Skip to content

Middle Tennessee State could be worthy of an at-large bid

Mar 4, 2013, 6:33 PM EDT

Kermit Davis AP

The question as been posed a few times in Sun Belt Conference circles. Does Middle Tennessee State deserve an at-large bid to the Big Dance, should they fall in the conference tournament?

The Blue Raiders are 27-4 with a 19-1 mark in the conference. They’re far and away predicted to win the conference tournament next week and give coach Kermit Davis his first trip to the NCAA Tournament since he took over the program in 2002. But if that doesn’t happen, what’s left for the Blue Raiders?

At first glance, the schedule doesn’t paint the picture of an at-large candidate.

MTSU has one win over a team currently in the RPI Top 100, no. 58 Ole Miss according to RealTimeRPI.com. Other than that, they’ve whiffed, badly, at any other attempt at a quality win, with losses to RPI no. 6 Florida (66-45 on a neutral court), no. 46 Akron (82-77 on the road) and no. 23 Belmont (64-49 on the road).

But after digging a bit, there’s a legitimate case.

First, let’s concentrate on the bad losses. When it comes to a team in a league like the Sun Belt, those mainly come from within your own conference. The Blue Raiders worst loss is their lone conference defeat, at Arkansas State, a 17-11 team that is currently no. 155 in the RPI. Not really what anyone would call a ‘bad loss’.

In a season in which teams like Virginia are losing to Old Dominion and no. 1-ranked programs are falling like they’re in front of a firing squad, there’s something to be said about a team with no bad losses.

Also, while the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee doesn’t do precedents, there’s one set in the Sun Belt. In 2008, the conference got two bids out of automatic qualifier Western Kentucky and South Alabama lucking out with the at-large bid despite losing to, ironically, Middle Tennessee State in the semifinals. The Jaguars were the no. 1 seed entering the tournament.

That season, the Jaguars got a 10-seed with a 26-6 overall record and a 16-2 mark in-conference. Their best out-of-conference wins were over two tournament teams, San Diego and Mississippi State, both teams that made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They also swept WKU in the regular season.

So in terms of “good wins”, South Alabama’s two don’t exactly make them jump off the page over the 2012-13 version of MTSU.

Then there’s the overall wins themselves. The Blue Raiders are at 27. If they, say, get to the conference title game, they’ll be at 29. Even in a largely-one bid league like the Sun Belt, how can the selection committee overlook 29 wins in a season?

If put on the spot, I’d say Middle Tennessee gets the at-large. They may not have the eye-popping wins that grab the committee’s attention, but they also don’t have the kind of losses that make a team look suspect.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

Latest Posts
  1. Memphis commit reclassifying to 2015, will enroll next month

    May 27, 2015, 7:31 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The 6-foot-11 center was originally expected to attend prep school before joining Memphis in 2016.

  2. St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin throws out first pitch at Yankees game (VIDEO)

    May 27, 2015, 5:38 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The 6-foot-6 southpaw showed off his arm, and was accurate in doing so.

  3. Bill Self wins Hall of Fame’s humanitarian award

    May 27, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    150527_billSelf Getty Images

    Self and his wife created the Assists Foundation.

  4. Auburn center Trayvon Reed released from jail

    May 27, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Reed broke a cop’s finger while resisting a shoplifting arrest.

  5. Nebraska and Tim Miles have agreed on a contract extension

    May 27, 2015, 10:28 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Miles is 47-49 in three years with Nebraska.

  6. UAA mixtape of DeAndre Ayton, the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2017

    May 26, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    DeAndre Ayton finally got a chance to play this spring and delivered in a big way.

  7. Top-150 Class of 2016 point guard is focused on seven schools

    May 26, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    walker

    Point guard CJ Walker is focused on seven schools during the recruiting process.

  8. Report: Class of 2016 four-star wing considering college among playing options for next season

    May 26, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Four-star guard Maverick Rowan has a choice to make for his basketball future in the immediate future.

  9. Minnesota lands transfer wing from the SEC

    May 26, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    FAYETTEVILLE, AR - FEBRUARY 24:  Davonte Fitzgerald #15 of the Texas A&M Aggies goes to the basket and is guarded by Anthlon Bell #5 of the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on February 24, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Minnesota closed out its 2015 recruiting efforts with its second incoming transfer of the offseason.

  10. Five observations from EYBL Minneapolis

    May 26, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT

    (Jon Lopez/Nike) (Jon Lopez/Nike)

    The spring grassroots season is over and another spring EYBL season is complete.

  11. The Atlantic 10 announces their conference play pairings

    May 26, 2015, 3:21 PM EDT

    Atlantic 10 logo A-10 A 10

    The schedule isn’t out yet, but each team now knows who they will play and where they will play them.

  12. Norfolk State to lose talented center to transfer

    May 26, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    RaShid Gaston averaged 15.5 points and 9.6 boards.

  13. Report: USC lands Louisville transfer, former top 50 recruit

    May 26, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Shaqquan Aaron could never crack Rick Pitino’s rotation.

  14. There’s only one way the NCAA gets UNC investigation wrong: a 2016 postseason ban

    May 26, 2015, 12:42 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The only people that would punish are the people that had nothing to do with the violations in the first place.

  15. Chris Collins has signed a contract extension with Northwestern

    May 26, 2015, 10:54 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Collins has Northwestern trending in the right direction.

  16. Austin Rivers plays pick-up against LSU freshman Antonio Blakeney, Rutgers freshman Corey Sanders (VIDEO)

    May 25, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Getty Images Kelly Kline/Getty Images

    Austin Rivers played against some exciting rising freshmen in Antonio Blakeney and Corey Sanders.