The Field of 68 has been set but not everyone can go dancing. These five teams were the biggest March Madness snubs in the NCAA Tournament.
Trying to pick the 68 best teams in the country is never an easy assignment for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
Which teams had the biggest gripes with being left out of the field?
Let’s break down the five biggest snubs from the field of 68 by starting with a team that played itself out of the bracket in Xavier.
5. Biggest March Madness snubs – Xavier Musketeers
If you told a Xavier fan in mid-January that the Musketeers would miss the tournament they would look at you like you had four heads. At that point, the Musketeers were 14-3 with a win over Ohio State and looked like they would sail to a single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.
That all came undone as the Musketeers went 4-10 down the stretch, a pitiful performance that included a loss to DePaul and a sweep at the hands of St. John’s. The final nail in the coffin for Xavier came in the Big East Tournament, where they lost their first game to Butler to ultimately play themselves out of the field.
Despite having a respectable NET of 41 the selection committee didn’t even have Xavier as one of the first four teams out of the field. The Musketeers will be an example of how important it is to finish the season strong if you want to earn an at-large bid.
4. Biggest March Madness snubs – Oklahoma Sooners
The meat-grinder that is the Big 12 swallowed a few potential tournament teams this year and Oklahoma came the closest to making the field from the three eligible teams that got left out. The NET’s 40th ranked team, the big issue that the Sooners ran into is that they simply accumulated too many losses over the course of the season.
Oklahoma’s 15th loss came in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament by a point against Texas Tech, which ended up as a No. 3 seed in the West Region. That loss came one day after the Sooners kept their hopes alive with a win over Baylor, which ended up getting a No. 1 seed from the selection committee.
A deeper dive into Oklahoma’s team sheet reveals a 4-12 record against Quadrant 1 opponents, which was simply too big a hole for the committee to ignore. The difference between the Sooners and Michigan, which got in as an 11-seed despite a 17-14 record, is that the Wolverines played one of the most difficult schedules in the country.
Porter Moser will undoubtedly agonize over the final sequence of the Texas Tech loss since there is a good chance that win would have been enough to get the Sooners into the field. Leaving Kansas City without it left Oklahoma vulnerable to getting left out of the dance.
3. Biggest March Madness Snubs – Texas A&M Aggies
Perhaps the biggest thrill ride from Championship Week came out of Tampa where Texas A&M made a stunning late push for the field. After toppling fellow bubbler Florida in overtime on Thursday, the Aggies upset top-seeded Auburn and blew out No. 4 seed Arkansas to earn a date in the final against Tennessee on Sunday afternoon.
The Volunteers ended up blowing out Texas A&M but many bracketologists felt that the Aggies’ work in Tampa was enough to push them into the field. That wasn’t the case and there are a few reasons why the committee didn’t think Buzz Williams’ team did enough to earn an at-large bid.
A 4-9 record in Quadrant 1 game certainly hurt the Aggies, especially since two of those wins only came this week. An eight-game losing streak in the middle of the season is also tough to overlook with two of those defeats coming at home against South Carolina (not great) and Missouri (yikes).
This selection committee wasn’t going to be impressed by a conference tournament surge as evidenced by the fact that Virginia Tech, which won a weaker conference with better metrics than Texas A&M, only got an 11-seed for winning the ACC Tournament. The Hokies likely would have been left out if they didn’t win on Saturday so we can’t be shocked that the Aggies were left behind.
2. Biggest March Madness Snubs – SMU Mustangs
There may not have been a more bubbly team this season than SMU, which pretty much floated between Last Four in and First Four Out status for weeks. The Mustangs also fell into that low-40s NET ranking that each of the previous three teams listed earned, but there were numerous issues with SMU’s resume.
This selection committee emphasized quality wins as a factor dating back to the Top 16 seed reveal a few weeks ago and SMU did not have many of those. The three best wins on SMU’s resume came in conference play as they swept Memphis during the regular season and won at home against Houston, giving them a 3-1 record against the American’s two NCAA Tournament teams.
The issue for SMU comes from the fact that they only posted a 2-2 record in Quadrant 1 games, an issue largely of their own making for assembling a bad non-conference schedule. The Mustangs’ best non-conference win came against fellow bubbler Dayton as part of the 209th-rated non-conference strength of schedule.
In the end, it looked like SMU needed to find a way to beat Memphis for a third time to get into the field, which isn’t necessarily fair but is a bed the Mustangs made with poor scheduling choices. The shrinking bubble also didn’t help SMU as Virginia Tech’s win likely knocked them out of the field.
1. Biggest March Madness Snubs – Dayton Flyers
If there is one mistake that the selection committee made in terms of teams getting into the field it came at the expense of Dayton. The March Madness selection show revealed that Dayton was the first team out of the field, getting bumped earlier today when Richmond stole the A-10’s automatic bid by beating Davidson.
This is a tough break for the Flyers, who lost to the Spiders yesterday when star guard Malachi Smith got hurt with 17 minutes to go. Smith’s absence led to a collapse from Dayton, which lost by four to give Richmond a shot to take their bid away.
The worst part of Dayton’s resume was a brutal stretch in November where they lost three straight Quadrant 4 games at home in the non-conference schedule, which undoubtedly put the Flyers as close to the cut line as they were. Dayton did have the ability to make up for it with a slew of quality wins, including a neutral-site victory over Kansas in November, a win over Virginia Tech in non-conference play and a key win over Davidson to end the regular season.
There is a strong argument to be made that Dayton should have gotten in ahead of Notre Dame, which was 2-8 in Quadrant 1 games and feasted on a bad ACC to stack up a ton of empty-calorie wins. Flyers fans can rightfully argue that their team got hosed but that can often happen to a mid-major school in March.
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