It is seemingly a foregone conclusion that being the #1 seed in a tournament situation offers the easiest road to the championship. However, in the crazy world of college basketball where matchups tend to matter more than conference record, this may not always be the case. Regardless of the potholes that may or may not be on one side of the bracket or the other, I care more about the prestige that the #1 next to the Louisville name carries throughout the tournament. That being said, and with only four games remaining on the regular season schedule and a huge win against the Bearcats over the weekend, I began to wonder what it would take for Louisville to attain that lofty title in THE American Athletic Conference. So, I went about looking into it.
Here are some of the scenarios that would lead to Louisville being the #1 seed in the AAC Tournament:
Louisville wins out. Conference Record (CR): 16 - 2
Cincinnati slips up in one of its remaining three games. CR: 15 - 3
Louisville and Cincinnati both win out and they both end with a CR of 16 - 2.
According to the AAC bylaws, the tiebreaker is determined by games played between the two teams. However, in this case, Louisville and Cincinnati split their two games between one another.
The second tiebreaker is determined by the record of the next best team in the conference and continuing in descending order until one team gains an advantage over the other. This is where things get muddy.
This scenario comes down to which team (SMU, Memphis, or UConn) ends the season in third place.
SMU beats UCF this Saturday, loses to Louisville, and then beats Memphis on the road. CR: 13 - 5
Memphis beats Houston and then loses its last three games to SMU, UL, & UC. CR: 11 - 7
UConn loses two games to UL & UC but beats Rutgers. CR: 11 - 7
Conclusion: SMU ends the season third. UL record against SMU: 2 - 0. UC record against SMU: 1 -1.
UL gets the #1 seed.
SMU beats UCF, loses to Louisville and Memphis. CR: 12 - 6
Memphis beats Houston and SMU, but loses to UL & UC. CR: 12 - 6
UConn has same record as above. CR: 11 - 7.
Conclusion: SMU & Memphis end up tied for #3 and their record against one another is 1 - 1. The tiebreaker would go to their record against UConn. SMU vs. UConn: 2 - 0. Memphis vs UConn: 0 -2.
SMU gets #3 seed. Louisville gets #1 seed.
SMU loses all three of its remaining games. CR: 11 - 7
Memphis has same record as above. CR: 12 - 6
UConn same. CR: 11 - 7
Conclusion: Memphis gets #3 seed. UL record vs. Memphis: 1 - 1. UC vs. Memphis: 2 - 0
Cincy gets #1 seed.
SMU same as above. CR: 11 - 7
Memphis loses to Houston, UL & UC, beats SMU. CR: 11 - 7
UConn same. CR: 11 - 7
Conclusion: These three teams are considered a mini-conference and their records against one another within the conference stand as the tiebreaker.
SMU mini-conference record: 3 -1
Memphis: 1 - 3
UConn: 2 -2
SMU gets #3 seed. UL gets #1 seed.
UL drops one of its remaining games. CR: 15 - 3
UC also drops another game. CR: 15 - 3
They end up tied again and the tiebreaker scenario starts again. Any scenario where SMU is the #3 seed, UL gets the #1 seed, but if Memphis is the #3 seed, Cincy gets the #1 seed. The only exception is if Cincy loses to Memphis and UL beats Memphis, both teams have a 1 - 1 record against Memphis and the records against SMU would be the tiebreaker, in which case UL would get the #1 seed.
The win over UC was huge, but the win over Memphis will ultimately prove to be the deciding factor in the AAC Tournament seeding.