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MAC Tiebreakers, Simplified: A Preview Of The Final Weekend

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It's the 11th hour. (Or, more accurately, the 16th game.) With six more regular season matches left on the docket, five of them will determine what can only be described as a tabula rasa for the first nine seeds. To better demonstrate, please write KENT, MIAMI, OHIO, AKRON, BOWLING GREEN, BUFFALO, CENTRAL MICHIGAN, WESTERN MICHIGAN, and BALL STATE on nine different balloons. Now let the balloons go, and if you filled them with helium, they're gone forever.

This won't help you understand who will be what seed after weekend, but neither will looking at the tiebreakers. And at least this way, you got to play with balloons.

But there are mathematical solutions to this problem. And courtesy of Bull Run, who permutated the outcomes much faster than this blogger, the 32 possible results of the five "games that matter" give us all the likely seeds:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Kent 93.13% 0.00% 6.87% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
WMU 0.00% 100.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Miami 6.87% 0.00% 70.33% 6.46% 16.34% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
BSU 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 48.52% 22.10% 25.46% 3.92% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
OU 0.00% 0.00% 5.88% 27.18% 50.72% 16.22% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Akron 0.00% 0.00% 16.92% 17.84% 6.92% 16.43% 41.89% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Buffalo 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 3.92% 41.89% 31.19% 14.72% 8.28% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
BGSU 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 23.00% 49.28% 27.72% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
CMU 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 36.00% 64.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
NIU 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 100% 0.00% 0.00%
EMU 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 100% 0.00%
Toledo 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 100%

Again: Some of the numbers are off, because it says WMU is guaranteed the No. 2 seed, and that's not true because Ball State holds the divisional-record tiebreaker. Still, damn, that's some great work. If you're wondering where the percentages come from, he's using the Pomeroy projections for each game. He has the drilled down list of outcomes, and while it's amazing that he did them all, one look at them and understand what it means cause your brain to curdle.

So let's take the only logical step: guess at who wins the games and determine what that one scenario would be. It's also the fastest method, which by default makes it the most logical.

FRIDAY

7 p.m. — OHIO at Miami: The first game was a triple-overtime classic in Athens. The rematch will be a major player in determining first-round byes and seeding. Hey, why not. This time around, however, MU will be short one Antonio Ballard, and they really leaned on him in that 3OT game (he played all 55 minutes) as he nailed 26 points on 12 shots and also brought home 12 rebounds. You'd have to think Julian Mavunga is now the one to lead them to a victory, and doing so clinches a share of the MAC regular season championship and perhaps — with the right dominoes in place — that No. 1 seed. But a win guarantees them the No. 3, which ain't half bad either.

We may have another overtime game on our hands in Oxford, but everybody on the Bobcats is playing far too well to say "nope, they're gonna get canned on the road." Always ride the five-game winning streak, especially when three of them were on the road, two were in overtime, and one was by 25 against Akron. We'll give this one to OHIO.

7 p.m. — Akron at Kent State: The situation is simple for Kent State: win the conference outright with a win. Lose, and that No. 1 seed is still probably theirs, but they do so with five conference losses and two against their crosstown rivals. Existing concerns about KSU running through the tournament unscathed remain, but so does getting dropped by a quarter hundy earlier this week. To take care of business at home, put me down for a Kent State victory special.

SATURDAY

1 p.m. — Buffalo at Bowling Green: While it's being billed as the final game in Anderson Arena history, that's totally not true. A win puts BG at the No. 7 spot, hosting NIU. A loss keeps them at No. 9. For Buffalo, they're fighting to keep a home playoff spot alive, which is crucial because they don't do so well on the road. And here they will stand, in Wood County, which is not near Buffalo. Their last road victory was January 25 at WMU, which was five trips ago. That's a less daunting skid than Bowling Green's overall losing streak, which stands at six. They were only clownpunched once in that streak — the 35-point loss at home to Akron — and the rest were fair fights. With history coming to a close, and one more trip in the House that Roars on the line, Bowling Green oughta seal the win.

2 p.m. — Northern Illinois at Ball State: NIU is already the No. 10 team. No question about that. They can try to spoil Ball State's attempt at winning the MAC West, but don't count on much resistance if Xavier Silas is still sitting with just one proper ankle. To grab a share of the division and the FRB, the Cardinals also need WMU to drop like a sack of potatoes. But they will do their part, which is a Ball State victory.

2 p.m. — Western Michigan at Central Michigan: This one, however, just became triplicately interesting. With Flenard Whitfield out for the game because of this fracas, that leaves them shorthanded but not unable to contain CMU's guards and inside players. But what about the other way around? The Chippewas' defense, or total lack thereof, was on full display when they ushered Ball State back into their game. Don't look for any 46-16 runs, but WMU has some shooters that'll surprise you, especially if the Chips can't rotate to them fast enough. Despite the shorthandedness, Western Michigan clinches the MAC West.

2 p.m. — Toledo at Eastern Michigan: No, this game won't affect the seeding a lick, but it's UT's last decent chance at a victory this season (they're going to get clocked against the Future No. 5 Seed) and it would also quietly but dignifiedly break their losing streak which dates back to 2008. On the other hand, they haven't won on the road in a while for a reason. Eastern Michigan takes their final home game.

So with these five games, here are our predicted seeds:

1. Kent State (12-4, MAC East champs, first-round bye)
2. Western Michigan (11-5, MAC West champs, first-round bye)
3. OHIO (10-6, first-round bye, wins head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami and Ball State)
4. Miami (10-6, first-round bye, wins head-to-head tiebreaker over Ball State)
5. Ball State (10-6) vs. 12. Toledo (1-15)
6. Akron (9-7) vs. 11. Eastern Michigan (5-11, loses head-to-head tiebreaker against Northern Illinois)
7. Bowling Green (8-8, wins head-to-head tiebreaker over Buffalo) vs. 10. Northern Illinois (5-11)
8. Buffalo (8-8) vs. 9. Central Michigan (7-9)

According to UBBR's statistical map, this only has a 3.76% chance of happening. Which is pretty much what you ought to deduce about any of my predictions.

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