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The game ball sits on the sideline during a game against Western Michigan in the Convocation Center on Jan 19, 2016.

Men's Basketball: Conference cluster in the MAC

It's time to break out the calculators and lower your glasses to the bridge of your nose.

There's chaos in the Mid-American Conference. 

Akron has already clinched the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament next week. Miami will be the No. 12 seed in the tournament. That much is known. What isn't known, however, is literally everything else. 

Five teams are tied for second in the conference at 10-7 in conference play, including Ohio. Following the Bobcats are Buffalo, Western Michigan, Kent State and Ball State. 

The reason this matters is Nos. 1-4 get a bye straight to Cleveland to play Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Nos. 5-8 host a campus site game Monday, while Nos. 9-12 have to hit the road. Winners of the campus site games will head to Cleveland to meet up with the first four seeds.

OK. Now for the match-ups: 

Ohio plays Miami. Buffalo plays Bowling Green. Western Michigan plays Central Michigan. Kent State plays Akron. Ball State plays Akron. 

Since no one at 10-7 plays each other, there's still a chance all five teams will remain tied as the regular season ends. If that were to occur, the conference will head to tiebreakers. 

Because there are multiple teams, the tiebreaker will go to "tie-breaker E," meaning win/loss record, or win percentage. The tiebreakers can be found here.

Ohio currently holds that tiebreaker over every other team in the conference, hence the reason Ohio is No. 2 still. However, once the tiebreaker gets down to two teams, it reverts back to "tie-breaker A," which is head-to-head match-ups. That's easy enough. 

For example, Ohio beat Ball State 79-77. So Ohio would own that tiebreaker, were it to come down to those two teams for a spot. 

However, Ohio split with Buffalo this year. Meaning, that tiebreaker would go to C, (B is only decided for deciding divisional champs). Tie-breaker C is winning percentage versus ranked conference teams. 

That can't be figured out just yet, that'll have to wait until Friday evening. And for what it's worth, tie-breaker D is a coin flip. 

So the second seed isn't decided yet, which is an incredibly scary thought for the Bobcats. They've twice had chances to punch their ticket straight to Cleveland. And the final game of the season, the fallback game against the conference's worst team, looks tougher than originally thought. Miami just beat Akron 79-75.

But outside of the top six teams, there remains drama in the middle of the conference. Toledo sits at 8-9 in the conference and can't get any higher than its current seventh position. Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green and Northern Illinois trail by just one game at 7-10. 

This is arguably just as fascinating as the race for Cleveland at the top; the seventh and eighth seed host a home campus site game. The ninth and 10th seeds hit the road.   

Whatever happens Friday night, it's sure to be one of the more exciting final days in recent years. It'll also probably give you a headache. 


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