In case Buhach Colony and Merced needed additional motivation for Friday's Central California Conference showdown, it arrived Wednesday.
The Bee's BCS-type projections make it clear: They both desperately need a victory, though for different reasons.
A Buhach (7-0, 2-0) win will keep it as the No. 1 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs, while a loss could send the Thunder on the road for the Nov. 12 playoff opener. The Thunder is one of seven teams with one loss or less in D-2, and five others are 5-2.
A Merced (3-4, 1-1) win will keep its D-1 hopes alive, as well as keep it in the hunt for the CCC title. If the Bears lose, they'll need a monumental collapse by Buhach and Turlock to make the playoffs.
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Six wins appears to be the magic number for a playoff berth in the four large divisions, unless a team gets one of two automatic spots from its league.
Buhach would be one of six Merced County teams in the playoffs if they began Friday, but the total is deceiving. Livingston and Golden Valley lack the required two league wins, with three games to go.
D-4A Livingston (5-2, 0-2 in the Western Athletic Conference) can earn those wins by beating Ceres and Central Valley (both 1-6).
D-1 Golden Valley (5-1, 1-1 CCC) must beat Turlock, Buhach or Merced. D-4B Hilmar (5-3, 2-2 Trans-Valley League) faces a challenge, as well, needing to beat Orestimba or Escalon to secure the sixth win that an at-large team will likely need.
Southern League rivals Le Grand (5-2, 4-0) and Mariposa (4-3, 2-2) are in good shape to make the D-5 playoffs.
Mariposa will likely advance even at 5-5 because there are fewer teams in D-5 and only a handful possess winning records.