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. Report: Oklahoma State lands big man transfer from Washington

    May 5, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Oklahoma State has added a big man who could help in the rotation if he’s eligible.

  2. Old Dominion gets a transfer forward from Illinois

    May 5, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Old Dominion is gaining a transfer from Illinois

  3. Report: Four-star Class of 2015 Florida commitment will ask for release

    May 5, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp Getty Images

    Florida looks like they’ll be losing a key member of their 2015 recruiting haul.

  4. Nebraska lands former Louisville guard as a transfer

    May 5, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Nebraska picked up a guard who should help after one season.

  5. Tennessee forward will transfer

    May 5, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Tennessee is losing its second front court player of the off season to transfer.

  6. Florida State lands four-star Class of 2016 guard

    May 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

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

    Florida State grabbed an impact shooting guard in 2016.

  7. Florida AD Jeremy Foley: Goal is to make a hire ‘sometime in June’

    May 5, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT

    AP AP

    This isn’t a decision that is going to get made quickly.

  8. Looking Forward: The eight most intriguing coaching hires of 2015

    May 5, 2015, 3:26 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Of all the changes on the coaching carousel, what are we most interested in seeing?

  9. Texas got Shaka Smart, but they won’t be getting ‘HAVOC’

    May 5, 2015, 1:43 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    As it stands, it appears that Texas will not be bringing ‘HAVOC’ to Austin.

  10. South Carolina announces the departure of three players

    May 5, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Demetrius Henry is the only player of note leaving the program.

  11. The NCAA tabs a new head of men’s basketball officiating

    May 5, 2015, 11:42 AM EDT

    NCAA NCAA

    J.D. Collins will be the one to replace John Adams.

  12. Boise State lands graduate transfer guard from Boston College

    May 4, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Boise State might have found some production in its backcourt to help replace Derrick Marks.

  13. Quinn Cook’s senior speech at the Duke banquet is tremendous (VIDEO)

    May 4, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Quinn Cook had plenty of ups and downs at Duke and this senior speech caps it all off.

  14. Four-star Class of 2016 forward commits to San Diego State

    May 4, 2015, 7:55 PM EDT

    AP AP

    San Diego State landed a top-100 player in the 2016 class on Monday night.

  15. Report: Former Clemson guard Rod Hall has interest from multiple NFL teams; college football also an option

    May 4, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Former Clemson point guard Rod Hall has some decisions to make regarding his future in football.

  16. Four-star Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson will take a mission trip before playing college basketball

    May 4, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/adidas) (Kelly Kline/adidas)

    Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson is a unique recruit because of a two-year mission he plans on taking after high school.

  17. Former Kansas State guard ends up at Seton Hall

    May 4, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Seton Hall picked up a potential impact guard as a transfer.