In case you missed it — and the hour-long Middle Tennessee infomercial that followed — the Blue Raiders made the NCAA tournament. The field was announced on Sunday afternoon.
The thinking was that the Blue Raiders might be hosed when they lost to an up-and-coming Florida International team in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
MTSU was 28-5 after the end of the conference tournament with wins over Ole Miss and Vanderbilt on its resume.
Still, the Blue Raiders are a Sun Belt team, and for a Sun Belt team that doesn’t win the conference tournament, it’s nearly impossible to get in.
One could make an argument that it couldn’t have played out much better for MTSU once it lost to FIU.
MTSU not only got in, it landed in a play-in/first-round game against St. Mary’s for a No. 11 seed and the right to play Memphis.
I could see MTSU winning that opening round game and at least having a shot at winning two games.
What made the whole scenario even better for MTSU was that it was the talk of the NCAA selection show. Dick Vitale defended MSTU, while Jay Bilas argued that MTSU should have been left out.
It all depends on your point of view, but I think the team from the non-power league should get a break, especially in a case like the Blue Raiders.
That’s the point. A lot of people probably felt that way and MTSU got a whole lot of publicity out of it, including a live look-in on ESPN when the Raiders came up on the bracket.
UNT was on ESPN a few years ago when it got in, and it certainly didn’t hurt the Mean Green’s cause.
In a side note, both the MTSU men and women are in this year after the Lady Raiders won the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
Granted, picking MTSU to win the women’s conference tournament or at least to make the NCAA field would have been kind of like going out on a limb and guessing that the new pope was going to be Catholic, but the point is still the same.
MTSU came out way ahead today, which is worth noting, especially since the Blue Raiders are coming to Conference USA with UNT.