Chart is from the MAC sports information office
The magic number for Kent to host a MAC Tournament game is one.
If the Flashes — currently fifth in the MAC standings at 8-3 — win one more game or Miami — currently ninth — loses one, KSU can do no worse than an eighth seed in the tournament.
The first four seeds in the tournament get a first-round bye and will play in the quarterfinals of tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday, March 8. The second four play home games against the lowest seeds on Monday, March 6. The winner of those games advance to the quarterfinals.
Kent State hasn’t made it to Cleveland through either a first-round win or a bye since 2010-11.
Right now the Flashes would have the fifth seed and play last place Eastern Michigan, a team they’ve beaten twice by an average of 18.5 points.
The chances of KSU getting a first-round bye pretty much boil down to this Saturday’s game against 9-3 Ohio, which is a game-and-a-half ahead of Kent in the standings.
Kent State beat Ohio in Athens Jan. 14. If the Flashes were to win again, they’d have the tie breaker if the teams finished with the same league record. OU would still have to lose another game; it has a tough one Wednesday at home against Central Michigan, the current co-leader in the West Division.
KSU is a half game ahead of 7-5 Toledo and holds the tiebreaker against the Rockets because of a 70-60 win against Toledo Jan. 21.
The Flashes are a game-and-a-half ahead of seventh-place Buffalo (6-6), but the Bulls beat KSU 77-62 in their first meeting. The teams meet again in Kent the last game of the season. If Buffalo wins that game, it will hold the tie breaker against Kent.
Buffalo also has a home game against Ohio this month. The three teams’ record against each other will pretty much decide the Eastern Division title and the fourth seed in the tournament.
All of them also face 2-10 Akron, 2-10 Bowling Green and 3-9 Miami.
Ball State in the West Division is two full games ahead of Kent State. Central Michigan and Northern Illinois are two-and-a-half. Catching them is not impossible — those teams play each other, Toledo and Western Michigan. But all three beat Kent State earlier this season and hold that tie breaker.
That’s a lot of ground to make up. Kent State would likely have to beat either Buffalo or Ohio to have any chance of doing it. And if the Flashes do, they might pass Ohio in the standings.
Who gets the higher seed if Ohio, Buffalo and/or Kent split? As I understand it, that’s decided by who has the best record against the highest ranking team in the league.
For example, if Central Michigan wins the overall MAC championship, any team that beat CMU would have a tie breaker over a team that lost to the Chippewas. Ohio has beaten Ball State and lost to Central Michigan (and plays the Chipps again this week). Buffalo has beaten Central Michigan but lost to Ball State. Neither Buffalo, Kent State nor Ohio has beaten Northern Illinois.
If schools tied in the standings have the same record against the best team, then the seeding is decided by the best record against the second-best team, and so on.
But that’s getting pretty complicated. We’ll revisit it several times, I’m sure, over the next few weeks.