Wed. Apr 21st, 2021

D. RUSSO, AP by RALPH College sports writer

The economic downturn in college sports caused by the epidemic led Drake to eliminate his athletic budget, including a quarter of spending on men’s basketball.

Earning a bid for the NCAA tournament won’t drag Drake out of his financial hole, but helps every bit. Getting an additional team on the field for the Missouri Valley Conference could mean giving another $ 1.8 million for the league to distribute to its 10 members over the next six years.

This only raises the stakes for the Bulldogs in this weekend’s MVC tournament in St. Louis. Despite having one of the best seasons in school history, Drake (24-3) is no better than the bubble team according to bracketologists, one of the big six conferences in college basketball.

The wealthier conferences – ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and Big East – have been a trend for NCAA tournaments to enter valuable big-ticket bids since reunion through college games in the early 2010s Was swept away. A costly one for conferences that do not have billion-dollar television deals.

This epidemic-changing season has marginalized so-called mid-majors even more – and at a time when they can actually use cash.

The pandemic forced the association to reduce its revenue distribution to schools and conferences by $ 375 million as the NCAA tournament was canceled last year.

Drake Athletic Director Brian Hardin said, “Because of COVID and the distribution dollars down, we had to reduce all our budgets by 15-25% in Drake.” “How you travel and how you schedule has an impact. Now to sit on the bubble, you hate to think that you get punished for certain situations that are out of your control. “

As of Thursday, Drake was ranked 41st in the NCAA net rankings. The Bulldogs are the No. 2 seed in the MVC tournament and play Friday night after receiving a bye in the quarterfinal. Loyola-Chicago is the top-seed and NCAAS is considered close to a sure thing to earn a big bid if it doesn’t win MVC’s automatic bid.

If Drake stumbles into any position this weekend, the Bulldogs will opt out of selection on Sunday, March 14.

The net is not the final word when it comes to which teams make up the 68 field. There is a selection committee but its constituents give a glimpse of Drake and other mid-major bubble teams holding back.

Drake has played only six games, seen as the toughest opponents in the country, from teams of one and two.

In conferences such as the Big Ten and Big 12, most teams have faced more than twice with many rivals one and two.

Belmont earned a big NCAA bid out of the Ohio Valley Conference in 2019 and then won two tournament games. Along with Ja Morant’s Murray State team, the Bruins provided financial benefits to the OVC.

The Bruins are 24–3 this season, but because their original illegal schedule was erased, they did not play any one game. This leaves them with a top of 80 in the OVC semi-finals on Friday and there is almost no chance of a big NCAA bid.

“When we started the season most people were saying, ‘Oh, the committee has to do an eye test. Not going as a representative of the belt because you’re not going to all these illegal games,” Belmont E. Corley said. “Guess what? All those matrices support the Power Five.”

In the Mountain West, Commissioner Craig Thompson is hopeful that the conference’s top four teams will make the NCAA tournament, but may very well end up with just one.

It is nice to see San Diego State (NET 19) staring, but if the Aztec wins the Mountain West tournament that could leave Colorado State (NET 40), Boise State (NET 43) and Utah State (NET 47) off the field .

The Mountain West Conference would have sent two teams to the NCAA tournament last season, including two seeds as an expectation to San Diego State. Even a minor conference run by Aztec could have had a value of $ 2 million.

“This is an important year to get some of those units back,” Thompson said.

The Atlantic 10 typically holds multiple teams in the NCAA region. Last season, Dayton headed to the tournament as the No. 1 seed and Final Four favorites in the tournament.

This year the A-10 is in danger of having one league each.

St. Bonventure (NET 31), VCU (NET 35) and St. Louis (NET 43) can all enter the A-10 tournament this weekend. Neither of those teams played the full 27-game regular season, with neither the Bonnies nor the Billikens reaching the 20s.

A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGladay said she is not concerned about the NCAA tournament’s potential loss of revenue because it is a loss of risk.

“The residual effects of being in the NCAA Championships and March Madness are the benefits that really pay off after being in the institutions for many years,” McGladay said.

Hardik wondered if management was hurt to bring Drake’s NCAA case to all 27 games. The event was paused for three weeks due to COVID-19 issues, but the Bulldogs ended the season by playing 14 games in 33 days, including Shankuan Hemphill (leg), without injury, in 14 days in the final seven games. .

Hemphill is likely to return if Drake makes the NCAA tournament.

Hardin admitted that it would be an ants weekend in St. Louis.

“I hate being in a position where I’m watching the scores and cheering openly against other teams,” Hardin said. “But the bracketologist says that you find yourself in that situation.”

Ralph D. at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP. Follow Russo and listen at https://westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/

More AP College Football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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