The regular season is coming to a close, and there are a lot of teams across the country who are still fighting for an at large bid to the NCAA tournament. Some of these teams are mid-majors, some are from power conferences, and some from conferences in between the 2 (A-10, the Valley, and Mountain West). Sadly, there are no teams for the MAC that will make the NCAA tournament without winning it all in Cleveland, but you cant completely criticize this conference...
We as fans who want the best thing possible for out school and conference, often criticize because we only send one team to the dance, and really haven't had a legit shot at sending 2 in at least 5 years. We want to always have 20 win years, and always be in the hunt to make a splash when it actually counts. Then we holler and scream when our mediocrity does match up to schools who are able to come through some years, such as Cleveland State, Southern Illinois, George Mason, etc. Do I do the same thing? Absolutely I do. Id want nothing more than to see our school compete with the big boys, and be a really nice story throughout the year, and especially in march.
The reality is that its very hard for small conference schools like this to make a splash like this, and if you think about it, its usually only a one time thing. Usually a coach gets a few really good recruits, with he heart and passion to succeed at that level, and when they're juniors/seniors they make a splash, and the school get a lot of recognition. The for years after that, they do a little bit a better job with recruiting because of the name, but do they ever really hold onto that Cinderella title too long. Because of the name everyone thinks they're better than the rest, but those mid-major teams are usually at the same level as everyone else. Every year people talk about George Mason, but what have they done since then? Yea they're a good mid-major, but 16-12 is usually where they're around this time of year anyway.
Look at Cleveland State, they're so good this year that they drew Toledo in Bracket Busters.
Southern Illinois, they were a 5 seed in the tournament one year. Ever since then, mediocre. 15-12 this year, which is pretty much what they are every year.
Drake had their one special year. 13-16
Western Kentucky, 17-12.
The point is that Mid-Major Cinderellas are usually only a one time thing. Establishing long-term respect like schools such as Butler, and Gonzaga, is something that is extremely hard to come by. Other Mid-majors are only recognized by name, and usually get totally overrated because of their one time success. There are 347 D-1 schools in the country, and most of them come from outside the power 6 conferences (i guess power 8 or 9 for basketball).
Buffalo has had a few shaky years here and there, but since the Reggie era (minus the years the program was still on probation) the program as a whole has done very well. We as fans want Buffalo to get to the promise land (which is completely natural) but always expecting to do it is unfair to the program, and calling for Reggies head every year doesn't solve any problems. He was a Ball boy for the Bulls when he was a kid, dreaming to be a part of UB. He's been a Buffalonian his entire life, and is the perfect guy for the job. I too think he is in hot water, but people like him, in schools like ours, usually stay together for a very long time, despite not making the tournament.
The MAC conference is a hard place to compete, and always has been. A lot of great coaching has been through the conference, many of these coaches getting nationally recognized. It just sucks to see the conference always falter when they have their opportunities to beat a major school to give the conference some credit. Examples such as us vs #2 UCONN last year, and #2 Pitt a few years back, and this year with Miami losing to Kentucky at the buzzer, and Akron losing to Texas A&M. Right now the MAC is 16th out of 33 conferences in the RPI.
13th- West Coast
...and none of our conference wins have been against big time opponents. After the MAC conference comes what you would call 'everyone else'. This shows that as a conference were losing the big games, but always beating the teams that we should be beating, so there are very few bad loses. So the MAC is right at that point where the good mid-majors get really recognized, but as a conference as a whole were missing a few key wins. 7-5 in Bracket Busters yesterday isn't bad, but 8-4 probably would have put us just ahead of the MAAC in RPI since were only separated by a thousand of a point.
So how good is the MAC?
Well, this year isn't the year. Still missing a few key wins, and the bottom of the conference really brings us down.
This year, the MAC East was 26-10 against the MAC West, another domination performance like it is every year. The reason why it seems more even this year is because the Bulls went only 3-3. If we would have been playing better than complete shit ball during this time, who knows how bad the ratio would have been.
If the MAC wants to get the same recognition as conferences like the CAA and the Missouri Valley, we need to be better from top to bottom, and we have to pull off a few of those big upset that we always seem to blow.