I was checking out the RPI rankings today, I saw a couple of interesting things. Buffalo and CMU are about where they were last year when they combined to make the MAC a 2 bid league. Good. Miami knocked off Ohio Wednesday night, and jumped to 59, while OU only dropped to 55. If I were going to call it right now, I would almost guarantee that the MAC will be a two bid league again, at minimum. If Ohio or Miami go on a run, the three bid league is certainly a possibility. If both do, then a 4 bid league is not out of the question. If Toledo makes a run like a few years ago and wins the MAC Tournament...
The point is that the MAC is loaded right now. Virtually every fan base in the conference has something to be excited about, and the top half of the conference has reason to be really enthusiastic about this season and beyond.
If the season ended today, I would be shocked if Central Michigan and Buffalo did not both receive invites to the NCAA tournament.
Ohio currently has the best overall record in the league and is sitting at 17-2. Their schedule is favorable to making an impression on the selection committee. They could be 19-2 when they take on CMU and Toledo in back to back games. After that they get WMU and Kent before taking on Buffalo. They close with Akron, Miami, and Bowling Green. If everything goes chalk and they lose to CMU, Buffalo, and Miami, they will be sitting at 24-5 in a well regarded league. More likely is they will win one or two of the bigger games, and drop one or two of the other games. There is a good chance that a deep run in the MAC tournament could propel them to an at-large bid.
As for the future, Bob Boldon has the Bobcats in a good position going forward. Last season was a hiccup in an otherwise phenomenal coaching job, and Ohio has a lot of young players that are making this current run. Only one of the 5 starters scoring in double digits is a senior.
Miami has made a miraculous turnaround in Megan Duffy’s two years and this season they are sitting at 14-4. While every game is tough in this league, the path for the RedHawks might be the easiest. They are done playing the Chippewas in the regular season, and have 8 games before they take on Buffalo and Ohio in back to back games. There could be considerable buzz around this team when they head to upstate New York. If they can split those games after mostly taking care of business with the rest of their schedule, I would think they would be getting a serious look from the committee as they enter the MAC tournament.
Toledo and Akron round out the top half of the conference, with regards to overall record. Both have reason for optimism for the future for opposite reasons. Tricia Cullop at Toledo has had amazing long term success, while Melissa Jackson is doing well in her first season.
Collegeinsider.com has a coaches poll for the top 25 mid-major teams, and currently 3 MAC teams are ranked in the top 10. Two others are receiving votes. The league is gaining attention nationally, in large part thanks to the NCAA Tournament run last season. Central Michigan and Buffalo are both stacked this season. I would be surprised if there isn’t at least one MAC win in this season’s NCAA Tournament. It is my hope that they are not the only schools from the conference in the tournament, too.
Going into next season, I expect Ohio and Miami to be even better, while Buffalo and Central Michigan still return a lot of talent. Toledo or another squad could jump into the mix, and 2019-20 might be the best season yet. There is the potential for this league to average 3 bids per season over a 3 year period. Hopefully this successful run builds up momentum to carry the entire conference to heights unfathomable just a few years ago.