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Skyline Conference Playoff Picture: The Wild Card World of the Unknown

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

Disclaimer: All scenarios mentioned in this article are unofficial, and are based on the rulebook for men’s basketball tiebreakers in the Skyline Conference. The teams and seeds for the Skyline Playoffs will formally be announced on Saturday night by the conference office.

With just one regular season game remaining for the 12 men’s basketball teams in the Skyline Conference, the time has come to take a look at the playoff picture. While six programs have already secured a birth in the Skyline Conference Championships, there are four different schools which are competing for the final two spots, and the order of the teams which have clinched has not fully been determined. As such, none of the four quarterfinals matchups is known yet.

As reported by MacsLive in November, major changes were made to the Skyline Conference’s playoff format, effective this season. In short, with two divisions being created, 8 of the now 12 teams will continue playing after the regular season concludes; the top two seeds no longer have a first round bye. The top three teams from each division, as well as two wild card teams with the best remaining records, will compete in the playoffs.

Locked and Loaded

Here are all of the spots which have been secured:

1: Yeshiva University Maccabees (15-0 Skyline), winner of South Division

2: Purchase College Panthers (11-4), winner of North Division

5: Farmingdale State College Rams (8-7), third place in South Division

6: Sarah Lawrence College Gryphons (7-8), third place in North Division

Farmingdale State holds the tiebreaker on Sarah Lawrence because of a head-to-head win in their only matchup this season. Despite being just a game up on two other teams in their division (Mount Saint Mary and Maritime), the Gryphons are locked into the 6 spot. This is due to their head-to-head tiebreaker on Maritime (2-0 against), and better-win tiebreaker over Mount Saint Mary (1-1 head-to-head; Sarah Lawrence defeated Purchase twice, while Mount Saint Mary will at best do so once).

Wait Till Next Year

Here are the teams which have been eliminated from championship competition:

St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn Bears (4-11), fifth place in South Division

St. Joseph’s College-Long Island Golden Eagles (2-13), sixth place in South Division

So What’s Left?

The 3-4 Spots

Current 3 Seed: Manhattanville College Valiants (10-5), second in North division

Current 4 Seed: The College at Old Westbury Panthers (10-5), second in South Division

Manhattanville defeated Old Westbury when the two teams faced off last month, giving the Valiants the tiebreaker over the Panthers. However, because they lost to Purchase twice and are down by one game in the standings, MVille cannot win the South Division. The only scenario where Old Westbury moves up to the three is if the Valiants are defeated by Sarah Lawrence on the road on Saturday, and the Panthers beat St. Joseph’s-Brooklyn. Otherwise, Manhattanville will be the three seed, and Old Westbury the four.

The 7-8 Spots: A Wild Card Mess

We have finally reached the section which all Yeshiva fans are interested in: the two wild card spots, and more specifically, the eight seed. Unfortunately for Macs fans, not only is this still very much in the air, but it is extremely complicated.

There are eight different scenarios involved, all based on three games which will be taking place on Saturday: Mount Saint Mary College Knights (6-9) @ Purchase College Panthers, The College of Mount Saint Vincent Dolphins (6-9) @ Farmingdale State College Rams, and US Merchant Marine Academy Mariners (5-10) @ Maritime College Privateers (6-9).

Scenario 1: CMSV, Maritime, and MSMC win; USMMA loses

If this occurs, Mount Saint Mary, Mount Saint Vincent, and Maritime will be in a three-way tie (all at 7-9). According to the conference rulebook, the tiebreaker for a three-way tie in the 7/8 seed situation “will involve using the cumulative record against the other teams involved in the tie. The team or teams with the best combined record (based on winning percentage) versus the other tied teams gains the advantage.” Against the group, the Privateers went 2-1, the Dolphins went 1-1, and the Knights went 1-2.

As a result, the 7 seed would be Maritime, and the 8 seed (YU’s opponent) would be Mount Saint Vincent.

Scenario 2: Maritime and MSMC win; CMSV and USMMA lose

In this situation, MSMC and Maritime are left by themselves at 7-9. The two teams were 1-1 head-to-head this year. Therefore, if this occurs, the Knights will have the tiebreaker on the Privateers due to better win; this is because the scenario includes Mount Saint Mary winning over Purchase (a team which Maritime did not defeat this season).

