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Crazy, arbitrary Big East tiebreakers reward UConn with nine seed in Big East Tournament

Jim Calhoun is back and taking his Huskies to a familiar place: the 9/16 game in the Big East tournament.
Jim Calhoun is back and taking his Huskies to a familiar place: the 9/16 game in the Big East tournament.

It seemed incredibly improbable earlier in the day, but after a remarkable series of breaks UConn will be the nine seed in the Big East tournament. That means the Huskies will face 16 seed DePaul at noon on Tuesday, with the winner taking on West Virginia and the winner of that slotted to play Syracuse. That seems like a much more favorable lineup for UConn than its alternative, which included Providence, Louisville and Marquette, all teams that had defeated the Huskies.

Oh, and of course UConn was the nine seed facing DePaul last year and that worked out pretty well. Of course, that's unlikely to repeat itself, in part because DePaul actually looked like a decent team tonight.

Yes, you read that right -- DePaul looked good, obliterating Seton Hall 86-58 and becoming one of many teams that helped UConn avoid the 10 seed. Other teams that deserve thank you notes are Marquette for beating Georgetown, Cincinnati defeating Villanova and finally Rutgers, who won an absolutely dreadful game over St. John's.

So how did the Huskies get here? Let's give this a shot:

  • Seton Hall's loss moved the Huskies into a tie for 9th with the Pirates. Both finished 8-10 in the conference.
  • Since they split their regular season series, the conference tiebreaking procedures meant that their record against the best team in the conference would decide seeding. If their records were equal (or if no team could gain a decisive advantage with an unequal amount of games) then we move down the list to the next team.
  • Both teams lost to Syracuse.
  • Both teams lost to Marquette.
  • Georgetown, South Florida and Cincinnati all finished 12-6. Both teams finished 1-2 against those teams.
  • Both teams lost to Louisville.
  • Both teams beat West Virginia.
  • Rutgers and St. John's tied at 6-12. UConn went 1-1 against those teams and Seton Hall went 2-1. Since the Huskies could have matched Seton Hall's record with another game, we don't stop there.
  • Finally, we get to Pittsburgh and Villanova, who went 5-13. UConn went 2-0 against those teams and Seton Hall went 1-1. The tie is finally broken.

Simple, right?