The Akron Zips are this season's Mid-American Conference regular season champions, holding a 26-7 (15-5 MAC) record. If the top-seeded team loses tonight in the MAC title game, there's still some optimism for the program as MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher says that there is still enough buzz for them to enter the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid.
Sat down with MAC commish Jon Steinbrecher earlier. If Akron loses tonight? "I KNOW they're in the conversation (for at large bid)"— Jason Arkley (@JasonAmessenger) March 13, 2016
The last time a MAC team entered the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection was 1999 when Miami advanced all the way to the Sweet Sixteen and Kent State was a one-and-done against Temple.
Zips have an RPI rank of 29 while defending MAC champions Buffalo has an RPI of 98. Ken Pom's rankings has Akron the no. 81 team in the country. Some of Akron's best out-of-conference wins this season was against Iona (MAAC champions), Arkansas (.500 record) and UC Santa Barbara (Big West semifinalist). Zips fell to Villanova in late November 75-56. An NCAA Tournament bid would be their first since 2013, and is currently (read: still) regarded as one of the better mid-major programs in the nation.
If they do end up losing in the MAC Championship, they will have a spot in the NIT with an automatic bid as regular season champions.