Therefore, the 7 seed would be Mount Saint Mary, and the 8 seed would be Maritime.

Scenario 3: CMSV, MSMC, and USMMA win; Maritime loses

Should this happen, Mount Saint Vincent and Mount Saint Mary will be tied for the seven spot. The Dolphins beat the Knights in their only game against each other this season, so they have the tiebreaker.

For that reason, the 7 seed would be Mount Saint Vincent, and YU would play Mount Saint Mary.

Scenario 4: MSMC and USMMA win; CMSV and Maritime lose

Mount Saint Mary would be left as the only 7-9 team in wild card discussion, so they would capture the 7 seed.

Meanwhile, the other three would be tied at 6-10, sending them to a three-way tiebreaker ruling. Against the group, being that the scenario includes USMMA defeating Maritime, USMMA would be 3-0 this season; Maritime would finish at 1-2, while CMSV would end up at 0-2.

With that tiebreaker, Merchant Marine would be the 8 seed.

Scenario 5: CMSV and Maritime win; MSMC and USMMA lose

Maritime and CMSV would be left at 7-9. The tiebreaker would go to Maritime, who defeated CMSV head-to-head.

So Maritime would be the 7 seed, and Mount Saint Vincent would face the Macs on Tuesday.

Scenario 6: CMSV and USMMA win; Maritime and MSMC lose

The Dolphins would be the only 7-9 team of these four, and receive the 7 seed.

The other teams would go to a three-way tiebreaker to decide the final spot. The Knights were 3-1 this season against this North Division pair. Assuming that USMMA wins against Maritime, the Mariners would finish at 2-2 in the group, and the Privateers would be 1-3.

Consequently, Mount Saint Mary would capture the final spot in the Skyline Conference Championships.

Scenario 7: Maritime wins; CMSV, MSMC, and USMMA lose

Alone in seventh place would be Maritime, who would therefore play Purchase in the quarterfinals.

Mount Saint Vincent and Mount Saint Mary would be left tied for eight. As mentioned above, the Dolphins hold a head-to-head tiebreaker on the Knights.

Therefore, the Macs would see a lot of white and gold on Tuesday night.

Scenario 8: USMMA wins; CMSV, Maritime, and MSMC lose

We’ve saved the best for last, because this is the most complicated and fascinating scenario. Should this happen—and looking at the matchups, this is statistically one of, if not the most reasonable of possibilities—these four teams will be knotted at 6-10. The tiebreaker for this is the same as the three-way tiebreaker; each teams’ record against the group is calculated.

Assuming that the Mariners win—which they do in this situation—Merchant Marine will be 3-2 against the group. Mount Saint Mary also comes in a 3-2, while Maritime would be 2-3 and Mount Saint Vincent 1-2. With that, Merchant Marine and Mount Saint Mary would be the final two teams.

Being that they had the same record against that group, the two would have to be separated by their head-to-head play. The Knights went 2-0 against the Mariners this year, so they hold the tiebreaker.

Accordingly, Mount Saint Mary would receive the seven seed, while Merchant Marine would capture the eighth and final spot, and play the Macs on Tuesday.


As it is quite clear, the wild card situation in the Skyline Conference is completely up in the air. The Macs will have to wait until Saturday night, when the conference office will announce the field, to know who their quarterfinals opponent will be.

If I were to make a prediction, I would guess that the Macs will face Mount Saint Vincent, as a Maritime win and Mount Saint Mary loss would unofficially guarantee this, regardless of the result in the Dolphins game. The Knights are in for an extremely difficult game against Purchase; Maritime and USMMA should be an excellent matchup. According to Matt Snyder’s model, Merchant Marine has a 53% chance to defeat the Privateers; Purchase has a 92% probability of defeating the Knights. In Scenario 1, CMSV also is the eight seed; that situation has about a 1% chance of occurring.

When computing the probabilities (based on the above model) of each team being the eight seed, the results are, roughly:

CMSV: 44.25%

USMMA: 38.69%

MSMC: 14.31%

Maritime: 2.75%

Regardless of who they face, all coverage of the Macs’ playoff journey will be provided to you by MacsLive, the broadcast home of the #17 Yeshiva University Maccabees.

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