Every year we can pick apart the bracket and say this should have happened, or that should have happened. The truth of the matter is, at the top, all the teams are good and at the bottom all the teams are not so good, so what separates them might just be how the committee feels that day. For each team, I'll try to make case for why they should have been treated differently, and why the committee treated them as they did.
- Why they were snubbed - 27-5 and regular season champs of the always solid West Coast Conference, the Gaels were squarely on the bubble but I think should have been in. The swept Gonzaga in the regular season but lost to them in the finals of the conference tournament. They were 7-3 on the road including a loss to Cal.
- Why the committee got it right - You can't lose at home to Pepperdine. When your schedule doesn't include a ton of opportunities for quality wins, you have to take care of the cupcakes (no offense Pepperdine). 2-2 against the RPI top 50, and only one Kenpom A game win, and it's not a shock that the Gaels are NIT bound.
- Why they were snubbed - How is it that an SEC team can go 23-8 and be left out of the NCAA Tournament, especially in a year where 7 loss teams are getting one seeds. The Gamecocks were a surprise of the non-conference going 12-0 and then once the SEC season started registered one of the better wins of any team in the SEC when they won at Texas A&M in early February. They also own wins over fellow bubble teams Vanderbilt and Tulsa.
- Why the committee got it right - Maybe that 12-0 start could be chalked up to the 271st ranked non-conference strength of schedule. One and one against the RPI top 50, and three sub 100 losses (including a horrible loss to number 223 Missouri) just isn't the mark of a tournament team.
San Diego State
- Why they were snubbed - The Aztecs under Steve Fisher always have a solid defense, and this year is no different. Ranked number 2 in adjusted defense by Kenpom, San Diego State is left out despite an RPI of 41 and a 43 ranking by Kenpom. A neutral court win over Cal is very solid as is a 9-2 overall road mark.
- Why the committee got it right - Unlike other teams from non-power conferences, the Aztecs had their opportunities to make statement wins, but didn't get the job done as 1-4 against the RPI top 50 was all they could muster. Then there are the losses. An early December loss to RPI 302 San Diego was their ultimate undoing.
- Why they were snubbed - Of all the teams that have been considered in the last four in, first four out, Monmouth has the most wins in Kenpom "A" games going 5-1. They were the darlings of the early season, and you have to give them credit for going on the road and taking down UCLA and Georgetown when we thought those teams were good. Neutral wins over Notre Dame and USC also bolster their resume.
- Why the committee got it right - With wins as good as those mentioned, losses to Army (214), Canisius (221), and Manhattan (231) are inexcusable. In conferences like the Metro Athletic, a 17-4 record just isn't going to be enough.
This year as much as any, teams don't really have any excuses for not making the NCAA tournament. Whether it's a bog conference school who plays a bunch of quality teams and only beats one or two of them, or it's a little guy who has a gaudy record but no quality wins to speak of (and generally a few really, really bad losses) there is always something that you can point to as the reason why they aren't in.