How The MAC Basketball Tournament Could Look Without Toledo

With Tod Kowalczyk and Toledo out of postseason contention because of a low APR score, the MAC is now down to an uneven 11 teams in the tournament. (Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)

I really do feel bad for UT basketball. Their postseason ban based on a poor APR four-year score — including remnants of poor academic standing facilitated by two previous coaches — includes the NCAA tournament, any "ghost bracket" tournaments like the NIT and CIT, and consequently our own humble MAC Men's Basketball Tournament. It also prompted the transfer of Curtis Dennis, an incoming senior, to Iona, where he can play right away because of this postseason ban.

That's a shame. Not only did I think they'd be much improved, but virtually everybody in the program did nothing wrong to deserve this, and in fact they did practically everything right to turn 180 degrees away from the team previously in shambles. This also creates a weird dilemma: fitting 11 teams into a tournament meant for 12.

There's going to be a plan for an 11-team tournament — there has to be — and while they may not have figured it out yet, I have an educated guess on how it'll shake out.

I'll use the 2012 tournament seeding as an example:

(triple bye) 1. Akron (13-3)
(triple bye) 2. Buffalo (12-4)
(double bye) 3. OHIO (11-5)
(double bye) 4. Kent State (10-6)
5. EMU (9-7) vs. 12. NIU (3-13)
6. BGSU (9-7) vs. 11. CMU (5-11)
7. Toledo (7-9) vs. 10. Miami (5-11)
8. WMU (6-10) vs. 9. Ball State (6-10)

I'm sure in this scenario Miami would have no problem getting a bye into the second round. And this is the real inconvenience with the postseason ban; it deprives us of one first round game, all of which this year were insanely fun to the end.

Here's how I first imagined the seeding would be sans Toledo. Just take the No. 5 seed and give it a bye:

(triple bye) 1. Akron (13-3)
(triple bye) 2. Buffalo (12-4)
(double bye) 3. OHIO (11-5)
(double bye) 4. Kent State (10-6)
(single bye): 5. EMU (9-7)
6. BGSU (9-7) vs. 11. NIU (3-13)
7. WMU (6-10) vs. 10. CMU (5-11)
8. Ball State (6-10) vs. 9. Miami (5-11)

I think this works the best. The 5-seed, in this case, gets a bye into the second round, something that didn't exist last year in this format. The rest of the tournament continues as normal: The 5 plays the winner of 8-vs-9 and 6-vs-11 plays 7-vs-10, and they play the double byes.

The only question is how to assess tiebreakers and if they involve Toledo. Do they seed them like normal, include them in tie-breakers, then remove them and move everybody up, or do they just ignore them entirely?

Here's a hypothetical: Toledo finishes the MAC with a 15-1 record, would have won the MAC regular season title and been the No. 1 seed. Their only loss was to Kent State. Meanwhile, OHIO and Kent State are at 14-2 and 1-1 against each other. In a ban-less environment, Kent State is the No. 2 seed and OHIO is No. 3. But if you exclude UT from seeding and tiebreakers, then the tiebreaker goes to the next-best common opponent. And then you lop off Toledo, Kent State becomes the No. 1 and OHIO becomes the No. 2.

We'll see what they do, but I'm inclined to think they ought to include them as an actual existent team with results, then like a person losing their place in a line, everybody moves up a spot.

Caveat: I'm thinking there's probably a 0.1 percent chance that the MAC, which feels strongly that UT shouldn't be punished, gives the Rockets an exception from their rule saying that teams ineligible from NCAA postseason participation are also ineligible in the MACT. But that's the MAC's rule, not the NCAA's, so they have the jurisdiction to override it. But at what cost? If they play and win the whole thing (and they're good enough to), then who gets the auto-bid? It's probably for the best they don't play at all.

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