With just one more set of games to go before the MAC Tournament things are starting to get clearer, but not without some complication. All 12 teams played Tuesday night, resulting in some serious shuffling atop the MAC standings. Let's take a look at where things and where they can go with just one game (per team) to go.
1) Western Michigan
The Broncos moved into the front-runners position for the No. 1 overall seed and a triple-bye in the upcoming MAC Tournament. For WMU getting the No. 1 seed is simple: beat Central Michigan Friday and the No. 1 seed is theirs. This is because even if Toledo & WMU tie, WMU holds the tie-breaker due to splitting the head-to-head with the Rockets and having a better record vs. West Division opponents.
There is however an outside shot that WMU could fall to No. 3, and this is where it gets complicated. A WMU loss and a Toledo win gives the Rockets the No. 1 seed, and as long as Bowling Green beats Buffalo WMU could finish no worse than No. 2. If however WMU loses, Toledo wins and Buffalo wins the Broncos slip to the No. 3 seed due to losing to Buffalo head-to-head. If all three teams win out, they all finish how they're currently seeded.
The Rockets were the big winners securing no worse than the No. 2 seed thanks to their win and Buffalo's loss. Toledo holds a tie-breaker with Buffalo and currently has a one game lead on the Bulls meaning Toledo cannot finish lower than UB no matter what.
Toledo needs some help to get that No. 1 seed though. The Rockets would need to win, no matter what, on Saturday vs. EMU, and WMU would have to fall to CMU for Toledo to get the No. 1 seed. A loss and a WMU loss still gives WMU the No. 1 seed. A loss and a WMU win still gives WMU the No. 1 seed. A win and a WMU win still gives WMU the No. 1 seed. Get the point?
The Bulls really screwed themselves Tuesday. Their loss to Akron made things incredibly complicated for them. As stated with WMU, Buffalo needs some help. If WMU and Toledo win out, it doesn't matter what UB does, it can't finish better than No. 3. It also can't finish worse than No. 3 however. The Bulls have an outside shot at getting the coveted No. 2 seed and earning a direct bye until the semifinals if they beat Bowling Green and WMU loses to CMU with a
The Zips really helped their cause Tuesday. The win over Buffalo not only kept them a solid game up on Ohio, it means all the Zips have to do now is win and they get the No. 4 seed and a double-bye. Considering how tough those middle rounds can be this is huge. Akron plays host to Kent State Friday at 7 p.m. If the Zips lose and Ohio wins (& EMU loses) however the Zips would be knocked down to the five seed due to having fewer wins vs East Division opponents (5 vs. 6 in this case). A loss coupled with an Ohio loss still gives the Zips the No. 4 seed.
A fifth place finish would result in a home-game in the first round for Akron, but a double-bye is much more preferable. For Keith Dambrot it's pretty simple: Friday is a must-win game.
Those "Cardiac 'Cats" still have a shot at a double-bye and the No. 4 seed following the win over Bowling Green Tuesday. Ohio still needs some help from Kent State to make it happen but if KSU beats Akron and Ohio wins at Miami on Saturday the 'Cats take the No. 4 seed. If Akron wins it doesn't matter, the best Ohio can do is No. 5. If Ohio losses the worst it can do is No. 6. That would require an EMU win on the road vs. Toledo on Saturday. That would give the Eagles the better 11-7 (vs. 10-8) MAC play record. If the 'Cats finish fifth or sixth they get a first-round home game. Ohio holds the tie-breaker vs. EMU if they both win (or lose) because of head-to-head. Still, the goal is to skip the first two rounds and head directly to the neutral court of Cleveland (via the No. 4 seed).
6) Eastern Michigan
The Eagles, like Ohio, can finish no worse than No. 6, but unlike Ohio has no shot at getting the No. 4 seed. This gets tricky, so pay attention. Even if EMU winds up with an identical conference mark of (11-7) with Akron (this would require an Akron loss on Friday and an EMU win on Saturday) because Akron beat EMU twice this season Akron holds the tie-breaker. Since Akron holds the tie-breakers over both Ohio and EMU the Zips can finish no lower than fifth.
