The RPI currently has Central Michigan ranked 28. Buffalo is ranked 21 and the two teams will battle on Valentine’s Day. However the most interesting ranking of the day comes in at number 41. Ball State has lost 4 league games and is still in a position to move up the rankings into bubble range. More importantly from a league standpoint, they give street cred to the two teams that are looking more and more like an at-large bid by the day.
First, let’s take a look at Central Michigan. They are sitting at 28. They recently got 10 votes in the latest AP poll. They’ll certainly get votes in the coaches poll, and there is an outside shot they might actually get ranked. Counting the regular season and tournament, they have a loss, maybe two, and will likely get an invite. Especially if that loss comes to Buffalo
The Bulls are a little trickier to figure out. A win over CMU and they will be ranked in the top 20 in the RPI, but they are receiving no votes in the AP poll. I don’t think they are quite into win out mode, but I do think a win over CMU, either on Wednesday or in the tournament would be needed to get a bid in the NCAAs. Since the tournament win would likely come in the finals, that makes Wednesday’s match up kind of a must win for an-at large bid.
Last, I am going to include Ball State in the conversation. They have only slipped to 41. If they win out until the MAC championship game and lose to either Buffalo or CMU, I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that they would have enough credibility to earn an at-large bid. Going undefeated in non-conference put them on the radar.