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Rasor's Edge about getting the shaft

By mrasor Published: March 13, 2006

Men's basketball

John Chaney will not coach the Akron/Temple game tomorrow. It has nothing to do with his retirement. His wife is scheduled to undergo a medical procedure. I will preview the game tomorrow afternoon.

Here is the Rasor's Edge for Tuesday. You get it 12 hours before the general public...

It happened again. Akron got the shaft.

The Zips will play at Temple in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament today.

The key word is “at.” Akron’s Ratings Percentage Index is 69, according to Temple’s is 74.

Another key phrase is “first round.” Twenty-four of the 40 NIT teams get a first-round bye. Not Akron, despite the Zips’ 69 RPI, which is higher than 21 of the 40 teams.

According to the genius behind NCAA Bracketology Joe Lunardi, Akron should have received a bye.

When filling its bracket, the NIT Web site says the selection committee considers a team’s computer rankings, chronology, non-conference games, Division I results, home and away outcomes, last 10 games and head-to-head match-ups. In short, they rely on the same statistics that go into the RPI’s formula.

But the NIT committee also considers its members’ personal rankings. If you go based on RPI, Akron deserved either a four or five seed. For the Zips to fall to an eight seed, the six-member committee, solely comprised of former Division I coaches, must have disregarded the RPI, since the Zips have a higher RPI than the 13 teams that are above them.

This is just the latest of setbacks that Akron has faced while trying to advance its athletics programs from mediocrity to respectability.

• In 2004, Akron football was the only bowl-eligible team not to receive a bowl bid.

• In 2005, Akron basketball had one of the highest RPIs of teams that did not make the NCAA Tournament. Yet, the Zips did not even receive an invitation to play in the NIT.

• Last season, Akron men’s soccer was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the year. The only game the Zips lost was on the road to the defending national champion, Indiana. The NCAA Tournament selection committee still ranked the Zips as the No. 9 seed.

That forced the Zips to play on the road in the Round of 16 and Elite Eight. The Zips lost to the eventual national champion Maryland in double overtime in the Elite Eight.

An insider with the athletic department told me the seeding may also have caused coach Ken Lolla to resign and take a job at a bigger school because he wanted to compete for a national championship. Lolla likely believes that if he takes Louisville to the same height as he did with the Zips, a selection committee may be more generous.

As Zips fans, we must face it that Akron will continue to lack national respect. The reason is that Akron lacks tradition in most sports. Selection committees find it a much safer pick to give a better seeding to a team like Wake Forest, who is 17-16 and has the No. 85 RPI, but is an annual participant in the NCAA Tournament.

Will it change? I think so.

Several people in the know have told me that Akron’s football team has a good chance to receive a bowl bid next season if the Zips have a winning record, even if the Zips aren’t the Mid-American Conference Champions. That is mostly because of Akron’s fan support at the Motor City Bowl. The soccer team is sure to get more respect next season as well.

Until then, the Zips and their fans will have to be patient.

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