Because of confusion with the Big West Conference’s tiebreaker rules, the UC Irvine women’s basketball team will play University of the Pacific tonight in a first-ever playoff game to determine the last spot in the conference tournament.
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Cal State Long Beach’s University Gym.
Irvine (8-19 overall, 4-14 in the Big West) finished the regular season in a three-way tie for seventh place with Pacific and UC Santa Barbara. Only eight of the 10 conference teams make the tournament field.
The first criteria for breaking ties is head-to-head competition. The Big West men’s tournament committee agreed that multiple ties would be decided by combined record against the group of tied teams. Using that formula, UCSB--which was 3-1 against Irvine and Pacific--would be the seventh-seeded team and Irvine (2-2) would be No. 8. Pacific was 1-3.
But the women’s committee did not anticipate a multiple tie and made no such agreement. Pacific officials thought Santa Barbara’s 3-1 record should give it the No. 7 seed, but then Irvine and Pacific should be judged as if they had tied for eighth.
The teams split this season. The second tiebreaking criteria is record against the conference’s highest finishers. Pacific beat fifth-place San Diego State and the Anteaters do not have a victory against any of the top five teams.