Head-to-head records. Point differentials. Tiebreakers of all manner of complexity.
With one game separating second place from sixth in the Freedom Conference standings, figuring out playoff scenarios — even with just two games left — can cause migraines.
So as King’s and Misericordia prepare to square off tonight, there’s a much simpler approach to take.
“Just gotta win,” King’s guard Joe Caffrey said.
Caffrey and the Monarchs have less room for error as they head into the Anderson Center for today’s 8 p.m. tip.
With five teams competing for the final three spots in next week’s Freedom Conference tournament, King’s sits a game out, tied with Manhattanville at 6-6 in league play.
Misericordia is part of a three-team jumble at 7-5 along with Delaware Valley and FDU-Florham. Only first-place DeSales (9-3) has clinched a spot.
The Cougars can wrap up a spot of their own tonight with a win over King’s coupled with a Manhattanville loss to DelVal.
The Monarchs’ postseason hoped had been on life support after dropping four of five headed into last week. But home wins over DelVal and Manhattanville put them right back in the mix.
Along with that comes the temptation for some scoreboard watching.
“Yeah, but we know that we have to win out, basically,” Caffrey said. “That’s our goal. That’ll put us in the best position to make the playoffs and give us an opportunity to win a MAC championship.”
Caffrey and his Misericordia point guard counterpart Matt Greene both figure to be in the spotlight tonight.
Greene scored 34 points over his last two home games, both Misericordia wins. But he scored just three points apiece in his last two road games, both losses.
In Saturday’s defeat at Delaware Valley, it was Joe Busacca who came through with a career-high 32 points, but the Aggies were able to hold Greene and dynamic forward Steve Ware to just eight combined.
“We feel like our three main guys (Greene, Ware, Busacca) have to do work every night — I don’t think that’s a secret,” Misericordia coach Trevor Woodruff said after Greene hit 1,000 career points against Wilkes. “When they have, we’ve been really good.”
For King’s, Caffrey scored a career-best 31 in Saturday’s win, hitting 5-of-7 from long range.
That extra scoring burst is particularly important for the Monarchs, as leading scorer Kyle Hammonds still isn’t quite 100 percent while dealing with a foot injury for the past few weeks, according to coach J.P. Andrejko.
Hammonds did not play the first time King’s and Misericordia met, with the Cougars pulling out a 71-66 win in overtime at Scandlon Gymnasium.
Caffrey recorded a double-double in that game (19 points, 10 rebounds) and the Coughlin grad has turned in a strong senior campaign for the Monarchs.
“It’s just all confidence,” Andrejko said. “Coming out of high school, Joe I thought was cocky. And cocky is fine, especially in a point guard. Then he got here … and early on in his career, we got on him for deferring to some of the upperclassmen.
“He had these skills all along, and I just think he was waiting (for) his time. I think he could have been doing this earlier in his career. Last year, he was fine. He was good. But as you can see, now he’s playing with that confidence.
“He understands as a senior that it’s his team. Him and Kyle — it’s their team. And they’re acting that way.”
Unlike the chaos on the men’s side, the four teams for the women’s Freedom Conference tournament are already locked in. And for the first time in more than a decade, neither King’s nor Misericordia will be in the bracket.
The Cougars haven’t been in the conference quite that long, but both they and the Lady Monarchs have been postseason fixtures in recent years. Both qualified for the 2012 NCAA tournament after playing each other for the league crown that season.
Entering today’s 6 p.m. game at the Anderson Center, however, Misericordia is 4-8 in conference play while King’s sits at 2-10. Both teams have dealt with key injuries this season and have been playing between seven and eight players regular minutes.
Like the Misericordia and King’s men, the first women’s meeting this season went to overtime, with the Lady Monarchs outlasting the Cougars for a 76-75 win.