Griping has been a part of the NCAA tournament selection process pretty much since its inception. Didn’t matter if it was eight teams or the current field of 68, there have always been teams that felt slighted and left out after being left off the bracket.
This season was no exception.
When the NCAA’s selection committee unveiled the teams for this year’s tournament on Sunday, there were collective groans across the country from teams and their fans that didn’t get a golden ticket.
Here’s a few:
SMU: The Mustangs might have the best argument among the snubbed. They had a resurgence under 73-year-old Larry Brown in his return to college coaching, going 23-9 overall and 12-6 in the American Athletic Conference. On their resume are two wins over Connecticut, and splits with Memphis and Cincinnati, both NCAA tournament teams. The problem was SMU’s schedule. The Mustangs had a soft non-conference schedule and their overall strength of schedule was 129th – 38 higher than the worst team that made the field.
CALIFORNIA: The Bears got the Pac-12 season off to a great start, winning their first five games. A collapse at the end of the season cost them a spot in the dance. Cal lost nine of its last 14 games and went 3-7 to close out the home schedule. The Bears (19-13) have wins over Arizona, Stanford, Oregon and Colorado on their resume, but also lost to last-place USC and UC Santa Barbara. Cal could have gotten a big boost by making some noise in the Pac-12 tournament, but got bounced by fellow bubble team Colorado in the quarterfinals.
FLORIDA STATE: The Seminoles gave their bubble chances a boost with a last-second win over Maryland in the second round of the ACC tournament. It apparently popped with a loss to Virginia in the quarterfinals. Florida State finished the season 19-13 overall and went 9-9 in the ACC, but it wasn’t good enough for the selection committee. The Seminoles missed a huge opportunity by losing to stumbling Syracuse at home to end the regular season and have a loss to Miami on their resume with no jump-out-at-you wins to boost their rating.
WISCONSIN-GREEN BAY: NCAA selection committee chair Ron Wellman called the decision to leave Wisconsin-Green Bay out of the bracket a very difficult one. That’s not going to make the Phoenix feel any better after winning the Horizon League title and failing to get a bid. Wisconsin-Green Bay finished the season 24-6, but a loss to fifth-seeded Milwaukee in the conference tournament title game apparently killed its chances. Phoenix coach Brian Wardle hoped the selection committee would consider the impact injuries to Keifer Sykes and Alec Brown had in the loss to Milwaukee, but it did no good.
ARKANSAS: Two image-busting losses killed the Razorbacks. Still on the bubble, Arkansas closed out the regular season with a 25-point loss to Alabama and opened the SEC tournament by bowing out to South Carolina. That offset all the good the Razorbacks did in the weeks before, when they won six straight. Arkansas was hoping it first postseason appearance since 2008 would be in the NCAA tournament, but now it’s headed to the NIT to face Indiana State.
GEORGETOWN: The Hoyas entered the Big East tournament on the bubble. They were blown off it with an opening loss to DePaul, a last-place team that hadn’t beaten Georgetown since 1994. Georgetown had some good wins on its we-should-go docket, including Michigan State and Kansas State. On the other side, there was a loss to Northeastern in Puerto Rico and a 22-point loss to St. John’s, a team the Hoyas beat by 17 earlier in the season. Georgetown also killed itself on the eye test, losing five of its final seven games.