These teams were all on the bubble, but failed to make it into the field of 68.
There were some big upsets in conference tournaments and they took spots away from teams that deserved a nod. I was surprised a few times during the Selection Show, but I feel good about the field overall.
Did Indiana and Purdue do enough to get into the Big Dance?
Here is a list of bubble teams which had their bubble burst.
Miami Hurricanes (21-12) – Miami had every opportunity to improve their résumé in the ACC, but they struggled out of the gate. Their only marquee win was against Duke and they have a handful of bad losses to negate that win in every way. They were torched by Eastern Kentucky back in December by 28 points. Non-conference games play a big role and a bad loss in an early game can bite one in the ass.
Old Dominion Monarchs (24-7) – Old Dominion held their own in Conference USA and just faced a team they didn’t match up well against at the wrong time. Middle Tennessee beat ODU earlier in the season and then beat them again in the quarterfinal of their conference tournament. What hurts ODU is only having one marquee win and it came against VCU, who was ranked #14 at the time, but doesn’t look as ‘marquee’ now.
Murray State Racers (27-5) – Murray State went 16-0 against Ohio Valley teams in the regular season, but lost to Belmont by a point in the conference tournament final. Their non-conference schedule was extremely weak and they did not perform well on neutral sites early in the year. They do rank in the top-25 in many offensive categories in all of Division-I, but they didn’t face anyone of note all year.
Connecticut Huskies (20-14) – UConn will not repeat as NCAA Tournament champions this year. If the Big East were still around (aka the original teams), a team could make the NCAA Tournament with 13 losses, since they were playing the best teams on a nightly basis. They were unable to beat SMU in the American Conference tournament final and they went 1-2 against SMU in three games. An RPI ranking 67 wasn’t good enough to get an at-large bid.
Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (22-10) – Tulsa needed to beat UConn on Saturday to help out their cause. Their worst loss of the same came against Division-II Southeast Oklahoma State. The selection committee isn’t supposed to factor in wins/losses against D-II teams, but in a situation in which bubble teams are graded with razor-thin margins, it could come into play.
Temple Owls (23-10) – Temple had an RPI of 32, which should have been good enough to make the tournament. They are one of the best defensive teams in the nation, but their offense is well below average. They went 1-9 against the RPI top 50. That one win did come against Kansas, but they needed at least one more big win.
Central Michigan Chippewas (23-8) – CMU finished the regular season first in the MAC West. They needed to win the MAC Conference to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament. Their non-conference schedule is one of the worst of all the bubble teams.
North Carolina Central Eagles (25-7) – The Eagles went perfect during the regular season in the MEAC, but lost to Delaware State in the conference tournament final. Their RPI ranking is 128 and their bubble burst with the conference tournament loss.
Iona Gaels (26-8) – The Gaels have a decent résumé, but MAAC teams rarely get at-large bids. I believe they deserve a closer look, but they really needed to beat Manhattan in the MAAC tournament final. Iona’s up-tempo offense would have been fun to watch in the Big Dance.
Sam Houston State Bearkats (25-8) – They are in the same boat as Iona. Southland never gets two teams in the tournament. They needed to beat Stephen F. Austin in the Southland Conference tournament final. They lost to SFA in all three games they played this season.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (25-8) – Conference USA has turned into a weak mid-major conference. La Tech didn’t help their cause by scheduling a weak non-conference schedule. The C-USA conference tournament was a disaster for the top teams. UAB will be the only member of the conference representing C-USA after winning the tourney.
UC Davis Aggies (25-6) – UC Davis looked destined to win the Big West conference tourney and stamp their ticket to the Big Dance. They were tripped up in the tourney and in-state rival UC Irvine won the automatic bid.
Green Bay Phoenix (24-8) – Green Bay had a better record last season and still had their bubble burst during the NCAA Selection Show. It’s hard for Horizon teams to earn at-large bids, but they do get one every few seasons, so it’s not impossible. Green Bay needed to win the conference tourney to guarantee a spot, but they fell short.
St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers (24-8) – It would have been nice to see Jalen Cannon in the tourney, but SFNY lost to Robert Morris in the Northeast Conference tournament. SFNY had a remarkable regular season, but an RPI of 170 leaves them on the outside looking in.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.