Countdown to Clearwater: The New Math

The New Math May 19, 2011 So after a busy Thursday, with every BIG EAST baseball team in action, five spots left to be determined for the BIG EAST Championship and the postseason fate of several teams hanging in the balance, the only team to clinch a spot was ... West Virginia? But didn't they lose? It's strange how it works sometime. After Thursday's games, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville (the only team of the three to win Thursday) sit in a three-way tie for fourth place at 13-12 in conference play. So why can the Mountaineers book their travel to Clearwater, while the Bearcats and Cardinals have to wait? The short answer is that while all three have the same number of wins and losses, West Virginia has managed to both defeat and lose to the right teams. In the event of a tie in the standings, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head record. If it's a multiple-team tie, then you compare each team's record against the other tied teams. West Virginia has favorable records against any team it could possibly tie, except for Louisville, which took two of three from the Mountaineers earlier. But in order for West Virginia and Louisville to tie for the last spot in the standings, they would both have to lose their next two games, while USF would have to win its next two, which would forge a three-way tie . In that case, Louisville (4-2 against WVU/USF) and West Virginia (3-3) still make the cut, while USF would be out. Louisville and Cincinnati are both in good shape, but still haven't earned the coveted asterisk to indicate that they've clinched spots. Louisville could still finish in a three-way tie with Seton Hall and USF in the 7-8-9 spot, which would leave the Cardinals home. The Bearcats could finish in a straight two-way tie with USF in the 8-9 spot. Since those teams haven't played this season, the next tiebreaker is to compare each team's record against the group of teams higher in the standings. USF would be 9-12 in such a situation, while Cincinnati would be 6-12, giving the edge to the Bulls. That said, Cincinnati and Louisville - as well as Notre Dame - can pack their bags with a win in either of their remaining games. If USF loses either of its last two games, then the Bearcats, Cardinals and Irish are all in the field. The team that helped itself the most Thursday was Seton Hall, which rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the ninth against Georgetown to win 3-2 in 11 innings. The Pirates are now a game ahead of USF for the final spot and would clinch a spot with any combination of wins and/or USF losses totaling two. If you managed to follow all of that, we might have a position in the conference office waiting for you. Bring your calculator and some Advil. Anybody's Game May 18, 2011 We're only a week away from the start of the 2011 BIG EAST Baseball Championship in Clearwater, Fla. With just one weekend of regular-season play remaining, it's normally a chance for teams to improve their tournament seeds or a last chance for a team on the outside to play its way into the eight-team bracket. This year is a little different. With three games remaining for each team on the conference docket, only three teams - Connecticut, St. John's and Pittsburgh - have their tickets punched for Clearwater. That leaves seven teams left to battle for five spots in the tournament, with fourth place and ninth place separated by just two games in the standings. One of the things we're frequently asked to do here in the conference office is to present teams with their postseason scenarios. Rutgers, for example, is currently 10th in the standings, so the logical question is how the Scarlet Knights can reach the BIG EAST tournament field (answer: sweep West Virginia, and have Georgetown win at least two against Seton Hall, have Pittsburgh sweep USF and have Louisville win at least one against Notre Dame). But with seven teams still in the mix, and those seven teams having three games each on their schedules, it becomes a challenge to come up with all of the permutations.