Monday, February 18, 2013

Battle for the Fourth Bye: Two Weeks Left

So now things start to really get interesting. There are four teams within two games of the fourth bye spot with three or four SoCon games to play. Davidson has clinched the division. Elon can clinch the North on Thursday. College of Charleston is up three games on the team in the fifth spot, so the Cougars have all but put away a bye as well.

With three teams within one half game, and a fourth team sitting two games back, the fourth bye race is heating up. Let's look at the remaining SoCon schedule for all four of the teams- all the way until the end.

Feb 21 Elon
Feb 23 UNCG
Feb 28 at Appalachian State
Mar 2 at Western Carolina

Western Carolina
Feb 20 College of Charleston
Feb 28 Chattanooga
Mar 2 Samford

Appalachian State
Feb 20 The Citadel
Feb 28 Samford
Mar 2 Chattanooga

Feb 21 UNCG
Feb 23 Elon
Feb 28 at Western Carolina
Mar 2 at Appalachian State

So who has the schedule that puts them in the best situation? Samford and Chattanooga have identical schedules, but the Mocs really need help. They need Samford to lose two of their remaining four games, while the Mocs would have to win all four games. So advantage to Samford there in that schedule. Western Carolina and Appalachian State both have only home games remaining, and have two common opponents (Samford and Chattanooga). Western Carolina has to play College of Charleston, while Appalachian State has to play The Citadel. Edge: Appalachian State. Ranking the teams based on remaining schedule:

1) Appalachian State
2) Western Carolina
3) Samford
4) Chattanooga


Basically, if the Mocs win out and Western Carolina and Appalachian State both beat Samford and win out other than that, the teams would finish in a four way tie. The Mocs would be 5-1 against the three teams. Without knowing the updated tiebreaker procedures (I have an e-mail into the conference about it), I am assuming that would be the tiebreaker. This is probably the way that gives the Mocs the best chance at the bye with the least amount of help from the outside.

Samford will have to win both home games against Elon and UNCG, while going on the road and beating Western Carolina on the road. If they do that, then the worst they could do is tie Appalachian State, and (unless the tiebreaking procedure has changed) they would own the tiebreaker by virtue of Samford's win over College of Charleston.

Western Carolina's best chance to win out. Win out, and they would own the tiebreaker over Appalachian State (by virtue of their win over College of Charleston). That's the Catamounts best chance to get the division.

Appalachian State only has to win out and Western Carolina just needs to lose once. With the Catamounts playing three solid teams, this is a distinct possibility.

Basically, I think the favorite is probably Appalachian State. However, the Mountaineers have been the most inconsistent team in the SoCon this year, I think. Samford is my next choice.

Still, it is anyone's race. This should be very interesting. Very exciting race.

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