MAC Basketball Tournament: Northern Illinois, Lightning and Very Small Chances

Huskies beware. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

For the sake of argument, let's say that Northern Illinois has about 20 people in the traveling party in Cleveland right now. Twelve players, the coaches, the medical staff, the managers, it is probably more than 20, but let's say 20.

The chances that one of the members of that group gets hit with lightning this year, is about 0.0025 percent, according to the National Weather Service.

By winning Monday, Northern Illinois' previously inconsequential chance of winning the MAC tournament is now... wait for it... 0.0026 percent.

Congratulations Huskies! You now have a better chance to go to be playing in Dayton on Tuesday than one of your crew being hit by lightning. I think I little Aksel Bolin shuffle is in order.

Things got a little easier for teams at the top of the MAC on Monday. With the upsets perpetrated by Northern Illinois and Central Michigan, the chances for the cream of the crop during the season got a whole lot better.

As we learned in Matt's slightly scary video presentation, the two lowest seeds in the tournament have never both won in the same season. He quotes KenPom for his stats, who uses "theory" and "experimentation" to come up with this statistics.

I prefer to use the hard data, that I have compiled, through a lot of hard work also known as typing in box scores. Yes, this is probably why I need new contacts.

The chances of both Northern Illinois and Central Michigan winning Monday according to the 28,000-plus games recorded: 0.55 percent, or about the percentage of viewers of Matt's video who thought there was more to see here at Hustle Belt.

We had about a 50 percent chance of having both Western Michigan and Toledo play on, so we don't have the most improbable lineup meeting Wednesday, but it does still resemble one that the secretary in your office who picks NCAA tournaments based on mascots might have chosen.

Where do the chances sit now, based on updated computer rankings and percentages?

The computer gives Western Michigan an 85.5 percent chance to win tonight, and the Rockets move on 72.1 percent of the time.

As we look ahead to the semifinals, here the chances for each of the teams that could be playing Thursday to make it to Friday.

Team Percent Team Percent
Kent State 75.21 Ohio 87.70
Western Michigan 23.83 Toledo 10.48
Northern Illinois 1.2 Central Michigan 1.83

As you can see, of the teams playing on Wednesday, only Western Michigan seems a possible threat for the title after Thursday, and even that is kind of a long shot. Ohio is again, the top computer-rated team in the conference, and why it is so dominant in the table.

We will skip ahead to the championship because adding in Akron and Buffalo really starts to tilt things toward the top four.

Here are your updated MAC championship chances for the teams still playing:

Team Percent
Ohio 43.368
Akron 32.361
Buffalo 13.784
Kent State 8.908
Western Michigan 1.062
Toledo 0.486
Central Michigan 0.029
Northern Illinois 0.003

Central Michigan and Northern Illinois improved their overall hopes by winning Monday, it just doesn't really make a big difference in the end.

There is a 4 percent chance that both of them get through tonight's games and will be in the quarterfinals, something that looked close to impossible Monday.

For Northern's sake, let's just hope there are no storms in the Cleveland area Wednesday.

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