Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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Villanova's Big East logjam

If you have a lot of time on your hands, and possibly a full case of headache relief tablets at you side, then you may be inclined to figure out all the tiebreakers in play to figure out the Big East men's basketball standings.

Villanova's Big East logjam

Villanova is not guaranteed a Big East tournament bye even if they upset Pittsburgh Saturday. (Joe Raymond/AP)
Villanova is not guaranteed a Big East tournament bye even if they upset Pittsburgh Saturday. (Joe Raymond/AP)

If you have a lot of time on your hands, and possibly a full case of headache relief tablets at your side, then you may be inclined to figure out all the tiebreakers in play to figure out the Big East men's basketball standings.

When Wednesday night's play began, Villanova was all alone in 11th place in the 16-team league. When play had concluded for the night, the Wildcats had sprung up into a tie for ninth thanks to losses by Connecticut and Marquette.

So as we prepare for the final day of regular-season play on Saturday, there is a three-way tie for sixth at 10-7 -- Georgetown, Cincinnati and West Virginia -- and a three-way tie for ninth at 9-8 with 'Nova and its two rivals.

At the risk of my head spinning violently until it flies off toward the Ben Franklin Bridge, I will only concern myself right now with trying to figure out Villanova's position for next week's Big East tournament.

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One thing we do know -- if Villanova loses Saturday at Pittsburgh, it will play in Tuesday's first round as either the ninth, 10th or 11th seed. And even if the Wildcats can pull off the road upset, there is no guarantee they will get a first-round bye.

I tried going through one of those "if-the-season-ended-today" scenarios among 'Nova, UConn and Marquette and it still came up inconclusive.

According to Big East rules, the first tiebreaker in a three-way deadlock is to create a "mini-conference" among the three teams just counting their head-to-head records against each other.

Villanova lost to UConn and defeated Marquette, so the Cats would be 1-1. However, the Huskies and Golden Eagles played twice -- with each team winning once -- so UConn would be 2-1 and Marquette 1-2. But because 'Nova played one fewer game and wouldn't have a chance to match the Huskies' win total, this provision is thrown out.

Got that? Wait, it gets better.

The next tiebreaker is each team's record versus the team holding the highest position in the standings, and working your way down. The Wildcats lost to the top two teams, Pitt and Notre Dame, but defeated No. 3 Louisville. The Huskies lost to all three, giving 'Nova the advantage.

However, Marquette played two games with Notre Dame and split them. Does that give the Golden Eagles the tiebreaker, or does this get thrown out, too, because neither the Wildcats or UConn had a chance for a second game against the Irish?

We don't know. As this is written, the Big East hasn't responded to our e-mail seeking clarification.

Then again, there's always a coin flip if there is no winner from all the tiebreaking provisions. Sounds like a good idea.

Anyway, you can figure out your own tiebreaker scenarios. Take a look at Saturday's schedule:

Louisville at West Virginia, noon (ESPN)

Georgetown at Cincinnati, 2 p.m. (LiveWell)

Notre Dame at Connecticut (Gampel Pavilion), 2 p.m. (ESPN)

Villanova at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m. (CBS3)

DePaul at Syracuse, 4 p.m.

Marquette at Seton Hall, 6 p.m.

Rutgers at Providence, 7 p.m.

South Florida at St. John's (Carnesecca Arena), 8 p.m.

So have a go at it. We'll talk after Saturday's game although if the Big East comes out with anything regarding tiebreakers before then, we'll let you know.

--Joe Juliano

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Joe Juliano first visited the Palestra in 1970 after entering Temple University and became hooked for life on Big Five basketball. He'll always go with that name, figuring if the Big Ten can have 12 teams, why can't the Big Five have six?

Juliano joined the Inquirer in 1985 after 10 years at United Press International and has covered college sports for most of that time. His current beats are Villanova basketball, Penn State football, golf and the Penn Relays. Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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