Andrew Walker

The last thing Ball State University needed was to lose at the University of Toledo on Saturday. Coming into the game, the Rockets were riding a 19-game losing streak and were winless in Mid-American Conference play at 0-14. Ball State, meanwhile, could have claimed at least a share of the MAC West title and almost guaranteed a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament with a win.

But behind a 3-for-19 (15.8 percent) first-half shooting performance, the Cardinals caved under pressure, losing 45-42 to the lowly Rockets and deflating as they head into Thursday's critical season finale at Western Michigan University, setting up a myriad scenarios for Ball State's MAC Tournament hopes.

The first four seeds in the MAC Tournament earn the important first-round bye. The first two seeds go to the West and East Division champions and the next two seeds are the next best conference teams based on MAC records. Seeds five through 12 must play a first-round MAC Tournament game at campus sites before advancing to quarterfinal play in Cleveland against seeds one through four.

Here are the various scenarios that could unfold with the outcome of Ball State's game Thursday at Western Michigan:

If Ball State wins Thursday
- And Eastern Michigan loses at home Thursday to Central Michigan, then the Cardinals and the Chippewas tie for the MAC West title, but Ball State gets the No. 2 seed in the MAC Tournament due to having the tiebreaker over Central Michigan.

- And Eastern Michigan wins Thursday, then Eastern Michigan and Ball State tie for the MAC West title, but Eastern Michigan gets the No. 2 seed in the MAC Tournament due to having the tiebreaker over Ball State.

- And Buffalo loses on the road at Miami, then Ball State claims at least the No. 4 seed in the MAC Tournament and the first-round bye due to having the same MAC record as Buffalo and Miami, but defeating both teams during the regular season.

- Buffalo defeats Miami on the road, then Buffalo gets the No. 4 seed in the MAC Tournament due to having a one-game advantage over Ball State in the MAC standings. Ball State would then claim the No. 5 seed and play host to Toledo Sunday in the first round of the MAC Tournament.

If Ball State loses Thursday
- And Eastern Michigan loses at home Thursday to Central Michigan, then the Chippewas win the MAC West outright and earn the No. 2 seed in the MAC Tournament.

- And Eastern Michigan wins Thursday, then Eastern Michigan wins the MAC West outright and earns the No. 2 seed in the MAC Tournament.

- And Buffalo defeats Miami, then Buffalo gets the No. 4 seed and the bye and Ball State gets the No. 5 seed and plays host to No. 12 seed Toledo on Sunday at Worthen Arena.

- And Miami defeats Buffalo, then Miami gets the No. 4 seed, Buffalo gets the No. 5 seed and plays host to No. 12 seed Toledo in the first round and Ball State gets the No. 6 seed and plays host to No. 11 seed Northern Illinois on Sunday at Worthen Arena.