Good news, UConn fans. Thanks to Villanova's loss to Notre Dame last night, all UConn needs to do to clinch a bye into the second round of the Big East Tournament is beat West Virginia tonight.
As of right now, the Big East standings look like this:
6. Georgetown 10-7
7. UConn 9-7
8. Marquette 9-7
9. West Virginia 9-7
10. Cincinnati 9-7
11. Villanova 9-8
Since UConn is matched up against the Mountaineers tomorrow night, a win helps the Huskies a lot. But the Cincinnati-Marquette matchup that is also tomorrow means just as much. Hit the jump for a breakdown, as well as a look even further into UConn's Big East future.
A UConn win over the Mountaineers would boost them to 10-7, meaning their worst possible finish would be 10-8. In this scenario WVU could, at best, finish 10-8 and since UConn holds tiebreakers over both, they'd be in good shape. Since they also hold a tiebreaker over Cincinnati, and a Marquette win would guarantee the best the Bearcats could finish is 10-8, a win for the Golden Eagles means UConn will be locked into at least the 8 seed. (There are some crazy scenarios where four or five teams finish 10-8 in the league. In those cases the tied teams are thrown in a mini-conference and in all of those scenarios UConn earns a bye).
Things get even more interesting if Cincinnati wins because their final game is against Georgetown. That would mean one of Cincy and Georgetown teams would have to finish 11-7. In that scenario, UConn, even if they lose to Notre Dame and finish 10-8, would almost certainly be guaranteed the 7 seed in the conference.
The thing to keep in mind is this: with a UConn win tomorrow, they'll hold almost every tiebreaker that matters. In fact, the only team that would have a tiebreaker over them would be Marquette, and that only comes into play if the Golden Eagles and Huskies are the only two teams who are tied. In the vast majority of "mini-conference" scenarios, UConn jumps Marquette.
By the way, if you really want to get optimistic and look ahead to see what position the Huskies should be angling for, the smart money at the moment is the 7 seed. Pitt is probably going to be the 1 seed in the conference, meaning they'd match up against the 8 seed in the quarterfinals. We do not want that. At the same time, Louisville (my most-feared team) is all but locked in to the 3 seed, so they'd get the 6 for the quarters. Grabbing the 7 seed would let UConn avoid both until at least the semis.
Now there is a lot of blind predicting in this post, so if you only take one thing from it let it be this key fact: If UConn wins tonight they get a bye, no matter what else happens.
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