Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports
Akron (RPI 49. 21-4 overall. 12-0 in MAC.)
Middle Tennessee (RPI 26. 23-4 overall. 15-1 in Sun Belt.)
Louisiana Tech (RPI 53. 23-3 overall. 14-0 in WAC.)
The teams playing their way out of the tournament are outnumbering the teams playing their way into the tournament. For every Cal and Villanova making a late-season surge, there are at least two Temples and Indiana States throwing away what could have been.
As such, it’s high time we start considering the at-large cases of some of these mid-majors that have rampaged through their respective conference seasons.
Call it the Murray State Corollary.
Last year, Murray State finished the regular season with a record of 28-1, and was the clear-cut favorite to win the OVC tourney. But bracket architects had to prepare for the possibility that the Racers would lose in the conference tournament, becoming a new addition to the at-large pool.
So what happens if Akron wins its final five regular season games but comes up short against Ohio in the MAC championship? Or, what if Middle Tennessee and its lofty RPI accumulate a 29-4 record before being upset in the Sun Belt finals?
It depends fairly heavily upon what the Virginias and Ole Misses of the world are able to do down the stretch.
Bracketologists and fans of bubble teams alike will be rooting vehemently for these three teams in their conference tournaments, because the alternative of having to decide between Louisiana Tech and Villanova would be controversial.