Biggest Snubs From March Madness

 

Biggest Snubs from March Madness

 

Another year, another March Madness is here. The madness of March refers to upsets, but I think it also refers to how mad people get when teams are snubbed from the tourney. Every year it seems like one bubble team who has no business being in the dance edges out a team we feel better deserves it. With that, the honorable list of snubs.

 

Honorable Mention: Middle Tennessee 24-7 (16-2, Conference-USA)

Middle Tennessee has been America’s cinderella team for the last two tournaments. Giddy Potts led the Blue Raiders past Michigan State and Minnesota in 2016 and 2017, but could never get out of the Round of 32. This year, Middle Tennessee won’t have a shot at escaping the round of 32.

What went wrong?

To be blunt, Middle Tennessee wasn’t all that impressive. They ranked 150th in points per game, 141st in assists per game, and 132nd in rebounds per game. Also, without any good wins, combined with an early exit in the Conference-USA tournament, Middle Tennessee didn’t wow the committee enough to get a bid without the conference title. When you combine a weak conference, no big wins, and no conference title, you get no bid in the dance. Sorry Giddy, but the committee got this one right.

 

Honorable Mention: Marquette 19-13 (9-9, Big East)

    Led by the backcourt duo of Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey, Marquette sported one of the best backcourts in the country. The two combined for 40.5 points a night, and each shot better than 39% from deep. While the backcourt shined, the frontcourt struggled on the glass. The Golden Eagles ranked 327th in the country in rebounds per game.

What went wrong?

    Marquette lacked good wins. They’re only win over a top-25 team came against #13 Seton Hall, and they were mediocre in Big East play. When playing Seton Hall, Providence, and Creighton, Marquette went 5-1, but against Butler, Xavier, and Villanova, they went 0-8. With those six teams ahead of them in the standings and all in the dance, they needed to do more to separate themselves. Plus with losses to St. John’s and DePaul, who went a combined 8-28 in conference play, Marquette didn’t do enough to secure a bid in March.

 

Now, let’s take a look at the top 5 snubs from March.

 

  1. Louisville 20-13 (9-9, ACC)

 

Louisville has been at the center of the scandal facing college basketball. They responded by posting a 20-13 record, while going a respectable 9-9 in conference play. The Cardinals are led by Forward Deng Adel with 15.4 points per game, and have seven players averaging 5 or more points per game. Louisville also boasts one of the deeper rotations in the country, with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per contest. As a team, Louisville shot 37% from deep, and averaged 76.2 points per game, while allowing 70.5 per game, good enough for 100th, and 130th nationally.

What went wrong?

Beating #23 Florida State was the Cardinals only win this season against a top 25 team. Coming out of the top heavy ACC, Louisville needed to make more noise to secure a bid. Finishing 9th in the ACC, Louisville went 2-8 against the top 8 teams, and the only two wins came against #7 Virginia Tech, and #8 Florida State. Also, with a 29 point loss to out of conference foe Kentucky, Louisville did little to book their ticket to the dance. Louisville beat the teams they were supposed to and lost to the teams they were supposed to; if you want to use that recipe, make sure to do it higher in the rankings.

 

  1. Baylor 18-14 (8-10, Big 12)

 

The Big 12 was one big hot mess this past season. Out of the 10 teams in the Big 12, 9 finished with a conference record of 8-10 or better. Baylor made a late season push for the tournament, upsetting #10 Kansas and #7 Texas Tech during a five game win streak from February 3rd-17th. Led by Senior Guard Manu Lecomte with 16 points per game, the Bears averaged 75 points per game and allowed 69.4. Baylor had no star players to lean on down the stretch, and used their depth to their advantage, with 6 players averaging at least 7 points.

 

What went wrong?

 

Baylor opened up conference play 2-9. The slow start included a loss to an Iowa State squad that finished the season 4-14 in the Big 12, and Baylor had to play catch up the rest of the season. With a win at Iowa State, Baylor would’ve finished 9-9, escaping the four way tie at 8-10. The Bears made it interesting late in the year, peeling off five straight and two wins over top ten teams, but an early exit to West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament, where they raced out to an 18-9 lead with 8 minutes left in the first half, and then looked uninspired as West Virginia easily regained control of the game, certainly did not wow the committee enough to earn a bid for the tourney.

