—So what are the odds the Dutchmen finish 10th or 11th? Right now, they technically hold the 10th seed over William & Mary thanks to a higher RPI. The Dutchmen and the Fighting Bill Lawrences will likely decide who finishes 11th when they face each other for the only time this season Feb. 22.
But can the Dutchmen finish higher—and end up in that purgatory that is eighth or ninth, where a win on Friday means a quarterfinal game with the top seed 24 hours later?
My guess is the Dutchmen go 3-2 in their final five CAA games and finish 5-13. I’m still convinced the Dutchmen will beat one of the top teams in the league, which means I’m still convinced they’re going to do no worse than split on the road with George Mason and Drexel this week. Hi, Jerry Beach, Perpetual Optimist!
Even if the Dutchmen get swept this week, Delaware—which, as you no doubt remember, beat the Dutchmen by one point in Delaware in a game in which the Blue Hens never trailed—presents another potentially winnable game for Hofstra. I’m also assuming wins over William & Mary and UNC Wilmington, the latter in the Senior Day home finale (the Dutchmen haven’t lost a Senior Day game since 1995-96—MY senior year, for God’s sake).
—Would the Dutchmen lose by winning? Odds are a 5-13 finish would catapult the Dutchmen into a tie for ninth with James Madison—a tie the Dutchmen would win.
James Madison (3-10) has two games left against Towson, two games against Drexel and one against Georgia State. While there’s no telling what the unpredictable Dukes will do, let’s assume they sweep the Tigers and lose the other three. The Dutchmen and Dukes split the season series, but if the two teams end up tied at 5-13, the Dutchmen would almost surely win the second tiebreaker and the higher seed by having beaten a higher-seeded team than James Madison, whose five wins in this scenario would all come against teams finishing eighth or lower.
—However, all hope of finishing 10th is not lost if the Dutchmen finish 5-13. UNC Wilmington (5-8) could fall into a three-way logjam for the eighth through 10th seeds if it loses its final five games. And that’s certainly possible: The Seahawks are reeling, with seven losses in their last nine games and freshman starter K.K. Simmons suspended indefinitely. And their schedule is plenty challenging: UNC Wilmington hosts co-leaders George Mason and VCU and visits Delaware, Old Dominion and Hofstra down the stretch.
A three-way tie between the Dutchmen, James Madison and UNC Wilmington would be broken first by their composite records against each other. James Madison (2-1 with a win over UNC Wilmington) would take the eighth seed over the Dutchmen (2-2) and UNC Wilmington (1-2), at which point the two-way tiebreaker would be used to settle the Hofstra-UNC Wilmington deadlock.
The two teams split with each other under this scenario, but as long as the Dutchmen don’t beat Mason or Drexel, the Seahawks would almost certainly win the tiebreaker thanks to having more wins over teams ahead of them in the standings than the Dutchmen. While the Seahawks and Dutchmen would each have a win over Delaware, the Seahawks’ win over Northeastern would catapult them into ninth—and leave Hofstra in 10th, where it can quietly lurk before embarking upon the greatest comeback in CAA history.
There you go. Simple, right? And don’t worry. If the Dutchmen finish eighth or ninth—either because I miscalculated my tiebreaker scenarios or because they show blatant disregard for my late-night work by winning their way into the higher seed—well, then I will come up with reasons why those trail mix remnants are the tastiest ever.