In case you missed it, UNC beat Notre Dame on Sunday to win the ACC Championship. The Fighting Irish made a valiant comeback but fell short. The Tar Heels needed to win the ACC Championship to even remain eligible for the NCAA Tournament, and with back-to-back wins against SU and UND on the same weekend heading into the final weekend of the year, it’s hard to think that Carolina will be left out. If the ACC gets four teams in and the Big Ten gets five programs in, there will not be a lot of room for error for any other conference.
Keep in mind that at the time I am writing this, the new official RPI standings have not been released. Here’s how the tournament field could shake out, in no particular order:
America East – Albany Great Danes
Big East – Denver Pioneers
Big Ten – Maryland Terrapins
Colonial – Towson Tigers
Ivy – Yale Bulldogs
MAAC – Monmouth Hawks
NEC – Hobart Statesmen
Patriot – Loyola Greyhounds (already locked in)
SoCon – Richmond Spiders
At Large Bids
Johns Hopkins Blue Jays
Ohio State Buckeyes
Rutgers Scarlett Knights
Penn State Nittany Lions
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Duke Blue Devils
North Carolina Tar Heels
The NCAA took away the AQ for the ACC due to it being only a five member conference and then took away one play-in game for the 2017 postseason. Ultimately, this will most likely end up hurting every conference that is not the ACC or Big Ten. According to @laxfilmroom’s current, unofficial RPI results, all of the B10/ACC teams which will most likely make the tournament are within the top 12. Denver, Albany, and Towson are the only non-ACC/B10 teams in the top 12. The Conference that is likely to be hurt the most is the CAA. Towson is leading the CAA standings, but Hofstra could certainly win. The Tigers have a win over Johns Hopkins and an 8-4 record while Hofstra is 11-2 on the year after a 10-0 start. Whichever team does not win the AQ may very well be left out of the NCAAs.
Meanwhile in the Patriot League, Loyola demolished the Army Black Knights on Sunday for the Patriot League crown. Even though Army is 11-4 and has a win over Syracuse the Black Knights may miss the NCAAs.
If either Denver or Albany don’t win their respective conference championship, each would still make the tournament. First out, I think would be Rutgers, then North Carolina.
Pretty wild that each at-large bid could go to ACC/B10 Teams. Personally, I have to wonder if the NCAA is regretting not extending the AQ exemption to the ACC. If this is how things actually shake out, I have to think that the other conferences will lobby hard to give the ACC an exemption.