Every year, fans gripe when their teams don’t make the N.C.A.A. tournament, sometimes for good reason. If you are looking for snubs, start with the first four teams left out of the field: Baylor, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Southern California.
During the selection broadcast, Bruce Rasmussen, Creighton’s athletic director, who served as the selection committee’s chairman, confirmed that Davidson’s win over Rhode Island on Sunday knocked Notre Dame out of the tournament.
Here’s a look at the top four snubs:
The Bears lost four of their last five games and looked overmatched in a 13-point loss to West Virginia in the Big 12 Conference tournament quarterfinals. And while you could make a case for their potential — they beat Kansas and Texas Tech, as well as bubble teams Oklahoma and Texas — they finished with an RPI of 66, were 2-9 away from home, and played a weak nonconference schedule. For all these reasons, Baylor missed the tournament for the first time in five years.
If only they had more time. Notre Dame looked like a sleeper last week in the A.C.C. tournament and a team that could make noise in the N.C.A.A. tournament. The key? Forward Bonzie Colson, the preseason A.C.C. player of the year, was back after missing 15 games. With him on the court, the Irish were 14-5, ranked as high as fifth in the nation. Unfortunately, without him, they lost to teams like Georgia Tech amid a seven-game losing streak. They finished 1-7 against ranked teams. Ultimately, the committee was not impressed enough with the Irish’s total résumé.
Yes, they beat Gonzaga. And, yes, KenPom had them ranked 28th, ahead of eight other N.C.A.A. tournament teams. But the committee saw no quality wins outside the Bulldogs upset, and their strength of schedule was 166.
“Of their 28 wins, all but four were against teams in the last two quadrants,” Rasmussen said, referring to the new terminology to better evaluate road and neutral-court wins. Despite boasting one of the most efficient offenses in the country, the Gaels will be playing in the N.I.T. again.
This one will be tough to swallow: The Trojans had the highest R.P.I. (34) of any team that has missed the N.C.A.A. tournament since it expanded to 68 teams in 2011. They had 11 wins against the top two quadrants, and a strong strength of schedule. But the committee felt that they did not have enough wins against tournament-caliber teams, going 0-8 against Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and U.C.L.A.
As it happens, U.S.C., along with Louisville and Oklahoma State who were also snubbed, is embroiled in the F.B.I. probe into corruption among basketball programs.