Middle Tennessee confident
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis isn’t thinking about Sunday.
The 30-year veteran coach is preparing his team for an NCAA tournament opening-round game in Dayton or “wherever we get seeded.”
But Davis’ veteran-laden team is very much on the bubble after its nation-leading 17-game winning streak was snapped Sunday night. The Blue Raiders have the potential to be the most controversial team discussed on Selection Sunday — whether they are left out of the bracket or placed in it.
The Blue Raiders have left their fate to the NCAA tournament selection committee’s process after a 61-57 loss to Florida International in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament — giving Davis and his players an entire week of waiting to hear “Middle Tennessee” roll off Greg Gumbel’s tongue when announcing the field of 68.
Davis said there’s little hair-pulling, because he thinks his team’s invitation to the Big Dance is a “no-brainer.”
“I’m disappointed with our conference tournament loss, but there’s really no anxiety whatsoever,” Davis told USA TODAY Sports by phone Tuesday afternoon. “Based on what we’ve done and what the NCAA (tournament selection) committee’s habits are, there’s no question we should get in. Before Sunday, we had the longest winning streak in the country. We’ve done everything we’re asked to do at the mid-major level — scheduling in the non-conference and playing tough teams outside of (the Sun Belt) conference.”
Research by MTSU found no team with 28 or more Division I wins has been left out of the tournament, and one team with ﬁve or fewer losses (Coastal Carolina in 2011) has been left out.
If the Blue Raiders make the NCAAs, Davis believes his team has the right recipe to make a run with “one of the most experienced and deep teams in the country.”
At first glance, Middle Tennessee’s résumé looks worthy of an at-large bid, with a 28-5 record, a No. 11 non-conference strength of schedule and RPI of 29. No team with 28 or more wins has been left out of the tournament, and only one team with … [For more on Bubble team Middle Tennessee confident for Selection Sunday, click here.]