The latest RPI has 4 MAC squads in the top 50. Buffalo is ranked 22, Ball State 35, Central Michigan 39, and Toledo 46. While the NCAA is trying to move away from RPI rankings, they still mean something.
As the MAC season is nearing the halfway mark, it’s becoming obvious what needs to happen for the women to get 2 bids into the tournament. Out of those 4 teams, any two can go on a winning streak. All 4 have some things going for it, at least as far as perception with the committee. Ball State was one of the last teams to lose a game, and received an AP vote. Buffalo played a tough schedule and has been in the top 25 of the RPI. One of Central Michigan’s losses was to a Big Ten team that it could have beaten, but they lost in a close game. Toledo made the tournament last season. The committee is much more comfortable awarding an at-large bid to a team that has been there recently.
For much of the conference season, I have been of the opinion that the there is a 50/50 shot that two teams will receive a bid. I am now starting to lean toward 75/25 in favor of a second team getting a bid. There might even be the remote possibility of a third team getting an invite, especially if there is some MAC tournament magic.
Here is a crazy scenario. Buffalo splits with CMU and then wins their remaining game against Toledo, and wins the rest of their games, with maybe 1 hiccup. That will keep them in the top 25 of the RPI. The loss to Buffalo is the only CMU loss until the MAC tournament. Ball State’s only remaining loss is against CMU. That would likely leave 3 top 30 RPI teams in the conference. Then Toledo goes on a run and wins the conference tournament again.
While all that wont happen, that gives me more confidence in my 75/25 prediction that the MAC will be a 2 bid league this season.