What is currently on a 19 game winning streak (Longest active in the nation), has a 7 foot beast named Zeke Marshall, and deserves to get an at-large birth to the NCAA Tournament? The Akron Zips (23-4, 13-0 MAC), that is who! Akron, who plays in the fairly weak MAC, have done enough to warrant a pair of dancing slippers regardless if they win their conference tournament or not.
The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee usually looks at a few things while determining who is worthy of those elusive slippers. Strength of schedule (Not necessarily conference), record, and they do care about stars. Granted, the Zips haven’t exactly played a ton of tough teams but they did just beat a very good Ohio Bobcats squad. On top of that they have Marshall, who is a legitimate NBA prospect. Also, they have 23 wins and counting.
There isn’t many things going against Akron outside of their perceived lack of schedule strength. But they have done everything a team can do, considering the players don’t make the schedule, win a lot of games. Akron still has three games left, assuming they are wins, and their conference tournament to play. Even if they were to get upset at some point in the MAC Tournament, Akron will be north of 25 wins on the season.
Many teams who play in “major” conferences are going to try to sneak in with 18 or so victories. While that is all fine and dandy, a team such as Akron, who have won all but four games, should not be overlooked because of the competition put in front of them. They have a legit roster, that will give teams legit problems if they were granted access to the tourney.
Here is to hoping that the NCAA, who suspended two Zips prior to the season for clerical errors, goes ahead and gives Akron a chance to cause some madness in March.
I have an unhealthy appetite for some Zeke Marshall. The only cure is some more Zeke Marshall. Let’s get this one right Selection Committee.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone