Monday, March 17, 2014

MAC Men's Basketball In Post-Season

So, there are now five teams left in MAC play...and a familiar storyline.

WMU is a #14 seed in the tournament, playing Syracuse on Thursday in Buffalo.  This is a tough assignment, though interesting.  WMU is playing very well right now and Syracuse is not, which helps.  WMU is used to playing the Syracuse 2-3 zone in the guise of EMU, so they will at least know what they are looking at.  WMU has an inside game and outside shooters.  It is helpful to the Orange that the game is in Buffalo, only 2 hours from their home, so there should be a strong Syracuse presence.

Look, the odds are way against WMU.  Having said that, who knows?  I think they have a shot.

Toledo did not get an at-large bid.  They were never going to get an at-large bid without going undefeated or nearly undefeated.  The MAC is a one-bid league.  More on that in a minute.  

Not only did UT not get an at-large bid, but they were a #6 seed in the NIT.  The NIT seeds by region, just like the NCAA does, (in other words, that's not a #6 seed overall, that's a #21-#24 seed overall.)  Worse yet, they are playing on the road and playing @Southern Mississippi, a #3 seed and the highest RPI team in the NIT.  That's a tough 24 hours for the Rockets.

Three MAC teams made the CIT, two of them with home games.

Ohio has the most interesting matchup.  They will host Cleveland State.  The Vikings were 21-11 with the #91 RPI in the nation.  They finished 2nd in the Horizon and won 10 out of their last 12 games.  This actually has the potential to be a pretty good game.

Akron has the away game, @IPFW.  The Mastodons had a really nice season at 24-10, though it was the #282 schedule.  They were 2nd in the Summit League.  In the MAC, they beat BG and lost to Miami.  They were 12-2 at home, so that could make this one pretty interesting.

EMU will host Norfolk State.  This is EMU's first post-season game in 16 years, and it is a game they should win.  They are playing Norfolk State of the MEAC...where they were 19-14.  The Spartans did beat BU (the regular-season Patriot Champ) but beyond that, the 19 wins were generated against the nation's #326 ranked schedule.  Their RPI is 232 and they were 145th in the nation in offense.  EMU should advance to the next round.

Anyway, a couple final thoughts.

First, everyone is talking about UT not getting the at-large bid.  I'm not surprised.  When this stuff starts to come up every year in December, I stick with the safe money...the MAC doesn't get at-large bids.  It has served me well.  UT was never in any serious conversation in the New Year about an at-large bid and I don't believe they received any consideration at all.

They are in the same trap that the MAC is always in.  As Kowalcyk talked about in The Blade this morning, they didn't play more top ranked teams because the top ranked teams will only play Toledo as a home game.  They will not schedule a home and home with the Rockets...or most/any MAC teams.  And there you are...your choices are try to get an at-large berth playing top teams exclusively on the road or try to win 30 games against the schedule you have.  The same schools that won't play you criticize you for not playing them.

I used to point to the Missouri Valley as a conference doing this right, but they were a one-bid league this year, too.  In fact, the Mountain West and West Coast were the only true mid-major multi-bid leagues and they each got 2.

It is a problem.  Do I think the tournament would be better with a 27 win Rocket team (imagine me saying this--just figure we are speaking in hypotheticals) over Iowa or Tennessee.  I think so.  That is not how things roll.  And Kowalcyk is feeling the same frustration others have felt, including Dakich pre-WVU.  If you want to coach in a multi-bid league, you have to leave the MAC and that is not going to change so long as the MAC is determined to be an FBS football participant.

I don't think this is an image thing.  It is a power and money thing.

Buffalo is left out...schadenfreude is reigning supreme.  Bobby Hurley was made to be loathed by his opponents, and this one fell right in their lap. I'm surprised...they won the East and finished ahead of Ohio and Akron...but, some of these tournaments do require financial participation, so maybe that was an issue.  On the other hand, for New York State, you think you'd have the money.

Rumors that Hurley is behind the missing Malaysian jet are completely out of line and don't bear repeating.

Update:  Buffalo apparently decided not to play in anything but the NCAA or NIT.  Go figure.

No comments :