For the MAC to get a second bid this season, there are a couple of possible formulas. The simplest is for a ranked Buffalo to keep motoring along, stay ranked, or close to it, and then drop the conference title game. However, there is another path, and it pretty much starts and ends with this Saturday.
Currently, there are 4 teams in the MAC with impressive records. Central Michigan doesn’t play Saturday. Buffalo plays Southern Illinois, a team they should beat. If they don’t, they get to play #25 Syracuse next, so they basically get a mulligan. It’s not must win Saturday, it’s could win Saturday.
Western Michigan, who is currently sitting a 5-4, takes on unbeaten Michigan. This instate game doesn’t mean much for the conference, unless the Broncos compete. A win, or even competitive game, puts the world on notice of just how deep this conference is. Would that jump WMU to a top 25 ranking? No. However, it puts the MAC in the mouths of the national media. About the time that games ends, the Kent State Golden Flashes take on the Louisville Cardinals.
The Louisville Cardinals are not ranked, but they are 7-3 and well known nationally. Kent is 8-1 and somewhat known to the national audience, because of their tournament appearance against Lonzo My Dad is a PR Machine Ball. A win by the Golden Flashes here might get them ranked, but will certainly get them votes. After that, they take on a 6-2, but beatable, Oregon State Beavers squad. A win there would probably get them ranked. A close loss to Louisville with a win over OSU would also put Kent in the conversation of ranked teams.
Want 2 bids to the NCAA tournament? Get two teams ranked during non-conference play. The MAC is closing in on that dream.