While the MAC tournament begins Monday night, most eyes will be focused on the Colonial Athletic Association final between Drexel and Virginia Commonwealth. Most observers will tell you that the loser of that game can't hope for more than a berth in the NIT.
The Rams have an outside chance at an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament; the Dragons, who have clinched a spot in the NIT already, are slightly further off the pace.
But there is still a chance that the committee credits Drexel for a very good season if they lose. After all, the Dragons haven't lost since January 2, and almost every one of their losses in the early part of the season were with a team at less than full strength.
You might be thinking, "That is nice, but what does that have to do with the MAC?" Here is the thing. Ohio is almost the same, or even better than Drexel. When the committee makes a decision on the Dragons, could it set a precedent for future tournaments that could impact a season like the one the Bobcats just finished?When I say that Ohio is almost Drexel, there are some key differences:
- "L" at Eastern Michigan.
- "L" at Toledo.
Both of those teams have RPI rankings of 200-plus. That, more than anything else, is what is keeping Ohio out of a lot of discussions right now. They have the better resume than Akron thanks to a more impressive non-conference schedule. They have 23 wins. They just don't have enough because of one week in February.
Drexel doesn't have those losses. The Dragons won all those "gimme" games. Ohio had its week of "Guh" when it couldn't handle two road trips.
Even with that, here is the Bobcats' resume now: RPI: 71, SOS: 191, 0-1 against the RPI top 50, 6-2 against the next 50. Two losses against RPI 200-345.
Look at Drexel: RPI: 74, SOS: 264, 0-1 against the RPI Top 50, 4-1 against the next 50. No losses against RPI 200-345
Which of those two teams looks better on paper to you?
You almost have to pick Ohio... except for those two losses.
So if Drexel loses tonight, and the committee still rewards them Sunday, does Ohio have to think that this is the season they let get away?
With two extra wins, they would be conference champs of a league that is similar in stature to the CAA based on the RPI. They would be without a bad loss, with Bowling Green at No. 142 being the worst.
They would be that bubble team that people are talking about.
So while those four first-round games are playing tonight, keep an eye on the CAA. What happens there could start a chain of events which could impact the Ohios of the world in coming seasons.