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Unnecessarily Complicated SEC Tournament Seeding Primer

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...with 1 game remaining in the regular season. Is your favorite part of sports the frightening legalese in which their standings are determined? Then this is the article for you!

Walker Buehler, after spending hours on the interwebs trying to make heads or tails of this.
Walker Buehler, after spending hours on the interwebs trying to make heads or tails of this.
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

*Disclaimer: There is a non-0% chance I blacked out while poring through the endless permutations and got this completely wrong.  This should have been a Tom Stephenson article, really.

*Disclaimer #2: For the TL;DR crowd, we're currently #6 but will not necessarily stay there.

This morning, I innocently looked at the SEC conference standings to see if I could determine what seed we would be in Hoover.  This was my first mistake.

The search began simply enough, with a trip to the SEC sports website to check the conference standings.  Here's the rundown:

SEC East

South Carolina 19-9

Florida 18-9

Vanderbilt 17-12

Kentucky 14-15

Georgia 11-18

Mizzourah 9-20

THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED 8-21

SEC West

aTm 20-9

Mississippi State 20-9

LSU 18-10

Ole Miss 17-12

Alabama 15-14

Auburn 8-21

Arkansas 7-22

At First Glance...

Vanderbilt can neither move up nor down in the SEC East standings, and by virtue of finishing 3rd in the East should be the #5 or #6 seed in the SEC Tournament, right?  Not so fast...

Rule #1: The two division champions shall be automatically seeded number one and number two based on winning percentage in conference competition. The rest shall be seeded numbers three through 12 based on winning percentage without regard to division.

At Second Glance...

All right.  That shouldn't be too tough to figure out.  With 1 game remaining for nearly all teams (LSU and Florida will play two more in Baton Rouge today; 1 full game, and 1 weather-postponed resumed game that is 0-0 in the 3rd), this should all be pretty set in stone, right?  Not so fast... as I can't even figure out who will be the #1 team that way.

Going by standings only, two teams in the West (aTm and MSU) can theoretically finish at 21-9 with victories today.  If one wins and one loses, the team that wins will have the #1 seed and The South Cackalacky Game Penises will receive the #2 seed.

Except... I can't even say that with certainty, as Florida has 2 games remaining, so could theoretically leap the Penises for 1st in the East in three specific outcomes: 1) Win both, Penises lose. 2) Win both, Penises win (with tie-breakers). 3) Win 1, Penises lose (with tie-breakers).

Now if both aTm and MSU lose their games today (against Ole Miss and Arkansas, respectively), then then #1 seed could go to either South Carolina or Florida (depending on tie-breakers), or it could stay in the west with either aTm or MSU, or it could even go to LSU if they win both of today's games against Florida (depending on tie-breakers).

In other words, we have no idea who will win the East, or who will win the West, and we sure as shit have no idea which of those teams will be seeded #1 in the conference tournament.

Okay... But How Does This Affect Vanderbilt?

I'm getting there.  Let's start with the teams Vanderbilt could end up tied with.  We are currently 17-12 in the SEC, and would finish 18-12 if Kyle Wright does his thing and we sweep Auburn.  Lose, and we're 17-13.

LSU is 18-10 after beating UF last night, with 2 games on the docket today.  Provided they lose both and we beat the War Tigers, we'd be tied at 18-12.  One win for the Bayou Bengals today and this exercise is moot.

Ole Miss is 17-12 after losing the first 2 games of the series with aTm.  Reverse that momentum and win (and VU beats Auburn) and we're tied at 18-12.  Both lose and we're tied at 17-13.  One wins and one loses, and this exercise is moot.

Here's Where it Gets Fun

According to the rule book:

Ties will be broken in the following manner:

1. Two-Team Tie. The following procedure will be used in the following order until the tie is broken:

A. Won-lost results of head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.

B. If two-teams are divisional opponents:
(1) Won-lost percentage within their division (over the 18-game SEC division schedule).
(2) Won-lost percentage of the two teams versus the No. 1 team in their division (and proceeding through the No. 7 team, if necessary).

