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Regular season champs earn automatic bid to NCAA Tournament following MAC tourney cancellation


Central Michigan's Jahari Smith battles for the ball during a MAC Tournament quarterfinal at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio on March 11. 

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Following the cancellation of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher announced Thursday that the conference's regular season champions will earn the conference's automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament. 

Akron's men's team and Central Michigan's women's team will be in their respective NCAA Tournaments, assuming that the tournaments are still held amid concerns regarding COVID-19. 

The MAC announced Tuesday that it would hold its annual conference tournament with no general public in attendance, admitting only those necessary to the games and their coverage. 

Wednesday saw the women's quarterfinals play out, including top-seeded Central Michigan's loss to ninth-seeded Toledo. 

On Thursday, Steinbrecher announced the remainder of the men's and women's tournaments were canceled. 

All of the Power Five conferences as well as most of the other conferences in the country canceled their tournaments on Thursday.

Central Michigan finished the regular season 23-6, including a 16-2 mark in conference play, including a 15-0 stretch to open the conference season. 

The Chippewas boasted at least one regular-season win over every opponent in the conference and can claim the conference's Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Sixth Player of the Year. 

If the NCAA Tournament proceeds as scheduled, the Chippewas will be in the field of 64 teams competing for a title.