Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Race for the 1 seed

It's that head-spinning time of year again, when nerds like me try not to fry too many brain cells figuring out what has to happen for which team to finish in which seed for the Horizon League tourney. I have reached the point where I believe I know in every scenario who will get the double-byes and which one will host the Friday-Saturday portion of the tournament. However, this posting will only cover the 1 seed. After UIC plays Detroit, I'll tackle the race for the 2 seed.

CAVEAT: I have not yet read Bill Potter's blog on tiebreakers, so I'm doing my own work here ;)

As things stand now, there are 16 games left and the standings are as follows:
W   L   Games left
Green Bay         11   2   VU, @OU, @UDM
Cleveland State    9   4   UWM, YSU, @VU
Valparaiso         8   4   @GB, YSU, @WSU, CSU
Wright State       7   6   UDM, VU, @UIC
Milwaukee          6   6   @YSU, @CSU, UIC, @UDM
Youngstown State   5   7   UWM, @VU, @CSU, OU
Detroit            5   7   @UIC, @WSU, UWM, GB
Oakland            5   8   @UIC, GB, @YSU
UIC                0  12   UDM, OU, @UWM, WSU
UIC is already installed as the 9 seed since no one else can lose 12. They barely -- if at all -- have any impact on anything (certainly they have to beat someone to hope to be relevant in a tiebreaker).

Green Bay obviously has the inside track to host the 2nd and 3rd rounds, to the tune of 87.8 % of all the possible scenarios (65536 if you're interested). They gain the 1 seed outright by going 3-0 or 2-1 the rest of the way. They can still be the 1 seed at 12-4 as long as Valpo loses at least once, regardless of the victor, because Cleveland State is the only other team to be capable of finishing 12-4 and Green Bay swept the Vikings. If Valparaiso finishes 12-4, that necessarily means that the Crusaders sweep the Phoenix and therefore win the tiebreaker. Moreover, since Valparaiso and Cleveland State play each other on the final day of the regular season, they can't both finish 12-4.

Finally, Green Bay can even be the 1 seed at 11-5 under the following additional conditions: (1) Valpo and Cleveland State both finish 10-6 or worse OR (2) Valpo finishes 10-6 or worse and Cleveland State finishes 11-5 because Green Bay swept Cleveland State OR (3) Valpo finishes 11-5 by losing to Cleveland State and Cleveland State finishes 11-5 and Wright State finishes ahead of Milwaukee and ahead of or tied with Detroit, Oakland : The 3-way tie remains unresolved because of a daisy chain of sweeps (GB sweeps CSU, CSU sweeps Valpo, and Valpo sweeps GB), Green Bay is the only one of the 3 to sweep Wright State while they already have a worse record than Valpo against Milwaukee, if Youngstown State is also tied with Wright State, Green Bay swept them as well, if Detroit is also tied with Wright State, that is enough to eliminate Valpo so that Green Bay can eliminate Cleveland State with it's remaining head-to-head record.

Valparaiso gets the 1 seed in 10.2 % of all scenarios. They can do so by finishing 12-4 if Green Bay finishes no better than 12-4, since Cleveland State will finish no better than 11-5. If it's just a tie between Valpo and Green Bay, Valpo wins via the head-to-head tiebreaker. If all 3 finish at 11-5 and Valpo beats Cleveland State, the head-to-head-to-head reads like this: Valpo 3-1, Green Bay 2-2, Cleveland State 1-3. If Cleveland State beats Valpo, then either Milwaukee or Youngstown State must finish tied with or higher than Wright State. In this situation, Valpo is the only team to sweep Milwaukee and Cleveland State is the only team to lose to Youngstown State. In the latter case, after CSU drops out, Valpo then eliminates Green Bay directly via the head-to-head sweep. There are also 4 scenarios where all three finish 11-5, Detroit 6-10, Oakland and YSU finish 7-9, and WSU and Milwaukee are tied at 7-9, 8-8, or 9-7 where Valpo sweeps with YSU and splits with WSU and CSU sweeps Milwaukee but is swept by YSU. It gets all the way down to the 7-9 teams until finally (as long as Detroit isn't one of them) CSU is eliminated, then Valpo eliminates Green Bay via head-to-head sweep.

Cleveland State gets the 1 seed in 1.9 % of all scenarios. Green Bay must finish 11-5, Valpo must finish 11-5 or worse, and CSU must finish 11-5 or better, including a win over Valpo. If Valpo beats CSU, they will win the 3-way tiebreaker as mentioned above. And that's just for starters: WSU is bad for CSU tiebreaker wise because Green Bay is the only one who swept them. Milwaukee is bad for CSU if the Vikings lose to them because Valpo is the only one who swept them. Detroit is great for CSU because in this situation, CSU is the only one who sweeps them. Oakland is actually bad for CSU because they eliminate Valpo, leaving CSU to be eliminated by Green Bay as shown already. YSU is bad for CSU because CSU has lost to them once while Green Bay swept them. So, if Milwaukee (after beating CSU) or WSU or Oakland or YSU has to break the tie, someone else will get the 1 seed. Milwaukee (after the Vikings beat them) and Detroit are their means to win the tiebreaker, which means Milwaukee cannot finish 10-6. If CSU loses to Milwaukee but they end up tied for 4th with Detroit, then CSU still wins the tiebreaker because they will be 3-1 while Green Bay will be 2-2. Valpo will also be 3-1, but by virtue of CSU's sweep of Valpo, they win the final stage of the tiebreaker. The most interesting case is if Milwaukee and WSU both finish 9-7, CSU beats Milwaukee, and Valpo beats WSU. All 3 teams will be 3-1 against these two teams, so the race continues down to either Oakland or Oakland/Detroit, and CSU wins that tiebreaker all day long.

87.8 + 10.2 + 1.9 = 99.9. What about the other 0.1 %?

Say hello once again to our good old friend "RPI". In 13 scenarios, the 1 seed will be determined by who has the best RPI after the regular season is over. Green Bay, CSU, and Valpo each finish 11-5, with CSU beating Valpo. Take the "also 4 scenarios" case from the Valpo discussion above (were CSU sweeps Milwaukee), only add in Detroit at 7-9, and you have a situation where only UIC is left to break the tie, and since they have already been swept by all 3 teams, we've run out of common opponents. Best guess by the way is that Green Bay ends up winning this RPI tiebreaker, but I haven't checked lately to see how big a lead they have.

If on the other hand, CSU ends up splitting with Milwaukee, then WSU, Milwaukee, and either Detroit or Oakland must end up tied at 8-8 with the remaining teams finishing with less than 8 wins. Since Cleveland State would be the only team to sweep Detroit and Oakland, one of those two teams will save them from elimination since neither Milwaukee nor WSU is kind to them tiebreaker wise. Basically, all 3 teams will finish 4-2 against the 3 8-8 teams. That leaves YSU and either Detroit or Oakland for the next tiebreaker at either 7-9 or 6-10. In this case, CSU splits with YSU, so combined with their sweep of the other team, they match Green Bay and Valpo at 3-1. Once again, that only leaves UIC, which means resorting to the RPI tiebreaker.

Crazy enough for ya? And we're just getting started!

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