Detroit had a chance to make a real statement about its NCAA Tournament qualifications this week. Unfortunately that statement ended up being a whimper instead of a shout.
The Titans lost Thursday to Temple, 83-78, missing out on another chance at a quality win, and maybe a mark in favor of them when it comes down to the nitty-gritty on Selection Sunday.
No one really has Detroit on the bubble though, and part of the reason is that the Titans have just a single Top-50 RPI win this season, that coming against Akron. Nothing against the Zips, but the common perception of Akron isn't going to be "big time win".
Detroit has struggled to get it done and that includes this past week. This week gave the Titans one of the best chances to improve that profile, with three games on the slate, two of them against teams that legitimately could be in the NCAA Tournament in a couple of weeks.
But Detroit lost to Wichita State by 15 in a game that was never in their favor. Then came a narrow escape from Loyola in conference, playing without two of its best players. All of that was wrapped up by the loss to the Owls, a real blow to any hope that Detroit might have had of being considered outside of an Horizon win.
And that is not a given, especially against Valparaiso. The Titans might have stolen one against the Crusaders, but the other game went in the opposite direction. Neither is bullet-proof enough to get to the finals of the conference tournament without a loss either. They should both reach the finals, but then it is a toss-up, one of those games where either team's weakness could come back to haunt them.
Here is the thing: Detroit has done really well this season in fighting against the storyline, the one that features a scandal that is sure to blow up more over the summer once the season settles down and all those reporters have some extra time on their hands. You don't get away with having an AD and an assistant coach having an alleged affair and then another assistant supposedly losing his job because of that affair without at least a little additional scrutiny, including at the head coaching level.
But the Titans haven't exactly overachieved as they might have, especially given the very strong return of Nick Minnerath from injury, and the continued strong play from Mid-Major 5 star Ray McCallum.
This was a team poised to earn some upsets. But games against Pittsburgh, Miami and Syracuse haven't exactly gone according to plan. And then there is that odd loss to Bowling Green early in the year, the killer "bad loss" that will certainly work against that singular top-50 victory.
Detroit really lost that opportunity, especially since the Titans were at least in the game against the Owls. This one is going to sting for a while.