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The Road to a First Round Bye in the MAC Women’s Tournament

It should be an exciting race for that last spot

Kenneth Bailey

There are just 4 games left on each team’s schedule.

In the West, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois and Ball State are all in prime position to move on. It’s likely going to take 12 or 13 wins to get a bye. All three are sitting there with at least 11 wins, and all three have Eastern Michigan left on the schedule.

In the East, Ohio and Kent are sitting at the top of the standings, with 9 wins each. With their remaining schedules, I would be shocked if one, or both, don’t end up with at least 12 wins.

Even though there are only 4 games left on the schedule, there could still be a whole lot of wacky. This list is going to ignore a lot of that, and I am only going to include the teams that have a reasonable chance, starting with least to best. In fact, the first two teams on my list really don’t have much of a chance in my humble opinion.

Toledo Rockets

8-6 in the MAC, 4th Place in the West

Remaining Schedule

  • Eastern Michigan, 2/22, 7p.m.
  • Western Michigan, 2/25, 2p.m.
  • at Northern Illinois, 3/1, 9p.m.
  • at Ball State, 3/4, 2p.m.

I debated leaving the Rockets off the list, because even if they win out, 12 wins might not be good enough. The West is so bad at the bottom, it’s very possible that 3 teams could be sitting there with 12 wins. The problem is that if Buffalo doesn’t beat Ohio and Kent State, it’s probable that at least one of those two teams is going to have 13 wins on the year and will secure the 4th spot.

Buffalo Bulls

8-6 in the MAC, 3rd Place in the East

Remaining Schedule

  • Ohio, 2/22, 7p.m.
  • Bowling Green, 2/25, 1p.m.
  • at Akron, 3/1, 7p.m.
  • at Kent State, 3/4, 2p.m.

I am going to pretend that the three teams in the West will have 13 wins or more, which is a good possibility, because the tiebreakers stretch out too far if not.

In that scenario, if Buffalo wins out, and things go according to plan for Ohio and Kent State, there will be a three way tie for the last spot. In that case, the tie-breaker is record against the three tied teams, which would eliminate Ohio. Buffalo would then win the tiebreaker with Kent, since Buffalo would then have beaten Kent State twice.

Buffalo also gets the nod if they win out and Ohio stumbles against a lesser team.

If Buffalo and Ohio win out, and Kent State stumbles, then it’s a coin flip for the 4th bye with Ohio.

Ohio Bobcats

9-5 in the MAC, Tied First in the East

Remaining Games

  • at Buffalo, 2/22, 7p.m.
  • Miami, 2/25, 2p.m.
  • Bowling Green, 3/1, 7p.m.
  • Akron, 3/4, 2p.m.

Ohio can win out, and still not get the last spot. Kent State holds the tiebreaker. If Ohio knocks off Buffalo tomorrow, then they need to become Buffalo’s biggest fan, as Buffalo provides the best chance for Kent State to lose.

One thing going in the Bobcats favor is that they hold the tiebreaker with Ball State.

Kent State Golden Flashes

9-5 in the MAC, Tied First in the East

Remaining Schedule

  • at Bowling Green, 2/22, 7p.m.
  • Akron, 2/25, 2p.m.
  • at Miami, 3/1, 7p.m.
  • Buffalo, 3/4, 2p.m.

Baring a major upset, Kent State’s path is quite simple. Win against Buffalo in the last game of the season, at home. If they don’t win out, there are some ways they can still get in, but would need help.

Ball State Cardinals

11-3 in the MAC, Tied Second in the West

Remaining Games

  • at Western Michigan, 2/22, 7p.m.
  • Central Michigan, 2/25, 2p.m.
  • at Eastern Michigan, 3/1, 7p.m.
  • Toledo, 3/4, 2p.m.

Ball State and Northern Illinois are in the same position, with one major difference. They both have the same teams on their schedule. They will both likely knock off Eastern Michigan. Toledo and Western are good opponents, and Central is great. To hit the 13 win mark, they will likely only need to beat one of three good teams. The difference is Ball State has a loss to Ohio, so if they are sitting there with 13 wins, and so are the Bobcats, Ohio gets the bye.

To be safe, they need to win 3 out of the last 4 or root for an Ohio loss.

Northern Illinois Huskies

11-3 in the MAC, Tied Second in the West

Remaining Games

  • at Central Michigan, 2/22, 7p.m.
  • at Eastern Michigan, 2/25, 2:30p.m.
  • Toledo, 3/1, 9p.m.
  • at Western Michigan, 3/4, 2p.m.

Northern Illinois has a pretty simple and straight forward path to a bye. Beat Eastern Michigan, like they are supposed to. Win against either Toledo or Western Michigan. If they can do that, they are in. Since they have winning records against Ohio and Kent, they don’t need to worry about what happens in the East if they only manage two wins.

They also own the tiebreaker against Buffalo, so they sitting pretty in any tiebreaker scenario against the East if they only manage to get to 12 wins.

Central Michigan Chippewas

12-2 in the MAC, First Place Overall

Remaining Games

  • Northern Illinois, 2/22, 7p.m
  • at Ball State, 2/25, 2p.m.
  • at Western Michigan, 3/1, 7p.m.
  • Eastern Michigan, 3/4, 1p.m.

Central Michigan is a virtual lock. The odds of them losing out is teeny, and even then they could get in. Win 1, and I don’t see a scenario where they can be left out. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but it would be way outside the realm of likely.