C. If two teams are not divisional opponents:
(1) Won-lost record of the two teams versus the No. 1 seed using common opponents only (and proceeding through the No. 12 seed, if necessary).
(2) Coin flip by the Commissioner

2. Three-Team Tie (or more). The following procedure will be used in the following order until the tie is broken: (Note: If the three tied teams have three different records against each other, they shall be seeded in best-percentage order.) Otherwise, once the tie has been reduced to two teams, the two-team tiebreaker procedure will be used.

A. If all three teams are common opponents: Total won-lost percentage of games played among the tied teams.

B. Won-lost percentage of the tied teams versus the No. 1 seed and proceeding through the No. 12 seed, if necessary, using common opponents only.

C. If three or more teams still are tied, the Commissioner will conduct a draw.

Got all of that?

No, So Why Don't You Explain it For Me

All right, let's break it down to all the possible VU, LSU, UM tie permutations and see what's what.

Scenario #1: LSU and Vanderbilt are tied at 18-12, Ole Miss finished 17-13.

I made this scenario #1 because it's the easiest to figure out.  This one comes down to a simple head-to-head matchup.  In our series in early April, LSU won 2 of 3, so they would be the #5 seed and we would be #6.  (*Note: Yes, I realize that LSU can still technically finish higher than the #5 seed, as if they sweep today's 2 games against Florida, they would finish 20-10, and depending on tie-breakers, they could be 1 of 4 SEC teams with that record, and 1 of 3 SEC West teams, so who the hell knows.)

Scenario #2: LSU wins at least 1 game today; Vanderbilt and Ole Miss are tied.

In this scenario, it wouldn't matter if we were tied at 18-12 or 17-13, so at least I don't have to account for that, and the tie-breaker would determine who is the #6 seed and who is the #7 seed. If you scroll up to the particulars of the tie-breaking rules, you will quickly realize that you are about to have to do some serious digging to figure this shit out.

Seeing as we have not faced off head-to-head this year, and are not divisional opponents, it will come down to:

(1) Won-lost record of the two teams versus the No. 1 seed using common opponents only (and proceeding through the No. 12 seed, if necessary).
(2) Coin flip by the Commissioner

In case you wondered why I spent so much time proving to you that we have no freaking clue who the #1 seed will currently be, this is why.  Let's run down the "common opponent win-loss record" of the 5 teams who could theoretically inhabit the #1 seed slot.

1. aTm: Vanderbilt went 1-2; Ole Miss is currently 0-2.  If both VU and Ole Miss win today, we'd have to go to the next common opponent sequentially (as we have no freaking clue who the #2 seed would be still).  If Ole Miss loses today, Vanderbilt would be the #6 seed.

2. MSU: Vanderbilt went 1-2; Ole Miss went 1-3 (as they played an additional mid-week game for some reason).  Vanderbilt would be the #6 seed.

3. SC: Vanderbilt went 2-1; Ole Miss went 0-3.  Vanderbilt would be the #6 seed.

4. UF: Vanderbilt went 1-2; Ole Miss DNP.  N/A.

5. LSU: Vanderbilt went 1-2; Ole Miss went 2-1.  Vanderbilt would be the #7 seed.

In short, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Scenario #3: LSU wins at least 1 game today; Vanderbilt wins; Ole Miss loses.

We're the #6 seed.

Scenario #4: LSU wins at least 1 game today; Vanderbilt loses; Ole Miss wins.

We're the #7 seed.

Scenario #5: LSU loses both games today; Vanderbilt wins; Ole Miss wins.

This is the "Fuck it, I'm waiting to see what all the other teams do to even guess" scenario, to be honest.  If you want to try to compare all three teams in terms of common opponents seeded #1-12 in consecutive order, be my guest.  If none of that breaks the tie, the Commisioner conducts some sort of draw.  In this scenario, ask Dikembe Mutombo, as he seems to know how the lottery will be rigged beforehand.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As for Auburn...

Mizzourah has clinched their spot (and no, I am not going to go into the long, drawn-out specifics of why), so it comes down to the War Tigers and The Chuggers for the final spot in the SEC Tournament.  THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED are currently up 2-0 on UGA in the top of the 3rd in today's game, so Auburn will likely know what they'll have to do to qualify before first pitch of our 2pm CT game (SECN+).  Or not.  The hell if I'm going to figure it out.  I need a beer.