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Published: Monday, 2/27/2006

One and done still the rule for MAC selection

There's a myth out there that the Mid-American Conference will never again have more than one team invited to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

"We get no respect," MAC supporters say. "The MAC plays darned good basketball, but no one outside the MAC knows it."

So true. And so unfortunate.

For those of you who thought there would be at least one year in the early 21st century with more than one MAC team in the NCAA tournament, so far you're wrong.

The MAC continues to be overlooked and disrespected.

Based on recent history, the MAC probably needs a miracle to get more than one team in the 2006 NCAA tournament. The league's automatic bid goes to the winner of the conference tournament.

Rick Chryst: MAC commissioner Rick Chryst: MAC commissioner
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It will take a gift from above for the MAC to receive multiple NCAA invitations.

Nothing new there.

If only one MAC team advances to the NCAA tournament next month, it will mark the seventh consecutive year that only one MAC team has gotten in.

College basketball lives for Selection Sunday in March. It's the day when 65 teams are invited to the Big Dance.

It's also the day when the MAC is usually one and done.

Now, what do you think that MAC commissioner Rick Chryst thinks about his league being slighted? Do you think Chryst believes that the downward cycle will change?

Of course Chryst is concerned. Why shouldn't he be?

"Several years we thought we had deserving teams, and for whatever reason, it hasn't happened," Chryst said.

Chryst is preaching to the choir. He's singing this song hoping the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee that now includes Kent State director of athletics Laing Kennedy will hear it and join in.

"I really respect the committee and the work they do," Chryst said. "I certainly don't go in thinking it's Charlie Brown and Lucy. At the same time, we've got to find ways to better support our programs."

Chryst is trying to do the right thing. Starting next season, the MAC will reduce its number of conference games from 18 to 16 while adding two nonconference games to be played at home or neutral sites, the hope being a better nonconference schedule will carry more weight with the selection committee.

Chryst also hired Rick Boyages, a former assistant coach at Ohio State and Boston College, and put him in charge of men's basketball. Boyages is responsible for television, marketing and promoting the league.

"We need to bring a plan to our presidents that is comprehensive and informed," Chryst said.

A total of six MAC games are scheduled for national televi-sion this season on one of several ESPN channels, equaling last year's total. That includes the MAC tournament championship game on ESPN2 next month.

Chryst doesn't believe that a lack of national television exposure works against the MAC on Selection Sunday.

"I don't think if we're on television 20 times, we're going to automatically be in the tournament," Chryst said.

Yes, the MAC has a partnership with Fox Sports Net Ohio. And yes, it's great that MAC games are shown regionally. But more national TV games for MAC teams can only help the league.

And we all know the MAC needs all the help it can get.



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