FanPost

Breaking Down The Pac 10's Final Weekend

This is a rather complicated breakdown of what could play out this final weekend. I figured it would be a concise primer, but apparently, there are far more variables than I thought so you may want to pass on reading this.

We're down to the final weekend of Pac 10 play and there are a lot of races still up in the air, from the #1 seed in the conference, to who has to play on Wednesday night at the Pac 10 Tournament. We're going to break the final weekend and see what we should be rooting for as Bruin fans and what will be going on in outside of the LA area.

First, let's take a look at the Pac 10 Tournament format:

Opening Round: Wednesday March 11
Game 1 No. 8 Seed vs. No. 9 Seed
Game 2 No. 7 Seed vs. No. 10 Seed
Quarterfinals: Thursday, March 12
Game 3 No. 4 Seed vs. No. 5 Seed
Game 4 No. 1 Seed vs. Winner Game 1
Game 5 No. 3 Seed vs. No. 6 Seed
Game 6 No. 2 Seed vs. Winner Game 2
Semifinals: Friday March 13
Game 7 Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4
Game 8 Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6
Championship: Saturday, March 14
Game 9 Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8

Obviously, there's a major disadvantage to being a bottom four seed and having to play on Wednesday night. Also, there are subtle advantages to some of the higher seeds. The top two seeds get to play teams who have played the night before. If the seeds win out, the #1 seed has an advantage in the final game because they got to play earlier in the day Friday and got more rest. They also don't get caught in the last game of the night on either night when the game can run very late.

Now let's take a look at the current Pac 10 standings:

TEAM CONF. W-L OVERALL W-L
Washington 13-4 22-7
UCLA 11-5 22-7
Arizona State 10-6 21-7
California 10-6 21-8
Arizona 8-8 18-11
Washington State 8-9 16-13
Oregon State 7-8 13-13
USC 7-9 16-12
Stanford 5-11 16-11
Oregon 1-14

7-20

So as we can see, Oregon is locked into the 10 spot, but outside of that it is up for grabs and odds are we're going to see a few tiebreakers, which are as follows.

Two team tie

  1. Head to head
  2. Record vs. the team occupying the highest position in the final regular standings and then continuing down until one team gains an advantage. If teams are tied for a position in the standings then it is the combined record versus the tied teams.

Multiple team tie

  1. Record between all the tied teams
  2. Record vs. the team occupying the highest position in the final regular standings and then continuing down until one team gains an advantage. If teams are tied for a position in the standings then it is the combined record versus the tied teams.

So with all the boring stuff out of the way, let's see what we have this weekend. The LA schools will visit the Oregon schools, with UCLA getting Oregon St. then Oregon and USC getting Oregon then Oregon St. The Bay Area schools take a trip the desert. On Thursday, Cal will be at Arizona and Stanford will be at Arizona St. On Saturday, the Bears visit the Sun Devils and the Cardinal visit the Wildcats. Saturday will also see Washington St. play in Seattle versus Washington.

We'll start at the top where the Huskies can clinch the Pac 10 title all alone with a win over Washington St. If the Cougars pull off the upset, UCLA will have an opening to share the Pac 10 regular season title and can do so with a sweep of the Oregon schools at Pauley. If the two schools end up tied, it will go to the second tiebreaker because they split their season series with each team winning at home. That tiebreaker will be which team has the better record versus Arizona St., Cal or both. If Arizona St. finishes third in the conference, Washington would win the tiebreaker and get the #1 seed in the conference tournament because they swept the Sun Devils, while UCLA was swept. If Cal finishes third in the conference, UCLA would get the #1 seed because they swept the Bears, while the Huskies were swept. If Cal and Arizona St. finish in a tie for third, it gets really complicated. Because both the Bruins and Huskies were 2-2 versus Cal and ASU, it would go to who has the best record versus the fifth place team(s) and that spot could go to Arizona, Washington St., Oregon St. or Cal.

If Washington beats Wazzu and UCLA sweeps the Oregon schools, the Bruins would be the #2 team in the conference. If the Bruins lose a game or two this weekend they'll drop into a tie with ASU or Cal. The Bruins would lose the tiebreaker versus Arizona St., but win it over Cal. If the Bruins lose both games this weekend and drop into a three way tie with Cal and ASU, it would get complicated. If Cal beats ASU on Saturday, all three teams would be 2-2 versus eachother and Cal would win the tiebreaker on the basis of their sweep of Washington. ASU would then win the tiebreaker over UCLA, giving the Sun Devils the #3 seed and UCLA the #4 seed. If ASU beats Cal then they would be 3-1 versus the tied team and get the #2 seed, while UCLA would be the #3 seed due to their sweep of Cal and the Bears would be the #4 seed.

UCLA and Arizona St. cannot drop below the #4 seed. UCLA can't get to the eight losses it would take to drop below that and ASU has the tiebreakers over Arizona and Oregon St. so even if they get swept this weekend, they'd win the tiebreakers. If Cal is swept in the desert this weekend and fall into a battle for the fourth seed, they'd lose the tiebreaker to Oregon St., while their tiebreaker status with Arizona is up in the air pending their gam versus the Wildcats on Thursday. Cal did win their first meeting. If there's a Arizona/Oregon St. tie Arizona would win the tiebreaker. If USC and Washington St. get involved, well I'm not even going to examine those possibilities because there are way too many possibilities. What we do know about USC is that if they sweep this weekend they'll avoid playing on Wednesday night, but one loss and they need to win four games at Staples.

So that's where we stand right now. Here are the bullet points from a UCLA perspective.

  • Go Cougars!- If the Bruins want a chance to tie for the regular season conference title, they need Washington St. to beat Washington on Saturday. 
  • Go Blue and Gold!- The other shade of blue in this case. If the Bruins end up tied with Washington, they need Cal to finish third in the conference to get the #1 seed. Also, if the Bruins drop a game this weekend and end up in a tie for second place, they need to be tied with Cal instead of ASU to get the #2 seed.

This wasn't the most concise or clear explanation of the upcoming weekend, but I didn't realize how complicated it could be until I looked into it all. All I know is the Bruins can't end up in too bad of a scenario if they take care of business this weekend.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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