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Marquette’s Possible Big East Tournament Seeding And What It Means For The NCAA Tournament

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I wasted my brain cells figuring this out, so you don’t have to...

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, I was sitting on the couch watching the exciting ending of the Seton Hall/Villanova game, followed by the ending of the St. Johns/Butler game. After the conclusion of these games, Big East Twitter started pointing out the fact that all 10 seeds for the Big East Tournament will be decided on Saturday. There were a few people wondering what possible seeds Marquette has the chance to acquire.

Well, I fell for the bait, and boy oh boy, I do not recommend doing that ever again.

I began to look into it, and it was way more complicated than I anticipated. After about 20 minutes, I was looking up tie breaker rules, and at that point I was in too deep. I was determined to figure out the multiple tie-breakers to figure what seeds Marquette has a chance at AND who their opponents would be at each seed. My real world occupation is a tax adviser, so at this time of the year I have numbers circulating through my head 24/7, but this project had my head spinning.

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After about an hour of researching tie-breakers, I think I finally have it pegged down. I thought I would share the results, so you don’t have to destroy unnecessary brain cells. While I’m at it, I’ll take it one step further and use BartTorvik.com Teamcast feature to show the probability of earning a NCAA Tournament bid in each scenario. I have become enamored with this website over the past few weeks as it is a fun tool to project tournament chances. It comes in handy especially in the case of a bubble team like Marquette. Bubble teams have gotten some help this week as teams such as Syracuse, Providence, LSU, Georgia, Boise State, Mississippi State, Alabama, Texas, Kansas State, and Temple all lost. That has put Marquette in this current position according to T-Ranketology:

Last 4 In - 45.7% chance of making it in
barttorvik.com

Teamcast says that Marquette needs 2 consecutive wins to be in the conversation on Selection Sunday. So, for all scenarios which include a Marquette win vs. Creighton on Saturday, we will assume 1 Big East Tournament win, followed by a loss. If they rack up 3 consecutive wins from here forward, Marquette should be safe on Selection Sunday.

If they lose that first game of the tournament, their bubble has more than likely been burst.

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Disclaimer: T-Rank Teamcast does not account for potential different results from other teams on the bubble, nor does it account for those conference tournament winning, bid stealing, wheeling, dealing son of a guns.

For clarity purposes here, I’m going to provide you with the tie-breakers as I can determine them to exist. If I’m getting it wrong, well, blame it on the Big East for not making it obvious enough. They’re going to be contained entirely within a blockquote box here, so skip past for now, come back for reference as needed.

Big East Tournament Tie-Breaking Guide

TIE-BREAKING PROCEDURE FOR SEEDING TWO-TEAM TIE

1. Regular season head-to-head results . If the tied teams split their two games, then proceed to Step 2 below.

2. Each team’s record vs. the team or group of tied teams occupying the highest position in the standings. If an advantage is not determined, proceed to the next team or group of tied teams in the standings for comparison. Continue down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.

MULTIPLE-TEAM TIE (3 or more teams)

1. Teams are viewed as a “mini-conference” when comparing head-to-head results. The team with the best record vs. the other teams in the mini-conference gains the advantage. The team with the worst record vs. the other teams in the mini-conference is seeded the lowest.

a. If only two teams have the same best winning percentage in the mini-conference, the higher seed goes to the team winning the head-to-head series.

b. If the two teams split their two games, then proceed to Step 2 under Two-Team ties. To seed the remaining team(s) in this mini-conference, proceed to (e) below.

c. If three or more (but not all) teams have the same best winning percentage in the original mini-conference, then those tied teams create a new mini-conference and follow this same procedure beginning of Step 1 (Multiple Team Tie).

d. If all teams in the mini-conference have the same mini-conference record, proceed to Step 2 below.

2. Compare each team’s record vs. the team or group of tied teams occupying the highest position in the standings. If an advantage is not determined, proceed to the next team or group of tied teams in the standings for comparison. Continue down through the standings until one or more teams gains an advantage. If two teams have the exact same advantage (i.e., having the same and better record against a compared team relative to their mini-conference), they are separated at that point by the two-way tiebreaker procedure. The next step would take you back to Step 1 (e) (Multiple-Team Tie).

Scenario 1 - Marquette loses to Creighton

Seed: 7

Opponent: DePaul (unless DePaul upsets Xavier, I’m not even getting into that)

Odds: If Marquette loses on Saturday, they will need to win at least 3 games in the BE Tourney to jump back on the bubble. At that point, they would be in the Big East title game, so why not just win the whole damn thing to erase all doubt?

Scenario 2- Marquette beats Creighton, Seton Hall beats Butler

Seed: 7. MU would lose head to head tie breaker with Butler. If Providence also loses, MU is the lowest seed of the three teams due to worst record in that mini-conference.

Opponent: DePaul (unless...never mind, DePaul is not beating Xavier as they try to wrap up sole control of the Big East title)

Odds: (MU beats DePaul in Round 1, loses to Villanova in Round 2)

Last 4 In - 50.2% chance of making it
barttorvik.com

Scenario 3 - Marquette beats Creighton, Butler beats Seton Hall, Providence beats St. Johns

Standings: Providence 10-8; Butler 10-8; Creighton 10-8; MU 9-9; Seton Hall 9-9.

Seed: 6. MU wins head to head tie with Hall 2-0.

Opponent: Providence....stick with me here. PC, BU, & CU are all tied. In their mini-conference, they all have a 2-2 record. Based on multi-team tie Step 2, we take these teams records vs the top team in the conference. Providence is the only team with a win over Xavier. Even if Villanova overtakes Xavier for the 1 seed, PC, BU, and CU all went 1-1 vs. Nova, so it would go down to records vs. Xavier. PC’s win over Xavier gets them the 3 seed either way.

Odds: (MU beats Providence, loses to Xavier)

Last 4 In - 66.2% chance of getting in
barttorvik.com

Scenario 4 - Marquette beats Creighton, Butler beats Seton Hall, St. Johns beats Providence

Standings: Butler 10-8; Creighton 10-8; MU 9-9; Seton Hall 9-9; PC 9-9

Seed: 5 In the MU, Hall, PC mini-conference, MU is 3-1, Hall is 2-2, and PC is 1-3

Opponent: Creighton...CU and BU split their head to head. So, we go to records vs. teams at the top of the conference. Both teams are 0-2 vs. Xavier....next. Both teams are 1-1 vs. Nova...next. Now we go down to records vs. the mini-conference tied at 9-9. Creighton is 2-4 vs. this group, whereas Butler is 4-2. Butler gets the 3 seed, Creighton the 4 seed.

Odds: (beat Creighton, lose to Nova)

Clear of Dayton by 1 spot - 74.6% chance of making it in
barttorvik.com

As you can see, Scenario 4 provides Marquette the best chance of making it into the NCAA Tournament. However, beating Creighton twice in one week and three times in 20 days would be quite the difficult task.

So, what did we learn, class? Marquette needs to win on Saturday no matter what. How the other games play out can affect the quality of win Marquette would have the opportunity to get in their first game of the Big East Tournament. Saturday is the last Marquette game at the Bradley Center, and if it isn’t, that means they are hosting a NIT game there....*shudder*

Hopefully, they can send the BC off in style with a memorable win.

P.S. I really hope everything I just wrote is right and I didn’t waste a bunch of research time just to be wrong. Those tie-breakers are tricky!