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The Journal Gazette

Monday, March 19, 2018 2:58 pm

Mad Ants can clinch tonight

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants can clinch a playoff spot with a victory tonight at 7 p.m. over the Wisconsin Herd at Memorial Coliseum.

But, according to the G League, the Central Division title would still be up for grabs.

Barely.

The Mad Ants have a one-game lead over the Grand Rapids Drive in the division with three games remaining, and own the tiebreaker (divisional record). But, and this is key, Grand Rapids would have three games remaining after tonight and could still leapfrog Fort Wayne.

Six teams from the conference will make the playoffs. The three division winners will get the top three seeds, plus there will be three wildcards. The Mad Ants need only a half-game to get enough separation from seventh-place Lakeland to make the postseason a reality, and then it becomes a matter of whether they'll have the division title and, perhaps, a first-round bye.

I find this whole system preposterous. As if a single-elimination playoff until the best-of-3 finals isn't bad enough because teams aren't guaranteed a home game — I feel bad for the season-ticket holders who sit through a regular season with so little end game — think about what the race for the No. 2 seed means for Fort Wayne. If the Mad Ants get the second seed, yes, they get a bye through the first round, but the local fans don't get to see a home game until that second round. Financially, they are better served to get the third seed, get a guaranteed home game in the first round and the potential for another one.

Like so many things with the G League, the concept probably sounded great in the New York offices. But when you're running a business in a mid-sized market, it's not as good.