One of the big questions after the unveiling of the NCAA Tournament bracket every season is if the committee got it right when it comes to the bubble teams seeking at-large bids.
In our modern era of college basketball Bracketology — where everyone seems to be an expert when it comes to the ins and the outs of the field — it seems to be even more difficult to determine which teams should make it in.
Here’s a look at some of the bubble teams that missed the cut of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
SMU: After spending time in the top 25 the last few weeks of the season, Larry Brown’s Mustangs (23-9, 12-6) were expected by many to be a lock to enter the field of 68 on Sunday. But thanks to a first-round loss to Houston in the AAC Conference Tournament, SMU is on the outside looking in. So what was the undoing of a team that everyone thought would make the field? An RPI of 55 for SMU isn’t bad, but a strength of schedule at 303 in the non-conference portion of the slate might have done the Mustangs in. SMU had only four top-100 RPI wins on the season — UConn (2), Memphis and Cincinnati — and with two sub 150-RPI losses at Temple and at South Florida, the committee had plenty of ammunition to keep SMU out of the field.
California: The Golden Bears (19-13, 10-8) were hoping to be the seventh team to make the cut from the Pac 12, but they lost five of their last seven games to end the season. Cal looked like it would be dancing after a win over then-No. 1 Arizona, but the Bears only beat Washington State, Washington, USC and Colorado the rest of the season.
Florida State: The Seminoles (19-13, 9-9 ACC) started out 12-4 on the season with wins over VCU and UMass, but quickly sputtered as the ACC got the best of Leonard Hamilton’s team. After beating then-ranked UMass on December 22nd, the Seminoles didn’t beat a ranked opponent the rest of the season and had three opportunities to do so. Although Florida State defeated Maryland in the first round of the ACC Tournament, a loss to Virginia ultimately hurt the Seminoles, as a win over the No. 1 seed Cavaliers would have surely bolstered their résumé.
Green Bay: The mid-major darling of the at-large field, many fans and pundits were hoping the committee would let the Horizon League regular season champs into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. It didn’t happen for the Phoenix (24-6, 14-2) , as an overtime loss to Milwaukee in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals ended Green Bay’s NCAA Tournament hopes. It was the second loss of the season for Green Bay to Milwaukee, but the Phoenix still owned a home win over No. 1 seed and ACC champion Virginia and a respectable three-point loss to Wisconsin. Horizon League Player of the Year Keifer Sykes wasn’t healthy during the Horizon League Tournament, but the committee didn’t seem to notice that Green Bay was playing at less than full strength.
Georgetown: The Hoyas lost five of their last seven games down the stretch and ended the season at 17-14. It helped Georgetown’s resume that they had non-conference wins over Michigan State, Kansas State and VCU, but does anyone deserve to make the field if they lose to DePaul on a neutral court?
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers (20-13, 8-10) were hoping to make it seven teams from the Big Ten entering the field of 68, but after a poor showing against Wisconsin in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, Richard Pitino’s team won’t be dancing. Minnesota finished seventh in the Big Ten at 8-10 and their only two wins since a February 25th home win over Iowa were against Penn State.