Sure, Carolina-Duke is Saturday night and there are a ton of bubble teams trying to get wins to get in.....but most drama starts next week when the major conferences begin their tournaments.
Well, before then, some of the smaller leagues are getting their tournys going....and they are just as important. To bubble teams, they don't want to see the boat rocked...so they wanna see Nevada win the WAC tournament.....and George Mason win the CAA tournament....and Gonzaga win the West Coast tournament. Because, if there are any upsets in there....that's bad news for those bubble teams, since one less spot will be available. On the flip side, there's nothing better than seeing a team get hot, especially one that has just been average [or worse] all year and still get a shot at the dance.
Ah, but not all of those "mid-major" conference are like that.
Enter the Missouri Valley Conference.
The MVC is unlike most of the other mid-majors. This LEAGUE is legit. Not just a team....or two teams...but more than half of their teams. And more than half could make the tournament.
On Thursday, Evansville and Indiana State won the "play-in" games to advance into the quarterfinals of the MVC tournament in St Louis. Awaiting them are Wichita State and Southern Illinois....two teams who believe they have excellent shots to get into the dance even if they don't win another game. The other two games see Northern Iowa face Missouri State.....and Creighton v Bradley. Three weeks ago, UNI was the hottest thing going. Last week, it was Missouri State. This week, it's Bradley.
Everybody but Wichita State still must play their way into the dance. All Southern Illinois must do is get by Evansville, which they should, to pretty much lock themselves in. The others have a bit or work to do....but the problem is that two of those bubble teams are guaranteed to lose tomorrow. The two that win should feel good about getting in with their victories. The two that lose better have faith in the selection committee.
Amazing that this conference can do this. They could get more bids than the ACC, Big XII or Pac-10. All six of these teams are in the top 45 in the RPI. Northern Iowa has smacked down Iowa and LSU. Missouri State hung tough at Arkansas. Wichita State lost at the horn at Illinois.
This could be a trend. With so many of the major conference bubble teams being a bit, well, flaky.....the mid-majors should rule. Most likely both George Mason and UNC-Wilmington [both members of the Colonial] will make the tournament....and Hofstra could as well.
Or how about stories like the Albany Great Danes, who have stunk for so long but could get into the dance if they win their America East conference tourny. And you know that one of these teams is gonna be a Cinderella in the Big Dance. Will it be IUPUI??? Lipscomb??? Kent State???
So, in preperation for the big conference dances....please take some time to enjoy these appetizers.