The Race For New York

WVU has a short lead in the race to make it to the "Gahh-den" for the Big East Tournament, but it's not going to be an easy road.

Rutgers and Georgetown are battling with WVU to be the final two teams from the West division of the Big East to make it to the Big East Tournament, and although the Mountaineers have the advantage over both teams at the moment, the race is far from over.

Currently, the standings look like this:

WVU       4-7 RU 2-0; GT 0-1     2-6


      3-7 GT 2-0; WV 0-2     2-6
Georgetown       3-8 RU 1-1; WV 1-0     2-7

WVU has the leg up on Rutgers with the season sweep, which is the first tiebreaker for a tournament trip if both teams finish with the same record. So, even if the Knights beat UConn on Wednesday evening, the Mountaineers will still be ahead of them for tournament purposes.

The second tiebreaker, which would come into play if the final spot comes down to WVU and Georgetown, is even tighter. The second tiebreaker is record against teams in your own division, and all three schools have two wins in the West.

The third tiebreaker, should the division record not break the deadlock, is to look at the record against the team that finished first in the West, then second, and so on until the tie is broken. Rutgers owns a win over Syracuse, while Georgetown has wins over WVU and Rutgers, and the Mountaineers just a pair over the Knights. The Rutgers win over Syracuse would help them in a possible tie with Georgetown, but would not come into play against WVU, since West Virginia won the head to head series with the Knights.

There's also the possibility of a three way tie among the squads, in which case the combined record against the other two schools is used as the first tiebreaker. Should that happen, Rutgers would be the odd school out, as they have finished with a 1-3 record against the Mountaineers and Hoyas. WVU and Georgetown can finish no worse than 2-2 in combined records in the event of such a tie, no matter what the outcome of their March 5 contest.

Now let's look at the remaining schedule. WVU controls their own destiny, with two games against Seton Hall and single games at Syracuse and at home against Georgetown and Virginia Tech.

Rutgers has games remaining at UConn, at Pitt, at St. John's and at Syracuse, and home games with Seton Hall and Notre Dame. That schedule looks slightly tougher than WVU's.

Georgetown has the road trip to West Virginia in addition to another at Miami, and home games with Providence, Syracuse and Notre Dame.

Should WVU get at least two more wins, they might be difficult to catch. That would give West Virginia a 6-10 conference mark, meaning Rutgers would have to go 4-2 in their last six to pass WVU in league record. (Remember that simply tying the Mountaineers does no good, due to WVU owning the first tiebreaker against Rutgers.)

Georgetown, which trails WVU by a game, has a bit easier road. The Hoyas should be favored over Miami and Providence, and will be no worse than even money at WVU. They get their two toughest remaining games at home, which doesn't hurt either. So, what's going to happen? With the way this Big East season has gone so far this year. it's anyone's guess. And we don't want to jinx the Mountaineers' chances by predicting a Big apple trip juse yet. However, if WVU can continue to play with the poise they have shown so far this year, we wouldn't bet against them either.

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