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February 23, 2012

Let's Talk Tiebreakers!

Saturday brings the end of the road for the 2012 regular season but there is still so much to be decided.  Here we will take a close look at both the men’s and women’s brackets to see who is in, who is out, what seeds are at stake and who will claim the regular-season crowns.

Men’s Basketball

The eight teams for the PBC Tournament have been decided but what is left up in the air is exactly what seeds those teams will have.

USC Aiken captured the #1 seed in the east with their dramatic double-overtime win against Francis Marion on Wednesday night, but Augusta State’s loss at Lander has created an interesting mix for the remaining three seeds between ASU, Lander and UNC Pembroke.

The key game this Saturday will be UNCP at Lander.  If UNCP wins, they will capture the #2 seed regardless of what anyone else does.  The Braves split their regular-season series with Augusta State, but hold a superior divisional record (8-3 to ASU’s 6-5).  A UNCP win will put ASU at the #3 and Lander as the #4. 

But what if Lander wins on their home court?  We will examine this scenario in two ways: 1) if ASU loses at Armstrong and 2) if ASU wins at Armstrong. 

1 - An ASU loss at Armstrong (combined with a Lander win over UNCP) would create a three-way tie at 11-7.  The PBC tiebreaker begins with head-to-head results and we would look all three teams as a mini-conference with the combined record against the other two.  Under this scenario, all three teams remain tied at 2-2.  The next step would be divisional record.  Here the three-way tie would be broken with ASU coming out first with a 6-6 in-division record while UNCP and Lander would be 8-4.  ASU would be the #4 seed and, following PBC protocol, UNCP and Lander would go back to step #1.

With ASU in place, Lander and UNCP go back to the top.  They split their head-to-head (remember, assuming a Lander win on Saturday) and have the same divisional record at 8-4.  The next step of the tiebreaker would be their results against the #1 seed in the division and, if still tied, the #2 seed and so on all the way to #6.  Both teams split with #1 USC Aiken, they are fighting for the 2 and 3, and both split with #4 ASU.  Francis Marion is the #5 team and here is where the tie will be broken.  Lander beat the Patriots twice while UNCP split. 

So, to sum up scenario #1 – An ASU loss at Armstrong combined with a Lander win over UNCP will mean Lander is #2, UNCP #3 and ASU #4.

2 – But, an ASU win at Armstrong combined with a Lander win over UNCP will give ASU the #2 seed with a 12-6 conference record while UNCP and Lander will both be 11-7.  Lander and UNCP would then go through the tiebreak again with Lander coming out on top thanks to their sweep of FMU.

Now, let’s take a look at the west division.

Montevallo currently leads with an 11-5 overall record.  The Falcons face North Georgia on Saturday in the season finale and a win would, of course, guarantee the top seed.  So we will begin our analysis by projecting a UM loss and how that will affect Columbus State and Georgia College, both of whom are but one game behind.  We will look at three scenarios:

1)      UM loses with Columbus State winning and Georgia College losing

2)      UM loses with Georgia College winning and Columbus State losing

3)      UM loses with both Georgia College and Columbus State winning

1 – Should UM and Columbus State find themselves alone atop the west at 11-6, UM will take the #1 seed thanks to their two wins over the Cougars.  CSU would be #2 and GC #3

2 – If UM and Georgia College are alone atop the division, then Georgia College is the #1 seed thanks to their season sweep of the Falcons.  GC is #1, UM #2 and CSU #3

3 – But what about the three-way tie?  UM losing with both CSU and GC winning would put all three at 11-6.  If that happens, Georgia College once again comes out on top.  The Bobcats have a 3-1 combined record against CSU and UM and would take the top seed.  Following PBC protocol, UM and CSU would then go back to step #1 in a head-to-head tiebreak where Montevallo would take the #2 seed and CSU the #3.

Should all three teams win and Georgia College and Columbus State end up tied by themselves, Georgia College would get the #2 seed and Columbus State the #3.  The two teams split their regular season matchups and have the same division record, so the tie is broken by how they performed against the #1 team in their division: Montevallo.  Georgia College swept the Falcons twice while Columbus State fell twice, giving the Bobcats the higher seed.

Clayton State has secured the #4 seed.

For the regular-season championship, the PBC regulations have been adjusted.  Since the divisions play a different number of conference games, it was deemed more fair to award the regular-season championship to the team with the least number of losses (rather than by winning percentage).  USC Aiken has only four losses while Montevallo has five.  A USCA loss with a UM win would create co-Champions.

Women’s Basketball

The top three teams in both the east and west divisions have clinched playoff spots.  The #4 seed in both divisions is still up for grabs and, incredibly, both will be decided on Saturday in head-to-head, winner-take-all matchups.

In the east, Augusta State is at Armstrong with the winner claiming the #4 seed.  Armstrong sits one game ahead of ASU, but a Jaguar win puts both teams at 7-11 in league play.  If ASU wins, they split the season series with Armstrong and win the tiebreak with a 5-7 in-division record, where Armstrong would be 4-8.

The fight for the #4 seed in the west between North Georgia and Montevallo is nearly the same.  North Georgia holds a one-game lead but a Montevallo win on Saturday would put both at 6-11 and give UM a series sweep and the seed.

In the east division, UNC Pembroke is the #3 seed and that will not change.  The battle for the top two seeds comes down to USC Aiken and Lander.  Both sit at 15-2 in conference play, but USC Aiken holds the tiebreak thanks to their series sweep of Lander this year.  Lander would have to beat UNCP this Saturday and have USCA lose at Flagler to claim the top seed.

In the west, Clayton State has run away with it and will be the #1 seed.  The battle will be between Columbus State and Georgia Southwestern for the 2 and 3 seeds.  The two play each other in Columbus on Saturday with the winner capturing the #2 seed.

For the regular-season championship, Clayton State controls their own destiny with only one loss in conference play.  However, should the Lakers stumble against Georgia College, any team with two losses (USCA or Lander) would be named a co-Champion along with the Lakers.