Wednesday, January 02, 2019


The pre-season is over.  Now, we make ready for the 18 game demolition derby known as MAC Basketball, in this case the men's version.

It was a highly productive 2018 for the MAC, which we will be able to see by reviewing the chart below.  This is a copy of the NCAA's data they use for making selections, which sounds super-secret and all, but you can just download it.

You might have heard that the NCAA ditched they use NET...which works this way...

They are keeping the quadrant system as well, which rewards teams for winning games on the road.  To wit:
  • Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus.
For example, if you beat the #55 team on the road, that's a QI game and if you played them at home its Q2. 

We review all this to look at how MAC teams did in the pre-season, but also to determine whether the MAC has a chance at an at-large bid. 

Second question first.  Does the MAC have a chance at an at-large bid?  The answer is yes.

Remember, that even though there are 68 teams in the Big Dance, you need a NET of 40 or so to even have a shot at the bid.  As you can see, Buffalo would be in and Toledo has a shot, especially if they can beat Buffalo, which would now be a Q1 win.

Problem is, the truly best chance for an at-large is for Buffalo to beat everyone in sight and then lose in the MAC final.  No different than when BG football kept NIU out of a major bowl bid.  Buffalo winning the tourney certainly makes the second bid less likely.

Buffalo is the only team in the MAC with multiple wins in all four quadrants.  They've played the conference's toughest schedule and they are 11-1. (Note that EMU technically has a tougher schedule, but the NET doesn't count non D-1 games, which is why they are 2-7.  Same with BG at 6-5.)

Anyway, Buffalo is clearly in line for a shot at a bid, if they can continue to win in the MAC.  Every game will matter for them.  The Rockets are also 11-1, albeit against a much weaker schedule.  They have 1 Q2 win and no Q1 wins, whereas Buffalo has 4.

Another note is that the MAC's odds would be strengthened by a top-heavy conference, which would create more Q2 games.  And the MAC is strong.  As you can see, Ball State and Kent are also in the top 100 and Akron and OU have chances to make moves, too.  A road win against either Kent or Ball State is a Q2 win right now.

Yet another note.  The MAC has done well winning the games it should win.  Only one team has lost more than 1 Q4 games, and that's WMU, the lowest ranked team in the conference.  The MAC is 18-15 in Q3.

Some years, the MAC only finishes with one top-100 team, so this is a year where there is going to be some significant competition.  It is far from a slam dunk that any one of them can run through that gauntlet and, in fact, it could just as easily turn into a circular firing squad and no at-large bid.

I think its's going to be a good year for MAC Hoops, MBB-style.  From a BG perspective, it's a little sobering, because we might be a little better but everyone else seems to be getting better at a faster pace.  For example, Miami.  

But maybe those fortunes will change, starting with a very tough assignment in Kent Saturday. 

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