Joe Sullivan | On college basketball

Akron, Illinois State, and Wichita State should be tournament teams

Akron's Kwan Cheatham Jr. (2) shoots over Creighton's Toby Hegner (32) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Kwan Cheatham Jr., right, of Akron.

It’s been a while since I’ve moaned about the so-called Power 5 conferences and how the NCAA tournament selection committee hands them all the at-large bids. OK, maybe not all of them but almost all of them. So now is the time to do a little proactive moaning. Or think of it as good advice for the committee. That’s right; I’m talking to you guys.

There are three non-Power 5 teams I think should be in the NCAAs even if they don’t win their own league tournaments: Akron of the Mid-American Conference, and Illinois State and Wichita State of the Missouri Valley Conference.

The Akron Zips are currently on a 12-game winning streak and are 9-0 in the MAC. They have a great big man combination in Kwan Cheatham and Isaiah Johnson. If they make the field of 68, they’re going to be a problem for someone. They have a challenge on Saturday playing at Ohio (CBSSN, noon). The trip to remote Athens is never easy and an upset is a possibility. The early starting time helps because the notorious student section might not be worked up. Even if they lose one or two MAC games, this team should be in the field.


Illinois State will probably lose its first MVC game of the season Saturday when they play at Wichita State (ESPN at 8 p.m.) but that shouldn’t matter either. The Redbirds have won 11 in a row. Unfortunately for them, their best win was at home against Wichita State. The non-conference schedule was not overwhelming. The eye test will have to do here. Check it out yourself.

Get Sports Headlines in your inbox:
The most recent sports headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Wichita State is young; all the key players are underclassmen. The Shockers will be formidable next season but they’re still really good this season and rapidly improving.

Other games I’d like to see this weekend.


Purdue at Maryland: Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan has had an All-American season, averaging 18.8 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game. His team is two games behind Maryland and Wisconsin in the Big 10 standings so the Boilermakers need this one. The Boilers have not played well on the road so it’s hard to know what to expect but I don’t think Maryland’s youthful squad can handle Swanigan.

Seton Hall at Georgetown: A recent surge by the Hoyas (victories over Creighton and Butler) does not bode well for the Hall which has to get some victories or its NCAA chances will fade away.

Georgia at South Carolina: Carolina’s only loss in its last nine games was at Kentucky. Georgia nearly beat Kentucky the other night but fell in overtime. Let’s face it, this is a tough stretch for the Bulldogs


Xavier at Creighton: Both teams have lost its starting point guard to ACL tears; the winner is the one that’s adapting better.

Arizona at Oregon: Oregon will win this home game and move into a first-place tie with the Wildcats in the Pac-12.

VCU at St. Bonaventure: The two most entertaining teams in the Atlantic 10. I’m rooting for a game in the 90s.

Notre Dame at North Carolina: The Irish were exposed by Duke the other night; there’s no way they can contend with the size of the Tar Heels.

Princeton at Harvard: This is a chance for Harvard to move into a first-place tie with the Tigers. I’m expecting it to happen. Still, this is a season when the Crimson are beatable in the Ivy League. That won’t be the case starting next season.


Kentucky at Florida: Coach Cal’s AAU team has not been playing well. The Playaz could have lost at home to Georgia. GEORGIA!!! Based on their recent play this is a dangerous game especially is point guard De’Aaron is still sidelined


Patriots vs. Falcons: New England by two touchdowns.

Joe Sullivan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan