One of my favorite developments in college basketball is the proliferation of postseason tournaments, not knowing how they're financed, and the fact that while most national media cares very little about them, the individual teams and their fans reluctantly hope for the best in them.
To me, hey, it's extra college basketball. Because why not? A tournament's a tournament. And the Collegeinsider.com Invitational Tournament might be the goofiest one. You may remember last year that Buffalo and Western Michigan met in the second round, giving us a MAC-on-MAC game in a non-MAC setting for the first time in God knows how long. OHIO played in it last year, then got a second-round bye, because the scheduling committee felt like it.
Probably an hour before the 2012 CIT field was announced, the field was going to be 24 teams and follow the same format as last year. And then they announced a 32-team field. Again ... why not? It's their tournament. They can do what they please. Not enough tournaments wing it, if you ask me. In fact, I hope by the third round they make the tournament double-elimination so Bowling Green can get back on it (because by then they will have been eliminated).
You're going to have some stuck-up people who look at the CIT and say "this has gotten out of hand. Look at how many teams get to play in the postseason! This used to mean something." What did it mean? And what's the "pure" number of teams allowed to go tournamenting? Heck, I'd love to start a team inviting only teams with 10 wins or less. Give a team that struggled something to build on for next year!
So as a result of the CIT's impromptu expansion from 24 to 32 — at least it's firm at 32 for all we know — the number of postseason teams has expanded from four to six. Here are the four MAC teams in the CIT and who they play:
TUESDAY, 7:00 p.m. — McNeese State (17-15, 10-6 Southland) at Toledo (18-16, 7-9 MAC)
WEDNESDAY, 7:00 p.m. — Bowling Green (16-15, 9-7 MAC) at Oakland (17-15, 11-7 Summit)
WEDNESDAY, 7:30 p.m. — Buffalo (18-10, 12-4 MAC) at American (20-11, 10-4 Patriot)
THURSDAY, 7:00 p.m. — Kent State (21-11, 10-6 MAC) at SC-Upstate (20-12, 13-5 Atlantic Sun)
And a reminder, the other two games in more established tournaments:
10:00 9:00 p.m. — (5) Akron (22-11, 13-3 MAC) at (4) Northwestern (18-13, 8-10 Big Ten)
NCAA: FRIDAY, 8:20 p.m. — (13) OHIO (27-7, 11-5) vs. (4) Michigan (24-9, 13-5 Big Ten) in Nashville, TN
As you'll notice, six of the top seven seeded teams made a postseason tournament. MAC West champs Eastern Michigan didn't earn any at-large berths because they have an overall losing record. I think that's a requirement. Possibly.
Note: these dates, times, teams and sports may change subject to the CIT's whims. Hopefully the sport they play is basketball, seeing that I bought the ticket for BGSU-Oakland already.