Nothing is ever straightforward with Arch Madness seeding. Even with just one day of regular season games remaining, none of the 10 seeds are locked up.
Here are all the scenarios for how the bracket can shape up depending on Saturday’s results.
Elite at the top
We’ve known for a while now that Illinois State (16-1) and Wichita State (16-1) will be the top two seeds, but we still don’t know what order. There’s a chance we still won’t know until Sunday morning because RPI will be the tiebreaker if there is in fact a tie.
Entering Thursday, Illinois State is ranked No. 34 in RPI while Wichita State is No. 41.
Illinois State has the tougher game Saturday going to Northern Iowa. Wichita State doesn’t have it too easy either with a game at Missouri State, though.
Obviously if one team wins while the other loses, we don’t have to worry about the RPI tiebreaker.
The mess in the middle
—All Northern Iowa (9-8) has to do to clinch the No. 3 seed is win Saturday, but that’s a tough task with Illinois State coming to Cedar Falls. But even with a loss, the Panthers will be the No. 3 seed as long as Southern Illinois beats Loyola.
If Loyola (8-9) beats SIU (8-9) and Northern Iowa loses, the tiebreaker falls to RPI, where the Panthers have a slight advantage entering the weekend at No. 144 to Loyola’s No. 152.
—SIU is the No. 4 seed with a win over Loyola and the No. 5 seed with a loss.
—Loyola guarantees a top 4 seed with a win at SIU but would be the No. 5 seed with a loss. If the Ramblers beat the Salukis and Northern Iowa loses, they can climb to the No. 3 seed with some help from the RPI gods.
The mess at the bottom
—Missouri State (7-10) is the favorite to land the No. 6 seed and avoid Thursday’s play-in round, but the Bears could drop to the No. 7 if they lose to Wichita State and Bradley beats Drake. That would put Missouri State and Bradley at 7-11 with the season series split, and the Bears are ahead by 11 spots in the RPI.
—Bradley (6-11) can finish as high as 6th (explained above) and as low as 9th. With a win, the Braves would earn at least the No. 7 seed.
But if they lose, their seed will be determined by who wins the Indiana State-Evansville game as Bradley, Drake (5-12), and that matchup’s winner will all be tied at 6-12, which means the tiebreaker is determined by the three teams’ “round-robin” record against one another.
Bradley split with Drake and swept Evansville, Brian Wardle’s squad is rooting for the Aces. In that scenario, the Braves would retain the 7th seed with Drake at No. 8, Evansville at No. 9, and Indiana State at No. 10.
However, Bradley was swept by Indiana State. So if the Sycamores were to win, they would become the 7th seed with Drake at No. 8, Bradley at No. 9 and Evansville at No. 10.
—As explained above, the loser of the Indiana State-Evansville game will be the 10th seed if Drake beats Bradley. If Drake loses, things get more complicated.
The Bulldogs split with both Indiana State (5-12) and Evansville (5-12), and with by far the worst RPI in the Valley, they would become the 10th seed if they lose to Bradley.
So, if Drake loses, that means the winner of Indiana State-Evansville is the No. 8 seed while the loser is the No. 9, and they would rematch on Thursday night next week.
RPI numbers updated through results of Feb. 22