Kent State, Akron snubbed by NIT; Toledo lone MAC rep

For once, Kent State and Akron have something in common – they’ve been snubbed.

Neither the Flashes nor the Zips were invited to the 2007 MasterCard National Invitation Tournament.

Both teams failed to win the Mid-American Conference Tournament, which comes with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, but since Akron led the MAC East Division and Kent State finished second (both teams also had a decent strength of schedule) an NIT appearance was not out of the question.

The Flashes (21-11, 12-4 MAC) went on the road in the O’Reilly ESPN BracketBuster game to beat George Mason, a team that went to the Final Four last season. Kent State also played three teams ranked in the top 25 this season: Ohio State, Butler and Duke. With the exception of their 81-59 loss at Ohio State, the Flashes lost by only eight points total at Butler and Duke.

The Zips (26-7, 13-3 MAC) were picked to win the MAC in a preseason poll. They beat Oral Roberts, who did make the NCAA tournament, also on the road earlier this season. Akron faced one ranked team, Nevada, which they lost to at home by two points.

Toledo will be the only MAC school that will be represented in the NIT. They received an automatic bid because they won the MAC regular season title.

After Friday’s loss to Akron, junior forward Mike Scott said the loss will strengthen the resolve of next season’s team.

“They see how it feels,” Scott said. “Sometimes you have to see how it feels to not want to feel it again. I think our guys are going to really learn and play harder next year.”

– Deanna Stevens