There really is no reason that anyone should have to make a case for the Ohio Bobcats to be included in the top 25. The ballots will be returned Monday, and while I am confident they will be receiving votes, I doubt they will make the cut. That is a shame because they most certainly deserve to be included and there are multiple reasons why.
The Bobcats are 20-2 overall and 9-2 in the best mid-major this season. In the non-conference, Ohio did not play a tough schedule but they do have a solid win against Purdue. The Boilermakers are currently 16-9 overall and 7-5 in the Big Ten. In conference, the Bobcats have posted wins again Central Michigan and Buffalo. Both squads made the sweet 16 last season, have at least on serious contender for MAC Player of the Year and both are currently in the top 25 in RPI rankings, though Central Michigan will certainly drop.
On the other side of the column, the Bobcats have losses to Central Michigan and Miami. That’s it. Not only is Central Michigan a quality loss, they were able to avenge that loss in impressive fashion tonight. More about that later. As for the Miami loss, the RedHawks are an impressive team that is 17-4 overall. The two teams they have lost to have a combined record of 33-10. This late in the season, most every team has at least one bad loss. The Bobcats do not.
Record alone should place the Bobcats in the top 25 conversation. The only team with 2 losses or less outside the top 10 is a vastly underrated Gonzaga squad. The fact that the Bobcats are not receiving votes tells me the vast majority of voters just aren’t playing attention to the “lowly” MAC, a conference that is 7th in RPI rankings, and quite frankly the top 4 would go toe to toe with just about anyone.
However, the polls are not just about rankings and record. The eye test is and should be a factor. Anyone that has watched Ohio this season knows they are a tough nosed team that can play with pace and has multiple offensive weapons. The game against Central Michigan also showed heart. Early, the Chippewas struggled and Ohio was clicking. The Bobcats build a commanding lead. However, Central Michigan is a championship team that has confidence and heart. They never gave up and quite frankly played like their at-large bid was on the line. They came back with a vengeance behind possible MAC Player of the Year Presley Hudson’s 28 points. The way the Bobcats handled themselves in that charge and the win they were able to produce should have showed the voters that this team is a legit MAC contender. In fact, the Bobcats are alone at the top of the conference this loaded. That alone should garner a top 25 ranking.