Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Big Sky Conference race narrows to 4 and heats way up

Venky Jois, photo from goeags.com
The Big Sky Conference Race has narrowed down to 4 teams with Sacramento State currently at the top, but facing a daunting 3 game road stretch to close out the season.

Last week I wrote about the Eagles Magic Numbers to eliminate each team in the Big Sky.  Since then the Eagles split a tough road trip at Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  Click through below for the updates and current tie-breaker scenarios as best as I can work them out so far!


*Edited 4 way tie break scenario


Technically, Eastern Washington no longer has a true Magic number as they need help in order to win an outright Big Sky Conference title.  Still, it is a worthwhile exercise to consider where the Eagles stack up against the rest of the Big Sky.

First, the parameters:
  1. In order to host the tournament a team must win more conference games than any other team in the conference.  Each team plays 18 conference games this season.
  2. Tie Breakers: I (a). Head to Head  I (b). Group head to head if more than two teams are tied I (c). Each time a team is eliminated start over with remaining teams.
  3. Winning percentage against Conference teams in descending order of finish (basically how did the two teams fair against the 1st place team, then 2nd place etc until one is eliminated).
  4. Official RPI rankings 
  5. Finally it comes down to a coin flip.  
Now that we've done the boring stuff I will list each team in reverse order of current conference standing and provide all current information relative to the tie breaking procedures and how many games Eastern must win to eliminate that team's possibility of over taking the Eagles in the conference standings.  The Magic number is the number of combined Eastern wins and the other teams losses that will result in Eastern eliminating the chance of that team overtaking the Eagles.

Here is the Eagles first including my best understanding of the tie breaker scenarios:

Eastern Washington
The Eagles are currently 11-3 in Big Sky play.  Their current RPI is 74, so they own that advantage over every other team.  Only NAU owns the head to head tie breaker with them.  Sac State would win any two way tie breaker with Eastern since they have better win percentages over NAU and an equal 100% against Montana.  Three or more way tie breakers get much more complex, I believe that if Sac State, Montana and Eastern all end up tied then they would compare the winning percentage of each team against the other two.  Currently that would shake out like this: EWU 2-1 (66.7%), Montana 0-2 (0%) and Sac State 2-1 (66.7%).  This means that if Eastern, Sac State and Montana end up in a 3 way tie, then Sac State will win, unless they lose to NAU and Montana loses to Eastern, in this case Eastern (75%), Sac State (50%) and Montana (0%) would be tiered based on the common win percentage and I believe they would be ranked in that order, another possibility is that Montana is eliminated (ranked 3) and the two way tie is resolved between EWU and Sac State which Sac State wins.  The final possibility is that Eastern is given the win / tie break and then the two way tie between Montana and Sac State is broken, Sac State wins on strength of head to head win over Montana.  A 4-way tie would add NAU to the mix, they currently are 1-2 (33.3%), in order for them to end in a tie NAU would have to win at least 2 more games if Sac State and Montana lose out and EWU wins only the game against Montana.  In that case, EWU would finish 3-2 (60%), Montana would finish 0-4 (0%) and Sac State would either be 3-2 (60%) or 4-1 (80%) and NAU would either be 2-2 (50%) or 1-3 (25%) depending on the results of the last game.  Essentially any 4 way tie will go to Sac State.

Overall Magic number 5.

Eastern must get any combination of Eagle wins and Sac State losses to equal 5
Eastern must get any combination of Eagle wins and Montana losses to equal 5
Eastern must get any combination of Eagle wins and Northern Arizona losses to equal 4
Eastern must get any combination of Eagle wins and Portland State losses to equal 1
Eastern has eliminated all over contenders for the Conference title 


Idaho State
The Bengals are currently 3-12 in Big Sky play.  They are 0-1 against EWU with one game left against the Eagles.  The Bengals current RPI is 345.  The Bengals cannot catch the Eagles this season.  Magic number -1.

Montana State 
The Bobcats are currently 4-11 in Big Sky play.  They are 0-1 against EWU with one game left against the Eagles.  The Bobcats current RPI is 317.  The Bobcats cannot catch the Eagles this season.  Magic number -1.

North Dakota
North Dakota is currently 4-11 in Big Sky play.  They are 0-1 against EWU and will not play them again this season.  UND's current RPI is 276.  UND cannot catch the Eagles this season.  Magic number -1.

Southern Utah
The Thunderbirds are currently 5-9 in Big Sky play.  They are 0-1 against EWU and will not play them again this season.  SUU's current RPI is 313.  SUU cannot catch the Eagles this season.  Magic number -1.

Weber State
The Wildcats are currently 6-9 in Big Sky play.  They are 0-1 against EWU and have one more game to play against them this season.  WSU's current RPI is 262.  The Wildcats cannot catch the Eagles this season.  Magic number -1

Idaho
The Vandals are currently 6-8 in Big Sky play.  They are 0-2 against the Eagles this season and will not play them again.  UI's current RPI is 253.  The Vandals cannot catch the Eagles this season.  Magic number -1.

Northern Colorado
The Bears are currently 7-8 in Big Sky play.  They are 0-1 against the Eagles this season and will not play them again.  UNC's current RPI is 258.  The Bears cannot catch the Eagles this season .  Magic number -1.

Portland State
The Vikings are currently 8-7 in Big Sky play.  They are 1-1 against the Eagles this season and will not play them again.  PSU's current RPI is 224.  The Vikings must win out and Eastern must lose out for the teams to finish in a tie.  Currently Eastern would win the tie breaker with PSU based on a better winning percentage over Montana, Sac State and NAU.  PSU has one game each remaining with Sac State and NAU, but will not play Montana again.  Magic number 1.

Northern Arizona
The Lumberjacks are currently 10-4 in Big Sky play.  They are 1-0 against the Eagles this season and will not play them again.  NAU's current RPI is 184.  The Jacks must win one more game over its final four, to force a tie with Eastern.  They own the tie breaker on the strength of their head to head win over the Eagles.  Eastern can eliminate Northern Arizona from contention by winning out. Magic number 4.

Montana
The Griz are are currently 12-3 in Big Sky play.  They are 0-1 against EWU this season with one more game to play.  UM's current RPI is 173.  The Griz must finish one game ahead of Eastern as they lose all tie breakers with the Eagles.  Magic number 5.

Sacramento State
The Hornets are currently 12-3 in Big Sky play.  They are 1-1 against EWU this season and will not play them again this season.  CSUS current RPI is 144.  The Hornets control their own destiny to the Conference title as they own any two way tie breaker with Eastern or Montana, three and four way ties get more difficult and depend on the Montana at Eastern game and the Sac State at Northern Arizona game.  Magic number 5.



---
Please follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook: