Are You, as a Temple Fan, Obligated to Root for the Buffalo Bulls?

Are You, as a Temple Fan, Obligated to Root for the Buffalo Bulls?

We'll find out this evening.

Though the outcome of tonight's MAC showdown between the Ohio Bobcats and Bowling Green Falcons has zero effect in determining whether Temple will or will not win the MAC East, it will have an impact on the ways in which the team can or cannot reach the MAC Championship game.

Regardless of what's in store for the Bobcats and Falcons, Temple will need Miami (OH) to beat Ohio U next weekend, in order to have any shot at winning the East. What tonight will determine is just how many other games and teams need to go and work in Temple's favor.

Oh, and we should add that a Miami (OH) loss tonight combined with an Ohio win negates any chance the Owls have of winning the East. So, uh, other than that, here's what we're looking at...

Starting with the more "direct" of the two scenarios, an Ohio loss tonight would move the Bobcats to 4-3 in conference. Another loss to the Miami (OH) Redhawks next week, would drop them to 4-4. In the event Temple wins its only remaining MAC game—a Black Friday meeting with Kent State—the Owls would finish 5-3 and either tie Miami (OH) for the division lead or win the East outright. In the event both teams would finish 5-3, Temple would be on its way to the championship game in Detroit as a result of its head-to-head victory over Miami.

The other scenario would see Temple relying on the not-so-reliable Buffalo Bulls. Should Ohio beat Bowling Green this evening, and lose to Miami next week, there would be a three-way tie atop the division between the Owls, Bobcats and Redhawks (Note: this assumes Miami takes of their own business against Western Michigan tonight). In the event all three finish 5-3, the Owls will need Buffalo to finish ahead of Bowling Green in the MAC East Standings.

Why? Because, believe it or not, the Ohio Bobcats lost to Buffalo 38-37 on October 8.

As the MAC tiebreak rules first consider head-to-head records between the tied teams, all three would remain deadlocked at 1-1. The next tiebreak examines the head-to-head records of the tied teams against the rest of their division opponents in rank order.

Since all three teams have beaten or will have beaten Kent State, the tiebreak would move on to the next team on the list. All three teams have also beaten the Akron Zips, so they bear no difference here. The two teams that would decide tiebreak number two are the Buffalo Bulls and the Bowling Green Falcons. Given Temple's loss and Ohio and Miami (OH)'s victories over Bowling Green, the Owls would be eliminated from the tiebreak as soon as they had to compare head-to-head records with the Bobcats and Redhawks against the Falcons. If, on the other hand, Buffalo finishes ahead of Bowling Green, Ohio would be bounced from the tiebreak and Temple would win out via its head-to-head victory over Miami.

As it stands, Buffalo is currently 1-5 in conference while Bowling Green sits at 2-4. They have yet to meet head-to-head and will do so next week. If Bowling Green beats Ohio tonight, than the Owls no longer and have any use for the Bulls. On the other hand, if Ohio beats Bowling Green, Temple will need to rely on both Miami and Buffalo next week. In either case, they will need Miami to beat Ohio. Without that game going Temple's way, this all for naught.

So, it isn't over just yet, Temple fans. But the Owls may have to root for a Buffalo team who—other than their win over the Bobcats—have beaten only the Stony Brook Seawolves (*wow*) in 2011.

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

There's your Philadelphia 76ers season in a nutshell, huh? Nerlens Noel gets traded for an all-lemon pack of Starbursts, Ben Simmons' right foot is still apparently stuck in a beartrap, Joel Embiid can't get himself dismissed from the nurse's office, and Jahlil Okafor is forced back into +1 status after everyone else passed on going to the concert with Bryan Colangelo -- and the Ballers still go out and beat one of the best teams in the East in their first game back from the All-Star break. Nearly everything about the Sixers is depressing right now, except for the team themselves. They're cool. 

Kudos to Brett Brown, man. The team is playing with such fluency and energy right now that it can withstand some losses in personnel without the drop-off being particularly dramatic -- at least for the moment. Replacing Embiid and Noel with Okafor and Holmes for as long as we'll have to do it will catch up with us in time, but for now, all you can do is marvel at the pace, cohesion and (with some mildly glaring moments of exception) discipline that Brown has the guys playing at the moment. I doubt there are five coaches in the league having a more impressive season than him right now. 

But the players were pretty good in this one, too. Dario Saric had 20-11-4 in his first start in three weeks, continuing his unlikely Rookie of the Year surge with his third-straight double-double and fourth game of 20-plus in his last six games. The All-Star Break hasn't cooled Robert Covington's hot hand, as the shooter went 5-9 from deep last night and is now 17-31 on threes over his last four games, also posting a 20-10 night with his 25 points and 11 boards. (Also three assists and four steals, whatever.) Richaun Holmes dunked over some people and reminded a handful of fans why they've gotten way too excited about him at various points earlier in the year. Good times were had by all. 

Games like last night's also just remind you how marginal the difference between winning and losing is. As they've been wont to do forever, the Sixers blew their considerable lead to the Wizards late in this one, which would've undoubtedly resulted in a tragic loss in years past. But these days, the leads are a little bigger going into the Sixers' fourth-quarter tailspins, and their defense is just a little tighter on critical possessions, and that's the difference between losing on a Bradley Beal buzzer-beater and hitting just enough free throws to squeak out a mildly secure 120-112 victory. 

Anyway, after an impossibly discouraging week of Sixers happenings, it turns out some actual Sixers basketball is just what we needed. Hopefully their level of play will continue to get better as news of their off-court developments invariably keeps getting worse .

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart (see full recap).

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in his 28th triple-double of the season, and his new teammates fit in seamlessly as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-93 on Friday night.

Westbrook also had 18 rebounds and 17 assists for the 65th triple-double of his career.

It was the first game for new Thunder players Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Gibson scored 12 points and McDermott added eight, even though they arrived Thursday night and weren't even available for shootaround on Friday.

Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson each set a career high with 19 points, and Steven Adams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

D'Angelo Russell scored 29 for the Lakers (see full recap).

Pacers beat Grizzlies to snap six-game skid
INDIANAPOLIS -- CJ Miles made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Paul George had nine points and nine rebounds after remaining with Indiana following the trade deadline, and the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Monta Ellis finished with 16 points, Myles Turner scored 12, and Lavoy Allen, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young each added 10 for the Pacers.

The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies 64-42 across the middle two quarters and never relinquished their lead, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (35 for 84).

Troy Daniels had 13 points for Memphis and Marc Gasol scored 12. Indiana outrebounded Memphis 50-39 and scored 29 points off 17 Grizzlies turnovers (see full recap).