The NCAA almost got it perfect.
Almost every team decision they made was totally and completely justifiable.
They left out Saint Mary’s, a 28-5 team out of the WCC that simply refuses to schedule anyone. They left out a USC team that, like Louisville, just did not have enough really good wins on their résumé to justify inclusion. They put the likes of UCLA, Oklahoma, Arizona State and St. Bonaventure into the field.
For the most part, I think the committee almost got all of the teams right.
Except for Syracuse.
The Orange, according to NCAA Selection Committee Chair Bruce Rasmussen, were the last team into the tournament field. They got in just ahead of Notre Dame, who was the team that got knocked out on Sunday morning by Davidson winning the Atlantic 10’s automatic bid.
And I’m sorry Syracuse fans, but I just don’t get the argument for this one. Syracuse had four Quadrant 1 wins — Clemson (11), Buffalo (25), at Miami (288) and at Louisville (38) and a 7-11 mark against the top two Quadrants with two Quadrant 3 losses. When compared with some of the teams that were left out, it just doesn’t make all that much sense to me.
Unless, of course, you’re the selection committee and you value things like the RPI and SOS. The Orange have a much, much better RPI than both Baylor and Oklahoma State (45 vs. 68 vs. 88). Their SOS is 16th. USC’s is 57th. Their best win is better than Middle Tennessee State’s. That’s where the logic has to lie.
And to be frank, I don’t think anyone here got “snubbed”. I do not pity Saint Mary’s at all. They were a tournament team last season returning a senior-laden lineup with an all-american at center and they scheduled no one and lost to Washington State, Georgia and San Francisco. Randy Bennett did this to himself again. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then Bennett is clinical.
INSTANT ANALYSIS: East | South | Midwest | West
Baylor lost 14 games. Oklahoma State won some impressive games — they swept Kansas! — but that RPI of 88 is tough to get around. That, combined with a non-conference SOS in the 290s cost them. It is what it is.
Middle Tennessee State lost a couple dumb games down the stretch. Louisville didn’t beat anyone in the top 50 of the RPI. Marquette is … whatever.
The only team that really has an argument to me is USC. Their RPI is 34. They had a top 60 non-conference SOS. They went 6-5 on the road, which included wins at Utah, at Oregon and at Colorado; anyone that follows the Pac-12 knows how hard it is to win at the mountain school. But their best wins were Middle Tennessee State and New Mexico State on a neutral court while they had that awful home loss to Princeton, albeit without a couple of role players.
So I get it.
I wouldn’t have gone that way myself, but no one on the bubble really has that strong of an argument. At the end of the day, the committee went with the résumé that had the least amount of horrible on it.
Here is how the bubble played out:
LAST FOUR IN: UCLA, St. Bonaventure, Arizona State, Syracuse
FIRST FOUR OUT: Notre Dame, Baylor, Saint Mary’s, USC
NEXT FOUR OUT: Marquette, Oklahoma State, Middle Tennessee, Louisville