As Iron Man, Star Lord, Drax, Spider Man, and Mantis are thinking of their next move, Doctor Strange sits down, eyes closed. He appears agitated, as if in a trance. As he opened his eyes, he informed the Avengers that he looked into 14 million possible futures, of which they win one.

While the possibilities do not reach the millions, this also holds for the UAAP, with at two to three games left before the elimination round ends. The UE Red Warriors and the NU Bulldogs have both officially bowed out of contention, so let us look at the teams still trying to catch the Final Four bus.

There is a multitude of possibilities, with various combinations of wins and losses for each team. If we try to look at each one, the games would already be played. For example, Ateneo is guaranteed of at least a playoff for a twice-to-beat advantage should the lose both their remaining games. Instead, let us look at the most possible scenario, as well as some wild ones that have a possibility of happening.

Ateneo Blue Eagles (10-2): Clinched Final Four spot

Remaining games: DLSU, UST

Adamson Soaring Falcons (8-3)

Remaining games: UST, UE, FEU

DLSU Green Archers (7-4)

Remaining games: NU, ADMU, UP

UP Fighting Maroons (6-6)

Remaining games: UST, DLSU

FEU Tamaraws (6-6)

Remaining games: NU, AdU

UST Growling Tigers (5-6)

Remaining games AdU, UP, ADMU

This has been the tightest race to the postseason the UAAP has seen in years. With the exception of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, the teams listed still have a chance of missing the bus to the postseason. Amidst all this madness, let us try to make sense of the chaos before everything unfolds. This is the UAAP drunk, something we’ve grown used to all season long.

Strap in folks, we’re at the end game now.

Some reminders before we dig deeper:

1. This isn’t meant to be the be all, end all guide to what may happen in the Final Four. We only want to give out four possible scenarios for the Final Four race that’s ongoing right now. 

2. The arrangement we used for this piece are merely hypothetical and by no means final. Given that there aren’t exactly a clear set of UAAP rules, we’re playing this one by ear. Key word: HYPOTHETICAL.

3. This isn’t meant to be some concrete guide as if it’s some medical book. We’re doing this as one, a thought exercise as fans who are playing this by ear considering the lack of a concrete rule book, and two, for fun. 

4. Are some of these scenarios crazy? ABSOLUTELY. But that’s what makes basketball so fun. We indulge in the crazy. We enjoy it. So let’s sit back and marvel at the madness that’s in front of us now.

SCENARIO 1

Ateneo sweeps remaining assignments 12-2*

Adamson sweeps remaining assignments 11-3*

DLSU wins against NU and UP, loses against Ateneo 9-5

UP wins against UST, loses against DLSU 7-7

FEU wins against NU, loses against Adamson 7-7

UST drops remaining assignments 5-9

*Twice-to-beat advantage

Looking at the performance of these teams in the second round, this scenario can likely happen. Ateneo and Adamson, have proven to be a cut above the rest, performing with relative consistency over the course of the season. Sweeping the last games is a huge possibility, enough for them to clinch the twice-to-beat advantage. Both the Blue Eagles and the Soaring Falcons are that good. UST losing all their remaining games is also very possible as they have yet to face the top two seeds, as well as facing a dangerous UP team without rim protector Steve Akomo. DLSU, FEU, and UP are the wild cards since they all have games against that are not particularly sure wins or losses. DLSU vs UP can swing either way, ditto FEU-Adamson. These are must-win games for all involved.

An FEU-UP rubber match would be very interesting because the two teams split their outings in season 81.  FEU won 89-73 against UP in the First round, as UP’s 95-82 rout of the Tamaraws evened up the series. FEU holds a slight advantage as they did not have Prince Orizu and Arvin Tolentino the last time they met, prompting Bright Akhetie to feast down low. If both teams are complete when they play the playoff, it will surely be a treat for the fans.

SCENARIO 2

Ateneo sweeps the next 2 games 12-2*

Adamson beats UST and UE, loses to FEU 10-4*

DLSU beats UP, loses to NU and Ateneo 8-6

FEU sweeps remaining games 8-6

UP loses to DLSU, beats UST 7-7

UST loses remaining games 5-9

*Twice-to-beat

In this scenario, because of the loss of UP to fellow Final Four chaser DLSU, the Fighting Maroons have to wait for yet another season as they miss the Final Four by one game. A loss to NU would hurt for La Salle — it’s quite possible to, may I add — but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Because there is no advantage at stake, DLSU seals the third seed due to a larger winning margin (DLSU def. FEU 65-57, 2nd round) than FEU (FEU def. DLSU 68-61, 1st round). This sets up a third straight year that Ateneo and FEU, as well as DLSU and Adamson, meet in the Final Four. Ateneo and La Salle hold a 2-0 advantage in these matchups, but Adamson and FEU are looking to play spoiler and enter the finals.

SCENARIO 3

Ateneo sweeps the next 2 games 12-2*

Adamson beats UST and UE, loses to FEU 10-4*

UP sweeps remaining games 8-6

DLSU beats NU, loses to UP and Ateneo 8-6

FEU sweeps remaining games 8-6

UST loses remaining games 5-9

*Twice-to-beat

This is where it gets a little spicy. Instead of UP, DLSU wins against NU and drops the game against the Fighting Maroons. Because of this, UP hypothetically has the advantage because they swept DLSU. This sets up a playoff match to determine who makes it to the Final Four to face Ateneo. With Taane Samuel rumored to return in time for the Final Four, DLSU has a chance to match the fearsome frontline of the FEU Tamaraws.

SCENARIO 4

Ateneo sweeps the next 2 games 12-2*

Adamson loses remaining assignments 8-6

FEU sweeps remaining games 8-6

DLSU beats NU, loses to UP and Ateneo 8-6

UP sweeps remaining games 8-6

UST beats Adamson, loses to Ateneo and UP 6-8

*Twice-to-beat

This is the UAAP after a few bottles of beer, half a bottle of tequila, and some nice servings of good ‘ol weng weng. While Adamson dropping all their games seems improbable, it is not impossible. Ateneo, DLSU, and FEU did a good job of making them look mortal. Losing to UST is a huge possibility, especially with CJ Cansino playing Mythical Five level basketball as of late. UE is quite dicey, but Alvin Pasaol and Philip Manalang could lead their team into another explosive outing.

The arrangement of teams is tricky to do considering there is no clear rule in such a scenario, but we’ll work with the following. The reason: FEU sweeps Adamson in this scenario, and Adamson swept UP. This scenario will have two (!) sudden death matches, with FEU and Adamson battling for the twice-to-beat advantage, while UP and DLSU will slug it out for the fourth and final seed. These matchups are very exciting on paper, as FEU and Adamson needed an extra five minutes to settle their first-round tiff. DLSU unleashed a 13 point run to cut the UP lead to one before the Fighting Maroons settled their nerves and won in the clutch, 67-61.

There can only be one cast for the Final Four. There are six teams ready to bludgeon each other just to extend their season or fight for position. This is the end game. Let the fun begin.