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A Two-Bid Conference


The MAC thus far has been a conference dominated by the Akron Zips and Ohio Bobcats who are both off to 6-0 starts. Last season, these two teams met in a thrilling MAC championship game that sent the Bobcats dancing and the Zips to the NIT. This year is seemingly set for a collision course that will likely end with the same result of one team dancing and one team in the NIT as Saturday begins a potential three game showdown of Akron Zips vs. Ohio Bobcats.

There is always the possibility of the MAC being a two bid conference, although research shows this is unlikely. The NCAA selection committee has traditionally favored the high majors with 10-12 losses over mid-majors with single digit losses in their selection process. While some of the stronger mid-major conferences have seen at-large bids in the past, the MAC has always been a one-bid conference. Looking at the current RPI ratings, Akron sits at #68 and Ohio sits at #99. Both teams can presumably climb the rankings if they continue their flawless MAC records. Digging deeper, we see that Akron is currently sitting at a 1-2 record vs the RPI top 50 and a 2-3 record vs. RPI top 100 while Ohio has a 0-2 record vs. the RPI top 50 and a 2-3 record vs RPI top 100. Five games is not a large sample size versus top 100 teams and shows the weak schedule that both teams have played up to this point. Playing up to three games versus each other will improve each team's strength of schedule and allow them to gain quality wins.

Seeing as Akron currently has the slight edge in RPI over Ohio, they seem most likely to earn a potential at-large. I only see one way of this being a possibility. Akron running the table and earning two wins over Ohio and a potential bracket buster win would put them at 26-4 heading into the MAC tournament. A loss in the MAC Championship would give them a final record of 27-5. It is not unheard of for a 27-5 team to be left out of the tournament, but Akron would certainly make a strong case for a tournament bid with an undefeated regular season in the MAC. Ultimately, I think they failed to earn that defining win in early season games versus Oklahoma St and Creighton that could have solidified a potential at-large bid and the MAC will almost certainly be a one-bid conference once again.

This post was submitted by one of our esteemed readers and does not necessarily reflect the opinions or thoughts of Hustle Belt or SB Nation.

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