Saturday, March 5, 2016

MAC conference tournament preview

This is part 15 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
Akron 13-5 (24-7)
Ohio 11-7 (20-10)
Buffalo 10-8 (19-12)
Kent St 10-8 (19-12)
Miami(OH) 6-12 (12-19)
Bowling Green 5-13 (14-17)
Central Michigan 10-8 (17-14)
Ball St 10-8 (19-12)
Northern Illinois 9-9 (20-11)
Eastern Michigan 9-9 (17-14)
Toledo 8-10 (17-14)
Western Michigan 7-11 (13-18)

Tournament format:
They start Monday March 7 on campus sites to get down to the top 8.  Then everyone in Cleveland from Thursday March 10 to Saturday March 12.  Divisions do not have an impact on seeding.

The matchups:
1) Akron vs. 8/9) Eastern Michigan/Toledo
4) Central Michigan vs. 5/12) Kent St/Bowling Green
2) Ohio vs. 7/10) Northern Illinois/Western Michigan
3) Buffalo vs. 6/11) Ball St/Miami(OH)

The stakes:
Did you realize Akron is all the way up to 34 in the RPI?  4 Top 50 wins...which are UCSB, Iona, and Ohio 2x.  That and just 6-7 in true road games and a sub-200 non-con SoS mean they're a non-player on the bubble.  Look for a 12 or 13 seed, depending on the surrounding environment.

The conference made a small move up to 10th in the conference RPI this year, although the reason is more because of the lack of bad teams.  Everyone with at least 12 wins, no one is a sub-250 RPI.  That's solid work in the bottom half; they just need a couple teams to emerge at the top to start cashing in on that with at-large bids in the future.

The ironic part might be that there's no true NIT at-large contender in this group.  Ohio is the closest, having the requisite RPI.  But they don't have a single top 100 win right now.  Behind them you have a staggering 6 teams with an RPI between 108 and 160, all just good enough for a postseason bid but far enough from the NIT.  The 3 other postseason tournaments will have their pick; in fact a problem might be that spots may simply run out in these tournament for them.

If I had to guess, Kent St and Buffalo should get invites, CMU and Ball St are bubble teams, and NIU, EMU, and Toledo are going to have a tough time finding spots.  I mean it's difficult for 7 teams to make 3 postseason tournaments.

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