After losing their game on Saturday to Hope 98-90, the men’s basketball team has ruled out any chance of winning the regular season. The next two games that the team plays, however, could still determine their standing, and perhaps their outcome in the MIAA conference tournament as well.
As it stands, the Brits are now in fourth place with a record of 7-5, with Hope and Calvin Colleges leading the conference with a tied record of 10-2. With the remaining two scheduled games, Hope or Calvin are the only two teams with a feasible chance of winning the conference title, so they both will likely receive top seeds in the tournament. What will be the biggest battle over the last two games will be the fight for the third through fifth place positions.
Adrian College currently sits one game ahead of the Brits in third place with a record of 8-4, and Olivet College rests one game behind the Brits with a record of 6-6. The resolution could pan out in several ways, including a three-way tie between the teams for third place.
Albion’s main focus will be on gaining the opportunity for an outright third place if Adrian optimistically loses to Hope on Wednesday. If the Britons can pull off a win against Calvin at home on Wednesday, who they previously lost to 80-70 on Calvin’s court, it would set up a match-up between the Brits and Bulldogs on Saturday for third place.
Gaining the third place position in the tournament would result in a strategic advantage for the Britons. With that position, they will likely play against sixth-ranked Kalamazoo College in the first round, who they have beat by an average of 17 points during both of their match-ups in the regular season.
If the Brits end in fourth or fifth place, however, it would result in a match-up against Olivet. Albion has both won and lost against Olivet for the regular season, and if the team were to come off a loss to Adrian to put them in that position, it would be hard to build up momentum into the tournament to make a run for the title. Results from prior years show that when a team stumbles at the end of the season, they fall early in the tournament.
In an eight team bracket, it is a long shot for a third-ranked team to enter the tournament and win. But if the Britons are able to defeat both the Knights and the Bulldogs, their postseason attitude will change tremendously, putting them in a better position f to end their year as MIAA tournament champions.