What the race for tournament seeding looks like going into MAC’s final weekend

MAC 3-5One game to go in the MAC season, and much is still unsettled.

I spent too much time Friday puzzling through the MAC standings and the league’s tie-breaking procedures for tournament seedings.

I don’t promise this is 100% correct, but I think it’s the best we can do. Official seedings will be announced shortly after Saturday’s games.

First–round tournament action starts Monday at campus sites. Seeds five through eight will host nine through 12. Five hosts 12, six, hosts 11, etc.

Winner advance to the quarterfinals at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (formerly Quicken Loans Arena) in Cleveland, where they will meet the top four seeds.

Here’s where things stand now:

First seed: Central Michigan (15-2, 22-6 overall)

Even though Central Michigan lost at Toledo Wednesday, it still has a lock on the No. 1 seed in next week’s tournament.

Second seed: Ball State (12-5, 20-8 overall)

Ball State lost at Northern Illinois Wednesday, so it’s possible that Kent State could tie Ball State for second place. The Flashes would have to win at Buffalo and Ball State lose at Western Michigan. I think the Cardinals would get the second seed through tie-breakers. The teams split, and Ball State beat first-place Central Michigan.

(Tie-breaker rules are listed before, but the rule here is that if there is no winner in head-to-head competition, the school that has beaten the highest-ranking team in the league gets the higher seed.)

Third seed: Kent State (11-6, 18-10) (I think.)

Kent State is alone in third place. If the Flashes lose to Buffalo, things get complicated. Ohio and Western are a game behind KSU. If those teams both win, we have a three-way tie for third.

I think Kent would get the tie-breaker because it has the best overall record about the three teams. 

The Flashes beat Western and split with Ohio for a 2-1 record. Ohio lost to Western and split with Kent. 1-2. Western lost to Kent State and beat Ohio. 1-1.

If Kent State and Ohio tie, the tie-breaker goes to their East Division record, as I read the rules. Kent State is 6-2 in the East. Ohio is 4-4.

If Kent and Western tie, Kent gets the higher seed because the Flashes beat the Broncos in January.

Fourth seed: Ohio, Western or Eastern Michigan.

Ohio and Western are 10-7. Eastern is 9-8.

Ohio plays 11th place Miami at home. Western plays Ball State at home. Eastern plays at Central.

If Eastern wins and the others lose, we have a three-way tie. Eastern split with Western and lost to Ohio. 1-2. Ohio beat Eastern and lost to Western. 1-1. Western split with Eastern and beat Ohio. 2-1. So in those circumstances, Western would get  the fourth seed.

I think that scenario is unlikely. Eastern has to beat the first-place team on the road. Ohio and Eastern both are unlikely to lose at home, especially Ohio against Miami.

If Ohio and Western tie, Western gets the higher seed because of its 73-72 win over Ohio in January.

If Eastern and Western tie, we go to a tie-breaker because they split on the season. For those teams to tie, Eastern has to win at first-place Central Michigan Saturday. That would give it the tie-breaker.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine is.

Fifth seed: Ohio, WMU or EMU

Same as the fourth seed. If Ohio and Western win, Eastern can’t catch them.

Sixth seed: EMU or Buffalo

A new team enters the picture. Buffalo is 8-9 and 17-11 overall going into Saturday’s home game with Kent State.

If Eastern wins at Central, it gets the seed. If the Eagles lose and Buffalo wins, they both have 9-9 records. Buffalo gets the higher seed because it beat Eastern 68-63 in January.

Seventh seed: EMU, Toledo or Buffalo

If Buffalo ties Eastern, it owns the sixth seed and EMU claims this spot.

If Eastern beats out Buffalo for sixth, this spot could be a scramble.

If Buffalo loses to Kent State, we could have as much as a three-way tie for seventh.

Enter Akron and Toledo, who are both 7-10. Akron is 14-14 overall. Toledo 12-16. Akron hosts last-place Bowling Green Saturday; Toledo hosts 10th-place Northern Illinois.

If Akron and Toledo win, all three teams are 8-10. In head-to-head-to-head competition, Toledo beat Buffalo twice and Akron once. 3-0. The Rockets win this scenario.

If Akron and Toledo lose, Buffalo owns seventh.

If Akron loses and Toledo wins to tie Buffalo, the Rockets own the tie-breaker because they beat Buffalo twice.

If Toledo loses and Akron wins, Buffalo wins the tie-breaker because of its February win over Kent State. Akron lost to KSU twice.

Eighth seed: Buffalo or Toledo.

This spot is important because it’s the last seed to get a first-round game at home on Monday.

It’s the lowest either Buffalo or Toledo could finish.

Ninth seed: Akron or NIU

If the Zips win, they’re 8-10 and capture this spot.

If they lose, they’re 7-11.

Northern Illinois goes into the weekend at 6-10. If they beat Toledo                                     and Akron loses, NIU and Akron are tied.

And NIU has the tie-breaker because it beat Akron 70-65 on Jan. 18.

11th seed: Miami or Bowling Green

Miami goes into Saturday in 11th with a 4-13 record (11-18 overall). If it wins, it keeps 11th. 

If it loses, it could fall into a tie with Bowling Green, which is 3-14 (10-19 overall).

Miami plays at Ohio. Bowling Green travels to Akron.

Tie-breaker gets even more confusing here. The two teams split. BG beat Ohio and Western Michigan, which are fighting for fourth. Miami beat Western. It plays Ohio Saturday, and the only way BG can tie if for the Redhawks to lose. So best I can figures it, Bowling Green could creep out of last if it won and Miami lost.

12th seed: Miami or Bowling Green

Whoever doesn’t finish 11th.

The tie-breaker rules

I couldn’t find anything current on the MAC website. Here are the rules from a 2015 post I saw online. I don’t think they’ve changed. If have an inquiry in to the MAC public relations folks, but I’m sure they’re awfully busy.

TIE-BREAKER PROCEDURE
Ties in winning percentage, and thus for tournament seeding positions shall be broken as follows:

1. Between TWO teams:
A. Head-to-head competition

B. Division Record (10 games)^

C. Winning percentage* vs. ranked conference teams (top to bottom, regardless of division, vs. common opponents regardless of the number of times played)

D. Coin flip

2. For MULTIPLE (3 or more) team ties:
E. Total won-lost record/winning percentage* of games played among the tied teams

F. Two (2)-team tie-breaker procedure goes into effect (refer to A)
[NOTE: Once a three-team tie has been reduced to two teams, the two-team tiebreaker will go into effect.]

^ – For the purpose of determining the Division champion. This tiebreaker is ONLY used for seeding purposes if the two teams in question are tied for the Division lead. (Teams will still be considered co-divisional champions)

* – Winning percentage is used instead of record because of situations where teams do not play each other the same number of times. Therefore, a team that is 1-0 (1.000) would win the tiebreaker over a team that is 1-1 (.500).

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