COLUMN: Women's basketball deserves at-large NCAA bid regardless of tournament result
No matter what happens this week in Cleveland at the Mid-American conference tournament, the Central Michigan women's basketball team deserves an at-large spot in the NCAA tournament.
While an automatic bid comes from winning the conference tournament, the overall body of work displayed by CMU this year should be enough to punch their ticket.
CMU is currently the No. 21 ranked team in the nation, according to their rating percentage index (RPI). The Chippewas had three votes in the most recent Associated Press Poll.
Two of CMU's four losses have come from teams ranked in the top 40 in RPI, Buffalo (19) and Quinnipiac (37). The other two losses were to teams in the top 75.
Aside from the loss at Duquesne (RPI 73), CMU doesn't have a single bad loss this year. The Chippewas have fewer losses than 16 of the 25 ranked teams in the AP poll.
Very rarely does the MAC receive at-large bids, but this year may change that. Both Buffalo and CMU have had impressive seasons, and given the performance of each all year, it would be a crime to leave one of the two out.
Even head coach Sue Guevara believes the MAC should have more than one representative at the big dance this year, based on how strong the conference has been in the 2017-18 season.
"I don't think there's any doubt about it," Guevara said. "This year, our conference has been a dog fight. We've got some good teams. And this year, in my mind, should be the year that we're a multi-bid league."
For mid-major teams like CMU, conference tournaments are must-wins if dreams of playing in the NCAA tournament are to be fulfilled.
But with an outright MAC regular season title and a 26-4 overall record, what more does this team have to prove?