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SMU, Florida State among top seeds in Postseason NIT

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2014 Postseason NIT Bracket

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.”

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: