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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Razorbacks are Mathematically Eliminated From the SEC West Race (I Think, Anyway)

As I was sitting at my desk during a slow Wednesday, I started thinking about if the Hogs won out, would they still have a chance to go to Atlanta. After researching the tiebreakers, I think the LSU-Bama result from last weekend caused the Razorbacks to be mathematically eliminated from the West race.

Flow it out, with me, if you will...(warning, this exercise involves high-level mathematics and an understanding of SEC divisional tiebreakers, both of which are more complicated than nuclear physics...)

Right now, the standings are (with games left to play):

LSU 5-1 at Ole Miss, Ark
Auburn 4-2 at UGA, Bama
Bama 4-2 at MSST, at AU
Ark 2-3 at TN, MSST, at LSU
MSST 2-3 Bama, at Ark, Ole Miss
Ole Miss 0-6 LSU, MSST

Clearly, LSU is in the driver's seat, so this is probably moot. However, assuming the unthinkable happens and LSU loses to winless Ole Miss and to the Hogs at home, Auburn and Bama go 1-1 in remaining SEC games, and Arkansas wins out, the four teams would be tied at 5-3 in the league. Here are the SEC tiebreaker rules for three or more way ties in a division:

    (Once the tie has been reduced to two teams, go to the two-team tie-breaker format.)

  • Combined head-to-head record among the tied teams.

  • Record of the tied teams within the division.

  • Head-to-head competition vs. the team within the division with the best overall (divisional and non-divisional) Conference record and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken from first to last.

  • Overall record vs. non-division teams.

  • Combined record vs. all common non-divisional teams.

  • Record vs. common non-divisional team with the best overall Conference (divisional and non-divisional) record and proceeding through other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish within their division.

  • The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the last weekend of regular-season games shall be the divisional representative in the SEC Championship Game, unless the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the SEC Championship Game.

1. Head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.

So, we have a four way tie. The first three way tiebreaker is "round-robin" record against the tied teams. In the scenario above, LSU would be 2-1, having already beaten Auburn and Bama, Arkansas would be 1-2, having already lost to Auburn and Bama, and either Auburn or Bama would be 2-1 depending on the outcome of their head-to-head.

Then, it would simply be a two-way tie between LSU and either Auburn or Bama, and head to head wins--LSU comes out ahead already having beaten both teams. LSU WINS.

Where it gets kind of interesting is if LSU loses out, Ark wins out, and either Bama or Auburn loses out. Then its a 3-way tie between LSU, Ark, and either Bama or Auburn.

1. Round-robin doesn't help-all 3 tied teams would be 1-1 against the others.
2. Division records would be 3-2 for all 3 teams
3. Here's where it gets really frickin' nutty. The third tie breaker is Head-to Head against divisional team with best conference record after the tied teams. That team would be either Bama or Auburn, at 4-4. LSU would be 1-0, AU/Bama would be 1-0, and Ark would be out having lost to both.
4. Then it reverts to the two team tie breaker, and LSU wins against either AU/Bama. LSU WINS.

So, yes, Arkansas is mathematically eliminated from the West race. But it sure took more cipherin' to get there than I thought it would.

Other interesting points:

LSU holds mucho tiebreakers after beating Bama. Any tie goes LSU's way. The ONLY way LSU doesn't end up in ATL is if it loses out (finishing 5-3) and either AU or Bama wins out to finish 6-2.

The 10-peso version: if LSU beats Ole Miss this weekend, they win the West.

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