 

  1. St. Mary’s 28-5 (16-2, WCC)

 

The Gaels play a very uptempo brand of basketball, and the game flows through center Jock Landale’s hands. Landale averaged 21 points and 10 boards this past season, shooting 64% percent from the floor. Guard Emmett Naar dished out 8 assists per game, which was good for second nationally. St. Mary’s is an athletic, run and gun team who can shot 40% from three as a team, and finished 28-5, all keys to earning a bid in March.

 

What went wrong?

 

St. Mary’s came into this season controlling their own destiny. St. Mary’s already got into the tournament as the number two team from the WCC last season, and with Gonzaga down, many, including myself, saw big things from this St. Mary’s squad. St. Mary’s came into the WCC tournament, and left. Just like that. St. Mary’s was upset by BYU in their first game of the tournament. If the Gaels wanted to make it into the dance, they needed a better out of conference resume to have the early exit from the WCC to BYU excused. With losses against Georgia and Washington State, and the only other noteworthy out of conference games against New Mexico and California, St. Mary’s did themselves no favors.

 

Finally, my top two snubs from this year’s tournament. These two teams are interchangeable, depending on what you value most out of teams. Honestly, both of these teams should be dancing right now.

 

  1. Oklahoma State 19-14 (8-10, Big 12)

 

Oklahoma State may be the hardest team to judge this year. The backcourt duo of Jeffrey Carroll and Kendall Smith combine for 28 points, 8 assists per game. The Cowboys have 6 players averaging at least 8 points, and 7 players play at least 20 minutes. As a team, the Cowboys shot 34% from deep, and averaged 13 turnovers per game. Playing in the Big 12 this season could’ve been a blessing or a curse, and the latter applied to Oklahoma State.

 

What went wrong?

 

The Big 12 is just too deep this season. Oklahoma State easily has the best resume of any bubble team, sweeping Kansas, owning wins over #6 Texas Tech, #18 West Virginia in Morgantown, upsetting then #4 Oklahoma, and then knocking that Sooner squad out of the Big 12 tourney in the first round. Oklahoma State owns 6 wins over top 25 teams, as they knocked off #19 Florida State as well. The problem is Oklahoma State got swept by Baylor, TCU, and Kansas State. To the committee, Oklahoma State was too inconsistent. The Big 12 was too deep for a team like Oklahoma State to secure itself a bid. With 5 quality wins in the conference, it was the middle of the pack teams that nipped Oklahoma State’s chances to go dancing.

 

 

1. USC   23-11 (12-6, Pac 12)

 

 

USC came into the season with high expectations, and the team delivered. Lead by star forward Chimezie Metu, the Trojans scored 77 points per game and allowed 70 per game. As a team, they shot 37% from behind the arc, and boasted a balanced scoring attack with four players scoring more than 11 points, and had nine players log at least 13 minutes per contest. Senior guard Jordan McLaughlin also played a big role, as he lead the team in minutes and finished the season averaging 12 points and 7.5 assists, which was good for third in the country. The Trojans finished second in the Pac 12, and lost in the Pac 12 Championship to Arizona.

 

What went wrong?

What did USC in was the lack of quality wins and quality opponents, and the weakness of the Pac 12. USC did not beat a team in the top 25; even worse, they only played two all season. They lost to #16 Texas A&M, and #13 Arizona in the regular season. This team suffered two bad losses against SMU and Princeton, but both were early in the year and neither should cost USC a bid. USC went to the conference championship game and lost to Arizona, which was no surprise. Finishing second in the regular season and in post season conference play in a power five conference should secure a bid.

It is hard to tell what the committee values this year. The top two snubs were polar opposite situations. Oklahoma State posted six very quality wins, but dropped games to middle of the pack teams. USC was more consistent, posted a very respectable 12-6 conference record, and made it to the Pac 12 championship game. UCLA got in over USC; is it because of head to head matchups that UCLA swept? If the committee values the head to head matchups, why is Oklahoma in over Oklahoma State? Oklahoma State beat the Sooners twice this season, including sending them packing in the Big 12 tournament. The Madness does not only mean upsets and buzzer beaters, but maddening decisions made by the selection committee. Maybe on year we can all agree they got it right. This year however, is not that year. Maybe they will get it right next year.

 

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