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The Order of Things: C-USA Tournament Seeding Scenarios

With the 2011 C-USA Tournament now only a week away, it's finally time to take an extended look at the potential seeding scenarios.  Seeding matters.  For those of you who don't know, the top 4 teams in the league standings received a first round bye (link to C-USA tiebreaker rules).  

The C-USA Championship

The Contenders:  UAB*, UTEP, Tulsa

UAB has already clinched a share of the C-USA Championship with their win last night against Southern Miss.  If UAB wins their season ending clash at home against ECU, the Blazers have deservedly won the C-USA Regular Season Championship outright.  If UAB loses, which you know isn't completely out of the question considering this year in the C-USA, both UTEP and Tulsa will have a chance to earn a share of the title.  UTEP would have to beat SMU and Tulsa would have to beat Southern Miss.  So, there could be an outright champion, a two way split or a three team tie for first.


The One Seed

The Contenders:  UAB Blazers, Tulsa Golden Hurricane

While UTEP can earn a share of the C-USA Championship, the Miners cannot earn the #1 seed.  If UAB and UTEP end the season tied at 11-5, UAB would have the tiebeaker advantage with the head-to-head win.  If There is a three way tie, the conference looks at the three teams combined records against each other.   UAB is 1-1 against UTEP and Tulsa.  Tulsa is 2-1 against the others.  UTEP is 1-2 against them.  Which means if...

  • UAB Wins:  They win the C-USA Title and the #1 seed
  • UAB loses and only Tulsa Wins:  Shared title and Tulsa gets the #1 seed (head-to-head); UAB would be the #2 seed
  • UAB loses and only UTEP wins:  Shared title and UAB gets the #1 seed (head-to-head), UTEP gets the #2 seed
  • UAB loses and UTEP and Tulsa also win:  Tulsa gets the #1 seed, UAB gets the #2 seed, UTEP gets the #3 seed.  

Can UTEP do any worse than the #3 Seed?

Yes.  If UTEP loses, the Miners could easily find themselves in a two way, three way, or four way tie for second place in the C-USA standings.  

Scenario #1, The Four Way Tie for Second:  UTEP loses, USM beats Tulsa, and Memphis Beats Tulane  
If UTEP loses and Southern Miss. beats Tulsa and Memphis beats Tulane, you would be looking at a four way tie for second place.  We would compare the teams records to each other, so UTEP would be 2-2 against Memphis, Tulsa, and USM.   Tulsa would be 2-2 as well.  USM would be 2-2.  Memphis would be 2-2.  Can you believe that? 

If that happens, the next tiebreaker would be to compare each squad's record against the team atop the standings (UAB).  So, Memphis would be 2-0, Tulsa would be 1-0, USM would be 1-1, and UTEP would be 0-1. The result would be that Memphis gets the 2 seed, Tulsa gets the 3, USM gets the 4, and UTEP gets the 5 seed.

Again, for this to happen, UTEP and Tulsa would have to lose and Memphis would have to win against Tulane.  

Scenario #2, The Three Way Tie For 2nd:  UTEP Loses, Tulsa Loses, and Memphis Loses
This one gets tricky because there would be a three way tie for second place between UTEP, Southern Miss. and Tulsa.  UTEP is 1-2 against the field.  USM would be 2-0 against the field. and Tulsa would be 1-2 against the field. USM would get the #2 seed with the 2-0 record.  UTEP and TU would look to their records against UAB.  Since TU beat the Blazers, they would get the #3 seed.  UTEP would be #4.  This is by far the best case scenario for Southern Miss.

Scenario #3:  UTEP loses, Tulsa and Memphis Win
If UTEP loses, and Tulsa and Memphis both win, UTEP would finish tied with Memphis for third place.  With the head-to-head win, UTEP gets the #3 seed.  Easy.  

So, here I've given the best and the worst case scenarios for UTEP heading into Saturday.  I think it's only fitting that the Miners could still feasibly win a share of the title or not even get a first round bye.