The Bobcats hold the tiebreaker over EMU because of their win over the Eagles. This means EMU can only finish with the No. 5 or the No. 6 seed. The only way to get the No. 5 seed is to beat Toledo on Saturday with an Ohio loss to Miami. If both win, EMU gets the No. 6 seed. If both lose, EMU gets the sixth seed. The only hope of moving up to the fifth seed is an Ohio loss. On the bright side the Eagles can't do worse than a first-round home game.
The next three teams (Miami included) are fighting it out for the 7, 8, and 9 seeds. Miami currently is in the best position for the No. 7 seed, having a game up on NIU & Kent State in the standings. For the RedHawks, it's easy: Beat Ohio and they get the No. 7 spot. No matter what else happens. If however Miami loses, it get's a bit messy.
If Miami loses & Kent State wins that gives them an identical 8-10 conference mark, but Kent State would have more divisional wins giving them a tie breaker. NIU holds the tiebreaker with both due to having beat Miami head-to-head, and having split the head-to-head series with Kent State but having a better record vs. Divisional foes. A Miami loss and a win by both Kent State & NIU would bump the RedHawks down all the way to No. 9. A loss and a win by Kent State coupled with a loss by NIU would bump the 'Hawks down to the 8 seed. A loss and an NIU win coupled with a Kent State loss would give the 'Hawks the No. 8 seed as well. Miami can't do worse than No. 9.
8) Northern Illinois
Things are a bit more complicated for the Huskies. As mentioned above the hold the tiebreakers over both Kent State and Miami, which would be fantastic if they didn't already trail Miami by a game. If all three teams win out, NIU get's the No. 8 seed and there's nothing it can do it about it. If however Miami losses and NIU wins, the Huskies get the No. 7 seed, regardless of what happens with Kent State.
There's an outside shot that NIU could slip to the No. 9 seed, but it would require a losing to Ball State and Miami losing to Ohio while Kent State wins. This would give Kent State a tiebreaker vs. Miami, and a game up on NIU. The most likely scenario is that NIU winds up with a home-game in the first-round as either the No. 7 or No. 8 seed.
9) Kent State
By falling to Miami Tuesday Kent State really twisted things up. Currently sitting a game behind Miami and having lost the tiebreaker with NIU, if the three win out, Miami gets No. 7, NIU no. 8 and KSU No. 9. This is where things get tricky though, if the right combination of wins and losses pop up Kent State could finish as high as No. 7, or as low as No. 10.
Get your notebooks out: If Miami wins, KSU wins and NIU loses the Flashes get the No. 8 seed due to a better conference mark than NIU. If Miami wins, NIU wins and Kent State loses the Flashes could finish with the No. 9 seed, or the No. 10 seed. This is dependent on BGSU beating Buffalo. If that happened KSU & Bowling green would have identical conference marks and identical winning percentages vs East Division foes.
They split head-to-head so that would cause the tiebreaker to be winning percentage vs. the top teams in the conference. Here's where BG wins. This would give the Falcons wins over WMU, Ohio and two vs. Buffalo compared to KSU which has one win vs Ohio & Akron each. The same applies if Miami looses, NIU wins, BGSU wins and Kent State loses. The Flashes can snag the No. 7 seed but only if Miami and NIU both lose and Kent State wins. If KSU wins out they can do no worse than No. 9. But facing Akron Friday night means anything is possible.
10) Bowling Green
As mentioned above Bowling Green's chances of moving up rests on the shoulder of Kent State. The Falcons will wind up with the No. 10 seed no matter what if they lose, but even if they win there are only three possible ways to get the No. 9 seed and all involve Kent State losing. If BG wins & Kent State loses the No. 9 seed is the Falcons.
11) Central Michigan
These last two teams are fighting it out for the No. 11 & No. 12 seeds, and CMU currently has the advantage due to a one game lead in the standings. If CMU wins the No. 11 seed is theirs. If CMU loses and Ball State loses (the most likely scenario) the No. 11 seed goes to the Chips. If however CMU loses and Ball State wins the Chips slip down to No. 12 due to the record vs better opponents clause. The Cardinals would then have wins over Buffalo & NIU (as well as CMU) vs. CMU's wins vs. NIU & Kent State (as well as Ball State).
12) Ball State
The Cardinals need some help, but it's possible to move up out of No. 12. See above.
If all of this is reading a bit confusing to you, no worries, it is. We've created a spreadsheet with every possible scenario for those of you that do better with things such as that. You can view it here.