It’s not very often that you see a mid-major conference get two teams into the NCAA Tournament, let alone one that doesn’t have to play in the First Four round. Every now and then, you get the rarity of seeing a mid major push two teams into the tournament, like the Ohio Valley Conference that sent both Wichita State and Northern Iowa last season.
For most of these mid-majors, the conference tournament becomes very important. You win the conference tournament, you automatically get a bid to the Big Dance.
For the smallest of mid-majors, that usually means you get slapped with a 15 or 16 seed and have to play the likes of Kentucky, Duke, or Wisconsin in the first round.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, or MAAC for short, announced that they would be changing the format of which their conference tournament is going to be played, according to MAACsports.com.
The announcement came Friday morning in a press release and affects both the men’s and women’s teams and is effective for the 2016 tournament.
The tournament now allows the top four teams in the conference to have an automatic bye into the quarterfinals. Before it was just the top two teams that received a bye, but conference expansion has forced them to widen the byes to four teams. The tournament will now begin on a Thursday and run through the following Monday and will be held at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York for the next two years.
The MAAC has had some success in the NCAA Tournament on the men’s side. Siena last won a game in the tournament in 2009 when they defeated Ohio State in the first round before narrowly falling to Louisville in the Round of 32.
Canisius is the only MAAC team to advance to the Elite Eight, last doing so in 1956.
The tournament changes may not bring about more wins in the NCAA Tournament for the MAAC, but it surely makes it easier for fans to see new teams get to the Big Dance. Who knows? This may be the year where we finally see a 16 seed beat a 1 seed and that team could be from the MAAC.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports