LAFAYETTE — Chances are, the Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team will have a first-round bye in the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
But there’s a chance that, well, it comes down to chance. As in a 50/50 coin flip kind of chance. But a lot of things have to happen before the flip of a coin is used to decide a team’s seeding fate.
Heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale against Georgia Southern, the Ragin’ Cajuns have a one-game lead on the Eagles for the No. 4 seed, meaning a win Saturday would clinch at least a top-four seed in the tournament.
The Cajuns could possibly rise as high as No. 3 with a win and a Texas-Arlington loss, though that will depend on last-place Troy beating the Mavericks on their home court, where they are 12-2.
While the Cajuns are planning on taking care of business with a win, it could get interesting if they lose.
Here’s the scenario: An Eagles win would put both teams at 11-9 in SBC play and in a tie for fourth place. It would also mean the teams split the season series, negating the first tiebreaker of a head-to-head record.
The next tiebreaker is where things start to get tricky.
According to the Sun Belt’s tiebreaker procedures, it is decided by “each teams’ win-loss percentage (versus) the team occupying the highest position in the final regular-season standings, and then continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.”
Here’s the problem: The Eagles and Cajuns have identical records against the other top four teams in the league, and the final two spots could come down to a three-way tiebreaker.
This all depends on the matchup between South Alabama and Texas State. The Jaguars hold a one-game lead on both Texas State and Arkansas State for the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament.
In a scenario where the Cajuns lose to Georgia Southern, if the Jaguars beat Texas State, the Cajuns automatically win the tiebreaker for the No. 4 seed, because Georgia Southern went 0-2 against South Alabama and the Cajuns split against them.
But if South Alabama loses and Arkansas State beats Appalachian State, it would set up a three-way tie for the No. 7 seed among South Alabama, Arkansas State and Texas State.
Which brings us to our final scenario. If there’s a three-way tie among South Alabama, Arkansas State and Texas State, it will come down to the final tiebreaker: “The seeded position would be determined by a toss of the coin by the Sun Belt Conference commissioner.”
So, to break it down, for the Cajuns to miss out on a bye in the conference tournament, the following things need to happen: The Cajuns lose to Georgia Southern, South Alabama loses to Texas State, Arkansas State beats Appalachian State and the Cajuns come up on the wrong side of a coin flip.
There’s a chance the Cajuns are on the wrong side of chance, but it’s not likely.