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Sorting out the confusion

By mrasor Published: March 6, 2009

Men's basketball
With regard to substance, there is a four-way tie for the MAC lead.
After Sunday, there could be an outright winner, which would be either Miami or Buffalo, who play each other. There could be a two-way tie between Miami/Buffalo and either Akron or Bowling Green. Or there could be a three-way tie between Miami/Buffalo, Akron and Bowling Green.
The first tiebreaker (head-to-head) is unlikely to sort out the conference champion. Keith Dambrot is concerned that the confusion relating to the second tiebreaker will cause a coin flip to determine the winner.
With regard to procedure, there are two issues:
1) Who is the "second-ranked" team for purposes of the second tiebreaker? It could be: The MAC West champion, which will occupy the No. 2 seed OR The team(s) with the second-best record, which will come from the East division. I believe it would be more fair to have the tiebreaker decided by competition against the best overall team, but what do I know? Gregg Bach says it's the MAC West team, so I believe him.
2) If there is a tie for the "second-ranked" team, is the initial step to break that tie for second, or are the first-place teams graded against each of the teams tied for second? If I understand it correctly, Dambrot said you have to break the tie for second, then apply the tiebreaker for first. That could create a TON of confusion if the tie for second descended to the second tiebreaker. From reading the MAC's Web site, I disagree.
Dambrot obviously knows what he's talking about. However, here is what the MAC's Web site says regarding my question: "When comparing tied teams against positions lower in the standings, which are also tied, those lower-tied positions will be considered as a single position for purposes of comparison. (Example: Team A and Team B, who tied for second place, would compare against Team X and Team Y who tied for 6th as follows: Team A would compare its combined record against both X and Y against Team B’s combined record against both X and Y.)"
If I am right, there is no need to break the West tie first. For example, if Buffalo and Akron are tied for first and WMU and BSU are tied for the West lead, then UA and UB compare their combined records against WMU and BSU. Akron is 2-0 against those teams. Buffalo is 1-1. Therefore, Akron wins the MAC.
I will analyze the specific scenarios tomorrow. Don't be surprised if I'm completely wrong on this. I'm astonished that a tiebreaker could be so confusing.

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