Michigan finishing in a tie with us, because our 0-2 record vs the Chips would kill us in multiple-team ties. Everything would have to go right for us to pass them outright, so it's best for UB's chances for CMU to take the #1 and stay clear of us.
This an even easier choice when I look ahead to the next game: CMU vs Toledo. We have H2H opportunities to catch Kent and BG, but not the Rockets. That's the opportunity to catch Toledo, so since I'm rooting CMU there, might as well just pull for them the whole way.
Bowling Green (10-5) at Miami (7-8): MIAMI
Miami! Long live the RedHawks! Though they've no chance at a top-four, they are playing for a home games in the first round, and are ripping the MAC East to shreds lately. GO GO GO MIAMI you know what they say! Hang on Miami, you'll make it some day!
Eastern Michigan (6-9) at Western Michigan (8-7): EASTERN MICHIGAN
This game falls under the now-familiar refrain of "if they catch us, we have bigger problems," but an Eagles win would eliminate any chance of WMU (and our 1-1 H2H record) catching us.
Ohio (4-11) at Akron (8-7): OHIO
For three games I was pulling for Ohio to go nuts and help us out, but Miami stepped up to the plate while the Bobcats have kept losing. Same story as with EMU-WMU, here. Akron played well enough against us, but maybe Ohio capitalizes better against the missing Robotham.
This one is tonight. It could be a five-team race for four spots as early as midnight. Go Bobcats.
Ball State (2-13) at Toledo (10-5): BALL STATE
Make it happen, Cardinals, and we will shower you with praise everlasting.
If all goes right here, UB would be in a four-way tie for second, poised to win that seed outright. If everything goes wrong, we're rooting like hell for BG to topple Kent State next game and lose to us on Senior Night.
The Path to #2
I originally wrote this before NIU took down Toledo! Just read this:
Northern Illinois over Toledo opens up new, better tiebreaker possibilities for UB Men's Basketball - Bull Run
UB continues to get 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...
After tomorrow, we'll be able to account for every possibility. Seriously.
In truth, nothing can really go wrong today so long as UB wins because we've gotten so much help lately. What can go right though, can REALLY go right. Possible results, from most helpful to most damaging:
1. UB over Kent
2. Miami over BG
3. Ball State over Toledo
4. Ohio over Akron
5. CMU over NIU
6. NIU over CMU
7. EMU over WMU
8. WMU over EMU
9. Akron over Ohio
10. Toledo over Ball State
11. BG over Miami