KSU junior Ali Poole in action vs. Buffalo in the MAC Tournament. (Photo by Austin Marisasy.)
Update: No three-bid league for the MAC
Central Michigan and Buffalo are indeed the only MAC teams to make the NCAA field. No. 8 Central will play No. 9 Michigan State in a very interesting match-up. No. 10 Buffalo will play No. 7 Rutgers. Bracket was released hours early because of an ESPN mistake.
Ohio was third on the NCAA’s list of “first four teams out.”
It still looks as if Kent State will make the WNIT, though the Flashes definitely won’t play in Dayton and may be less likely to play at Cincinnati.
But the Mid-American Conference’s stock seems to be falling for the NCAA Tournament.
In a new wrinkle this year, the NCAA selection committee released a “debatable eight” list last night, outlining eight teams in contention for the last four spots in the tournament. The list includes Ohio, which a few days ago seemed to have a pretty good chance at making the tournament. Ohio went 27-5 on the season and finished second in the MAC.
Here’s the full list as announced on ESPN yesterday. (ESPN broadcasts the women’s NCAA tournament):
- Arkansas (20-11, RPI 67, Omni ranking 71.)
- Auburn (21-9, RPI 50, Omni 47.
- Indiana (20-12, RPI 48, Omni 42.)
- Ohio (27-4, RPI 34, Omni 74) .
- Princeton (22-9, RPI 44, Omni 61).
- Tennessee (19-12, RPI, Omni 49).
- TCU (20-10, RPI 58, Omni 43).
- UCF (26-6, RPI 15, Omni 64).
The list was out of date almost as soon as it was released. Princeton beat Penn in the finals of the the Ivy League tournament shortly after the NCAA named the eight. It’s unclear whether the Tigers would be replaced on the debatable list; I’ve seen nothing that indicated they would be.
Since the debatable eight list came out, I’ve seen no NCAA bracket that included Ohio.
RPI emphasizes a team’s record and strength of schedule. It is based 25 percent on a team’s record, 25 percent on its opponents’ record, and 50 percent on its opponents’ opponents’ record. Road victories are weighted and home losses are weighted more than twice as much as how wins and road defeats. The flaw in the RPI is that you get lots of credit for playing good teams; the RPI doesn’t take into account whether you beat them. So the RPI has fallen into disfavor in recent years; the NCAA men’s committee has dropped it entirely.
The Omni rankings were pointed out to be this week by the KSU athletics communication and women’s basketball people. They’re broader, also including things like wins against stronger teams, margin of victory (counting for less as the margin gets bigger) and heavier of results of recent games.
The WNIT says it uses both the RPI and broader measures.
What seems to be hurting Ohio is its strength of schedule. One service ranked their schedule 270th hardest out of 351 teams.
Kent and the WNIT
The unofficial word from the KSU athletic department is that Dayton is definitely out as a first-round opponent. The city is hosting the “First Four” of the NCAA men’s tournament, which means Dayton won’t be hosting any first-round women’s game. As expected, sources say Kent State won’t be hosting a game.
They also say Cincinnati (21-10, RPI 77, Omni 62) is less likely than I thought because the city is so centrally located that it’s an attractive site for many teams.
So that leaves Ohio State (14-14, RPI 101, Omni 77) among my previous predictions as a likely site. Other possibilities include (by distance, with closest first) West Virginia (20-10, RPI 79, Omni 26), IUPUI 19-11, RPI 135, Omni 88), Butler (21-9, RPI 74), RPI 56, Omni 67), American 22-10, RPI 71 Omni 113), Georgetown (16-15, RPI 71, Omni 59), Virginia Tech (20-11, RPI 73, Omni 39), Purdue (19-15, RPI 89, Omni 75), Indiana (20-12, RPI 48, Omni 42).
Kent State’s record is 18-12, RPI is 83 and Omni ranking is 118. Yes, the Flashes won 19 games. But none of the ranking services count non-Division I games in their thinking. KSU played Division II Clarion on New Year’s Eve.
The Omni website includes a projected bracket of the WNIT. They put Kent State at Cincinnati.
The WNIT does seed after a fashion — putting teams in top, middle and bottom tiers. Top and bottom play, as do two middle teams. Looking at Omni’s bracket, KSU would be in the bottom tier.
So add that into the equation and we get these possible opponents (taking into account distance and my guess on tier): Cincinnati (I’m not giving up), West Virginia, Butler, Virginia Tech, Georgetown,.
Assuming Ohio doesn’t make the NCAA, the MAC would have four teams in the WNIT: Ohio, Miami, Kent State and Toledo.
Central Michigan and Buffalo should make the NCAA.
I’m writing at 4 p.m. Monday. We’ll know for sure in about seven hours.