No. 25 SMU seemed to be a safe bet to wind up in the NCAA tournament, as they finished third in the American Athletic Conference and picked up four wins combined over No. 12 Cincinnati, No. 21 UConn (twice) and No. 19 Memphis. But the combination of a weak non-conference schedule and a loss to Houston in the quarterfinals of the American conference tournament resulted in the Mustangs missing the NCAA tournament.
Instead Larry Brown’s team will play in the Postseason NIT, with the Mustangs joining Minnesota, Florida State and St. John’s as one-seeds in the 32-team event.
SMU will open its tournament with a game against eight-seed and Big West regular season champion UC Irvine on Wednesday. The other three top seeds will begin play Tuesday, with St. John’s hosting Robert Morris, Florida State hosting FGCU and Minnesota hosting Big South regular season champ High Point.
Other first round match-ups of note include San Francisco hosting LSU (March 19), Missouri hosting Davidson (March 18), Green Bay hosting Belmont (March 18) and Georgetown hosting West Virginia (March 18). Of the 32 teams in the event 13 were automatic qualifiers by virtue of their winning regular season conference titles and that resulted in some brand name programs, such as Indiana and Marquette, being left out of the bracket.
“This may have been the most challenging selection process we’ve had since I joined this committee in 2006,” acting chair of the NIT Selection Committee Carroll Williams said in the release. “In addition to the 13 institutions which automatically qualified for the NIT and the 19 that we selected with the at-large spots available, there were many others that were worthy of strong consideration into our field.”