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What Happens If Everyone Ties?

The Big East could end in a four-way tie. So what happen

The top of the Big East is as competitive as it has ever been. With one month until the conference takes over Madison Square Garden, four teams are in a tight battle for the Big East crown.

Marquette, Xavier, Providence, and Creighton all have three or fewer losses. All are ranked. All are in the top 30 on KenPom and the top 40 of the NET.

According to KenPom, Marquette, Providence, and Creighton are favored in all but one of their remaining games. Xavier is favored in all but two. Should those games all go as expected, it would set up a four-way tie atop the conference.

First, let's break down what would need to happen for each of these teams to meet those expectations.

Let's start with Providence and Creighton, the teams in action tonight. The Bluejays have a tough schedule remaining, needing wins at Seton Hall and Villanova. If they can pull those off, they can handle a loss at Providence by winning home games against UConn and Marquette and finishing sweeps against St. John's, Georgetown, and DePaul.

The Friars also have to beat Seton Hall and Villanova, but those games happen in Providence. The team also hosts Xavier and Creighton over the next month and would need to beat both. Outside of that, Ed Cooley gets Georgetown twice and St. John's at Madison Square Garden and can lose a game at UConn and still end up in the tie at the top.

Xavier's path starts this Friday at Butler. The Musketeers need to pick up two wins against the Bulldogs, home wins against DePaul and Villanova, and a road win at Seton Hall to reach 16 Big East wins. In this scenario, they lose at Marquette next week and at Providence at the beginning of March.

Lastly, Marquette needs that home win over Xavier plus victories over Georgetown, DePaul, Butler, and St. John's. They lose at Creighton on February 21st.

In short, these teams need to defend their home floors while beating teams outside the top-50 on the road. Easier said than done, for sure, but absolutely doable.

This would leave all four teams at 16-4 in Big East play. So how would they decide the top four seeds at the Big East Tournament?

According to the conference's tie-breaking procedures, the four teams would be treated as their own "mini-conference" first. Since all four would have a 3-3 record in the group, this doesn't help.

The next step is to work down the standings from top to bottom, comparing how each of the four at the top did against each team until there is a difference in record. This is where we start to figure things out.

Assuming UConn finishes ahead of DePaul in the standings, this is the first team against whom the top four have differing records. Xavier swept the Huskies, while the other three would have split the series. That gives Xavier the No. 1 seed and leaves the remaining three seeds vying for second.

Those three would all have the same conference record, same record against one another, and same record against each team outside of the group. That leaves only one remaining procedure.

A coin flip.

After twenty conference games each and months of basketball, the Big East Tournament would come down to a coin flip.

How exactly this would work between three teams is unsure. But Commissioner Val Ackerman, or her designee, would handle the coin flip in a session open to both the media and the athletic departments of the three teams. This would happen immediately after the last regular season game and at the Big East offices in New York.

The big winner in all of this is Xavier. The Musketeers can lose two games down the stretch and still end up at the top if everything else goes to plan.

It also stresses the importance of each team's games against UConn and Seton Hall. How a team fares against those opponents could end up being the tiebreaker next month. Should the Friars beat UConn on the road, for example, and lose to Georgetown or St. John's instead, they would be guaranteed a top-two seed at the Garden.

Is it likely that things play out this way? No. A lot would need to happen, and asking four separate college basketball teams to play exactly as expected for a month against tough competition is a lot. But it is totally possible, and it could absolutely happen with two or three of these teams instead of all four. And what would Big East basketball be without a little bit of chaos?


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