AP  -- The wealthiest conferences hoarding valuable at-large bids to the NCAA men's basketball tournament has been a trend since the early 2010s. A costly one for the other conferences that don't have billion-dollar television deals. This pandemic-altered season seems to have marginalized the so-called mid-majors even more — and at a time when they can really use the cash.

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Take Drake from the Missouri Valley Conference. The school has had to slash its basketball budget by 25% this season. Earning a bid the tournament won't pull the program out if its financial hole, but every little bit helps. Still, despite a 24-3 record the Bulldogs are no better than a bubble team heading into conference tournament play.

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