The goals of any team in Division I college basketball team are likely: A.) win your conference crown, B.) win your conference tournament crown, and C.) make it to the NCAA tournament. And that is in no particular order.
Unfortunately for our Miners, none of those goals were accomplished this season, but that doesn't mean the year wasn't a great success. All things considered, which we don't need to go over, this team was extremely resilient, and was able to turn what very well could've been a .500 year into a 23 win campaign.
In just a few short hours, that NCAA tournament committee will announce their selection for the tournament of tournaments, leaving the NIT to make their selections, and giving others like the CBI and CIT left to choose from what's left.
Of course for the Miners the NCAA tournament is all but out of the picture at this point, but hope should still be held out for other postseason opportunities, including the NIT. Most believe the Miners are a long shot for the nation's longest standing tourney, but that doesn't mean we're out.
Rumors have been swirling for days about the Miners potentially hosting a CBI game either Wednesday or Thursday, but our postseason fate, may lie in the fate of others. Let me explain, just give me a second; I'll get to it.
Conference USA has widely been considered a one bid league, and while most have Southern Miss right on the cut line, by most experts C-USA still remains just that, a one bid league. If the league is to only get tourney champ Tulsa into the field, the Miners would be left in a pool of four C-USA teams vying for an NIT bid.
Southern Miss beat the Miners twice, and again is right on the NCAA bubble line, so should be an absolute lock for the NIT. Louisiana Tech finished the season strong, including a sound win over Southern Miss and an appearance in the conference title game, giving them a solid case for the NIT.
This leaves UTEP and Middle Tennessee as the final two remaining with any hopes of making the NIT. The Blue Raiders definitely have a leg up on the Miners as they tied for the regular season league title, and also have a much better RPI at 62 (UTEP is currently 95), and a slightly better SOS.
The Miners, however, do own the head to head win, and that came in Murfreesboro. Its been noted that the NIT committee doesn't look to far into computer numbers, so would a head to head win be enough? Even if it is enough to get the nod over MTSU, the question still remains of whether or not C-USA would even get three teams in the field.
That is certainly not a given, even with three potential league winners left looking for a spot. But should they field three in the NIT, the Miners would certainly have to be in the conversation, especially because of their head to head wins over two of the other three. Which brings me to my next point, and the whole fate of others thing.
With Southern Miss in Conference USA's NIT pool, the Miners are sharing the water with three conference champs, and head to head wins won't exactly mean a ton because the whole we beat you, you beat them, they beat us things comes into play.
But, if Southern Miss is able to sneak into the NCAA, which is a real possibility, the Miners would be left as one of three, and would then own head to head wins over both of the others looking for a bid. It may still not be enough to get the Miners in, but it would definitely give them a much better chance.
Again, Louisiana Tech finished the season strong, and made it to the tourney finals, so they should be in pretty good shape to earn the invite. But, MTSU isn't in the same boat. They also finished the season fairly strong, but didn't make it out of the semis, and don't really have many quality wins.
If I had to put a percentage on the Miners' chances, I'd have to say that with Southern Miss left out of the NCAA's, there's probably a 10% chance or less the Miners will make the NIT. Should the Golden Eagles sneak in though, UTEP's chances increase greatly to probably 40% or 50%.
Whatever ends up happening today, it does seem that the Miners will find themselves in the postseason. At least Coach Floyd sure seemed to think so just a couple of days ago. Will that be in the NIT? Will that be in the CBI? We still don't know, but will be finding out pretty soon here.
For the heck of it, and because personally I think they are our biggest competitor in the race for an NIT bid, I leave you with a head to head resume comparison of the Miners and Middle Tennessee:
|Quality wins (RPI):||Tennessee (41), Louisiana Tech (59), MTSU (62)||Southern Miss (31), Akron (93)|
|Head to Head:||(W) 63-54 @ MTSU January 16th|
|Last 10 games:||6-4||8-2|
Wherever the Miners end up, make sure to take part in our Bracket Challenge on Yahoo for your chance to win prizes and bragging rights. Stay tuned to MinerRush for more information coming VERY SOON!
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