Dissecting Iowa State’s Big 12 Tournament seeding situation

After Saturday night’s 80-73 loss to Kansas State, Iowa State’s Big 12 record dropped to 10-6. A win would have bolted the Cyclones to sole possession of second place going into the final week of the regular season. The loss put Iowa State into a four-way tie in the league’s standings with Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Check out the current league standings here.

Kansas, 13-3
Iowa State, 10-6
Oklahoma, 10-6
Texas, 10-6
Kansas State, 10-6
West Virginia, 8-8
Baylor, 7-9
Oklahoma State, 7-9           
Texas Tech, 5-11
TCU, 0-16

According to my Twitter feed over the last 24 hours, you all are curious about the current tiebreaker situation. Granted, there is still a lot of basketball left to be played and the chances of a four-way tie at the end of next Saturday are slim but for the sake of entertainment and education, let’s take a look at where Iowa State sits when it comes to tiebreakers and the teams surrounding it in the Big 12’s standings.

Destiny almost controlled

The Cyclones have a road date with Baylor and a home contest with Oklahoma State looming this week. To make things simple, if Iowa State goes 2-0 in those games, there is a strong (but not certain) chance that the Cyclones will be off of the 4-5 line during the Big 12 Tournament. 

One major variable however is Monday night’s Kansas State @ Oklahoma State contest (8 p.m. on ESPN). If the Wildcats (who are 2-6 on the road in league play wins over Texas Tech and TCU) win that game along with Saturday’s date with Baylor, they would boot Iowa State out of that situatio. (That is assuming that Oklahoma beats West Virginia (at home) and TCU (on the road) in the coming days.)

On Big Monday, Iowa State fans need to be wearing their Cowboy orange.  

*** CLICK HERE to read the Big 12’s complete tiebreaker rules ***

If Iowa State splits…

…This is where things get slippery.

Per the Big 12’s tiebreaker rules (between two teams), it begins with the results of “head-to-head” competition during the regular season. Iowa State split its games with all three teams that it is currently tied with, so that will not come into play.

Next up for the Big 12’s tiebreaker (between two teams) is each team’s “record vs. the team occupying the highest position in the final regular-season standings, and continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.”

This two-team tiebreaker scenario is where Iowa State is in bad shape. Kansas State and Texas each have wins over Kansas this season, while the Cyclones do not. Oklahoma however was also swept by Kansas this season but when you trickle down the league standings, the Sooners beat Texas twice and that would ultimately give them the tiebreaker over Iowa State.

However though, the chances of only a two-team tie seem fairly slim in my mind. Iowa State is in better shape when it comes to the league’s multiple team tiebreaker, which basically pools the teams tied into round-robin (you go with records from there). I’ll get to this in a moment…

Let’s say that at the end of this week, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas are all 12-6 in the league (this goes back to not fully controlling its own destiny). According to the league’s multiple team tiebreaker, Iowa State would be the 4-seed and play Texas in the first round of the tournament. 

The league’s official rule on breaking a multiple team tie is: Results of collective head-to-head competition during the regular season among the tied teams (mini round-robin).
If more than two teams are still tied, each of the tied team’s record vs. the team occupying the highest position in the final regular season standings, and then continuing down through the standings, eliminating tied teams with inferior records until one team gains an advantage.When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tie-breaking procedure), rather than the performance against individual tied teams.

I know. It’s confusing. Do what I did and play around on the legendary mred bracket generator by CLICKING HERE.


I went ahead and made my predictions for this week’s games. I have Iowa State splitting its final two (losing to Baylor). In one other game of note, I have Texas Tech beating Texas next Saturday in Lubbock.

Based off of my predictions, Iowa State will be the 5-seed in the 2014 Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament via a three-way tie with Kansas State and Texas. Iowa State would lose that tiebreaker and play Texas (the 4-seed) at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. If Iowa State splits and Texas wins out (assuming Oklahoma goes 2-0 and Kansas State goes 1-1), Iowa State would play Kansas State in the 4-5 game.

Again though, it is important to stress one thing here. If Iowa State goes 2-0 this week, there is a pretty good chance that the Cyclones will avoid that 4-5 game. Monday’s Kansas State/Oklahoma State game should tell us a lot.