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BG on senior night, 2 spot on the line — we’ve been here before

Photo Courtesy of UB Athletics

This is familiar: The UB Men are hosting Bowling Green on Senior Night and the regular season finale. With the right combination of results, they could rise to #2 in the conference tournament. With the wrong combination, they could fall to a home campus round game.

Now, I’m someone who’s very much of the mind that to win the conference, you’re going to have to win tough games against good teams, and the seeding and potential path isn’t terribly important. But we’ve seen years running now the benefit of a bye to Cleveland, and looking at the potential brackets unfold and shake out as the weekend night progresses gives us something to talk about.

I’m not going to drop huge tables into the post, so >> follow this link to see everything <<.

Getting to work:

  1. Spots 2-6 are up in the air, and will be filled in some order by Ohio, Buffalo, WMU, Kent State, and Ball State
  2. Five games today cover those five teams. The only match up that has any relevance beyond affecting W/L records is Akron-Kent, because Akron is guaranteed the 1 seed and after head-to-head, record vs Akron is the next tiebreaker.

In the linked spreadsheet, I’ve got on the far right all the head-to-head records among the top six teams. The middle columns are the possible combinations of results among the five games tonight, and the far right columns are the resultant Cleveland Byes, with an explanation of UB’s seeding.

There’s no point in rooting for a particular combination of events at this point, as a number of paths can get UB to any place. But looking at all the possibilities, it’s clear which games deserve more attention:

  1. UB - Bowling Green. On one hand, duh, but it’s also comforting to see that a win guarantees UB a bye. There are only two possibilities (of 16) for the remaining games to shake out where UB falls to #4 with a win.
  2. Akron - Kent. After this one, UB has paths to 2 and 3 with a win, or a bye even with a loss with all other combinations. But a Kent win is a big snag for UB seeding. Obviously, with Kent win / UB loss, Kent pulls ahead outright, while a UB-Kent head-to-head or multi-team tie is dangerous because of the Flashes 1-0 record against Ball State (UB 1-1) and their 2-0 record versus Akron should it go past head-to-head is an ace in the hold. Of course, this game is later in the night than all others, so we’ll know where we stand and what’s at risk heading into it.
  3. WMU - CMU. It’s not so much that we want a win or a loss from WMU, but it would be really helpful for them to win with us or lose with us, as we’re the only team in the jumble that hasn’t lost to them. That’s super valuable in a multi-team tiebreaker.
  4. Ohio - Miami. This one really doesn’t mean much, to be honest. A Miami win makes it much more likely that UB dodges Ohio as a possible semifinal opponent, but doesn’t change the overall probability of 2-3 versus 4 or lower for UB.
  5. Ball State - NIU. If Ball State loses, UB will finish in front of them, but this result only comes into play much when UB is in the 4-5 range in multi-team ties. It’s worth noting that all scenarios where UB falls to #6 involve a Cardinal win, so that may be worth attention.

A few more observations:

  • UB still grabs a bye with a loss in nearly half the possibilities. These scenarios largely hinge on WMU also losing so we end up in the same multi-team tiebreaker.
  • A win gives UB the #2 seed in half the possibilities, but ... the path to the #2 with an Ohio win is narrow: it requires a WMU win and Ball State loss. As I said above, the Ohio result doesn’t affect 3/4/5 very much for UB.
  • Again, a Kent win over Akron is largely bad news. And again, we’ll be down to just two possibilities shortly after that one tips.

My predictions? The three I’m most confident in are Ohio, UB, and Akron, which regardless of the West puts UB and Ohio in the 2-3 semifinal track.