Five teams that got shafted on Selection Sunday
Selection Sunday brought a rush of joy, excitement, and relief for 68 NCAA college basketball teams who eagerly waited to hear their names called out during the bracket reveal on national TV.
Unfortunately for a handful of March Madness hopefuls, their celebratory moment never came, as they were sent home with their dream of a Big Dance berth dashed by a 12-member selection committee who deemed their body of work unworthy of an at-large bid.
Now that the 2022 NCAA Tournament field has been set, let's look at five on-the-cusp teams that got shafted on Selection Sunday.
5. Oklahoma (18-15, 7-11 Big 12)
Porter Moser got off to a fast start in his first year as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, but the momentum quickly unraveled following a loss to then-No. 21 Texas on Jan. 11. That defeat sparked a calamitous spiral for the Sooners, who proceeded to lose their next three games and 10 of the next 12. Seven of those losses were to ranked opponents, including Kansas, Baylor, and Auburn, but the damage was apparently too great to the selection committee.
Oklahoma is the highest ranked team in the NET (39) and KenPom (30) to miss out on the NCAA Tourney this year. A win over Texas Tech would've most likely put them in, but I thought the Baylor win was enough.— Chuckie Kempf (@ChuckieKempf) March 14, 2022
Victories over Florida, Arkansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, and a 72-67 win against Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament were not enough to go dancing. Despite ranking 30th in the KenPom ratings, Oklahoma was one of the first four out of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
4. SMU (23-8, 13-4 AAC)
Upon first glance at SMU's schedule, it's difficult to understand why the Mustangs got snubbed. They defeated Dayton and Vanderbilt in December, beat then-No. 6 Houston in mid-February, and downed Memphis (who earned an eighth seed in the NCAA Tournament) twice in the regular season.
However, a loss to Memphis in the semifinal in the American Athletic Tournament was apparently their undoing. With the Tigers surging late in the season, along with teams like Virginia Tech and Indiana, SMU got edged out and is left waiting another year for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2017.
3. Dayton (23-9, 14-4 A-10)
Once this year's March Madness bracket had fully been unveiled on Selection Sunday, Dayton was notably listed as the first team out of the NCAA Tournament.
The First Four Out & designated replacement teams:— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 13, 2022
Oklahoma#SelectionSunday #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/n9RC0qODOQ
Selection committee Tom Burnett admitted that Richmond’s win over Davidson in the A-10 championship game sealed Dayton's fate.
While the Flyers achieved marquee wins against then-No. 4 Kansas, Virginia Tech, and Miami, they also suffered three straight losses back in November to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb, and Austin Peay — teams that ranked 248th or worse in the NET rankings.
The Flyers ranked 99th in strength of schedule and 67th in strength of record, and finished third in the A-10. An appearance in the conference tournament final might have banked Dayton a spot in the tourney. Instead, the Flyers are staring at a No. 1 seed in the NIT.
2. Texas A&M (23-12, 9-9 SEC)
Like Oklahoma, the Aggies hit a rough patch, from late January to mid-February, in which they lost eight straight, including a 64-58 defeat to Kentucky, a 76-73 overtime loss to Arkansas, and a six-point setback to LSU.
All but two of the teams that beat Texas A&M during that stretch are playing in the NCAA tourney, so the Aggies' downturn can be somewhat forgiven — especially since they recovered to win their final four regular-season games and upset Florida, Auburn, and Arkansas to reach the final of the SEC Tournament.
A 15-point loss to Tennessee in the conference championship game deflated the Aggies' chances at an NCAA Tournament bid. A 5-9 start in SEC play and a weak non-conference schedule overshadowed their late-season push, which is pretty unfair when you consider Rutgers made the tournament with a similar late run, but lost in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
1. Bellarmine (20-13, 11-5 ASUN)
In just their second season in Division I, the Bellarmine Knights won their first ASUN conference championship but failed to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament because of a head-scratching rule imposed by the NCAA.
"As far as we know, we've met every criteria that the NCAA and the ASUN has laid out in front of us... As far as we know, Bellarmine is not transitioning, we have arrived.#LetBellarminePlay pic.twitter.com/Nc1jCUfiPd— Bellarmine Men’s Basketball (@BUKnightsMBB) March 10, 2022
According to guidelines created by the governing body, teams that change divisions must undergo a four-year transition period in which they cannot compete for championships. The purpose of the rule is to prevent universities from easily jumping from one division to another. There are also different admission guidelines for Division I and Division II.
While the Knights knew the NCAA Tournament was out of reach, they did not know until after they won the ASUN championship that the NIT (also owned by the NCAA) was off the table too.
It hardly seems fair that Bellarmine, with a roster still mostly made up of D-II recruits, won't get to play in a high-profile tournament after they beat out other D-I teams. But it's rules like this that have earned the NCAA a less-than-stellar reputation.
With its March Madness snub, Bellarmine is the first men's basketball team in 25 seasons to win a conference tournament and not be eligible for the Big Dance. That day will not come until 2025, no matter how many more ASUN titles the Knights win before then.