Only one scenario can cause Akron not to earn a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament.
Miami wins out and finishes at 11-5. Buffalo goes 2-1, finishes at 10-6. Akron loses out, finishes at 10-6. Because Buffalo will have the first tiebreaker over Akron, the Zips will be the fifth seed, with Miami third and Buffalo fourth. (Buffalo and Miami cannot both finish the season 3-0 because they play each other March 4.)
Any Miami loss or Akron win forecloses this possibility. A Buffalo loss makes it less likely, too.
The picture became clearer once we established that only one MAC West team (Ball State, currently) will likely earn a first-round bye. The others are not contending. After Ball State at 8-5, the closest is Central Michigan at 7-6. While CMU can win the West, it would be impossible for both CMU and Ball State to surpass any Akron (considering the Zips have the tiebreaker over both teams).
The other question is, what seed will Akron claim? Tied with Kent State for first place, the Zips' seed likely will depend on the game against the Flashes at Rhodes Arena on March 5. But let's assume Akron goes into a funk. There are only four scenarios might Akron earn the fourth seed, rather than the third.
1) Buffalo wins out. Akron loses out. The Bulls, with an 11-5 record, surpass Akron at 10-6. 2) Buffalo goes 2-1 (which includes a win at Akron). The Zips finish 0-3. The teams tie at 10-6, but Buffalo gets the tiebreaker because of the Bulls' season sweep over Akron. 3) Buffalo goes 3-0, (which includes a win at Akron). The Zips finish 1-2. The teams tie at 11-5, but Buffalo gets the tiebreaker because of the Bulls' season sweep over Akron. 4) Miami wins out. Akron loses out. The RedHawks, with an 11-5 record, surpass Akron at 10-6. (Akron has the tiebreaker over Miami, so the other Buffalo scenarios do not apply for the RedHawks.)
So what needs to happen? If the Zips win Wednesday vs. Buffalo, they clinch at least the third seed because the above four scenarios become impossible. If Akron loses Wednesday to Buffalo, but wins either of the next two games (@ BG, vs. Kent), then Buffalo is forced to go undefeated (vs. Ohio, @ Miami), and Miami cannot pass the Zips regardless of how the RedHawks finish.
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