Which Mid-Majors Hurt Their NCAA Tournament Chances In Week 16?
Mid-Majors Who Hurt Themselves in Week 16
With Selection Sunday only four weeks away, teams need all the victories they can pile up before D-Day arrives. For some, every game matters at this point. Others have a little more room to breathe. Either way, if there's anything the Tournament Selection Committee continually stresses, it's that the last 10 games of the season matters more than any other.
Some leagues are in a good position in that they have 4-5 games remaining on their schedules, giving them some time to make up ground and add some wins to their portfolio. Other teams have only a week left until their conference tournaments begin.
Regardless, the tournament bubble seems to get bigger and bigger every year, even now that 68 teams are invited instead of 64. That gives every game more weight, especially for the mid-major teams who often have to do more to make themselves look better than a major conference school with a similar resume.
Some of those teams stepped up to the plate this weekend, while others crashed and burned. Here's a look at some mid-majors who hurt their chances in Week 16.
Delaware Blue Hens (20-9, 12-2)
No team hurt themselves more this weekend than the Blue Hens, who came into Sunday's home game against a 14-12 Drexel team with an RPI of 63 and a two-game lead in the always-competitive Colonial Athletic Conference (the league that recently gave us Final Four teams VCU and George Mason). Instead, a four-point loss virtually guaranteed this would be a one-bid conference this year rather than two.
Indiana State Sycamores (21-7, 12-4)
The Sycamores simply didn't show up in the first half on Saturday at Missouri State, digging themselves an 11-point hole from which they couldn't recover. Second place behind undefeated Wichita State in the always-tough Missouri Valley Conference is nothing to sneeze at, but they're now just 5-3 in their last eight games, their RPI drops to 51 and they can only count a 14-14 Notre Dame team and Belmont as good wins. Hopefully this doesn't hurt their at-large chances too badly.
UTEP Miners (20-8, 10-3)
Sure, it was a tough road game at Southern Miss, but the Miners are clearly on the outside looking in at the moment in a battle with four teams for what I believe to be two spots being given out to Conference USA. With the Golden Eagles now in the driver's seat for one of those spots, El Paso needs all the wins they can get. They have three relatively easy games to close out the season, but with an RPI of only 86, they're now likely gonna need a run to the conference title game to have any chance.
UNLV Runnin' Rebels (17-10, 8-6)
They thought they'd won their absolute must-win game at Boise State, but it was taken away from them by video replay after the final buzzer had sounded. It was likely the killer blow to the Rebels' chances this season, handing them their 10th loss with a game against San Diego State still on the schedule. They were ahead of the Broncos most of the game, but couldn't hold on. That's their season in a nutshell.
Yale Bulldogs (14-10, 8-2)
Oh, dear Bulldogs, how could you?! Yale was tied with Harvard for first place in the Ivy League coming into their game at Columbia, but couldn't get the job done. They'll now have to sweep their last four games, including a home game against the Crimson, in order to win the conference's automatic berth. Of course, they did already beat Harvard on the road this season, but beating the same team twice is never easy, especially in such a rivalry game.