Going into Sunday, most experts considered SMU a lock to make its first NCAA tournament in 20 years, even after losing to a mediocre University of Houston team in the opening round American Athletic Conference tourney. They beat four Top 25 teams, including a season sweep of UConn. They went 23-9. They are coached by Larry Brown.
They'll have to wait 'til next year. In what has been described variously as a snub, "surprising," a "miscarriage of justice" and, by SMU senior/Moody Coliseum lobster Ramon Trespalacios, "heartbreaking," the Mustangs weren't among the 68 teams picked Sunday to be in the running for a national title.
According to selection committee chair Ron Wellman, SMU's "glaring weakness" was strength of schedule.
"Their non-conference strength of schedule was ranked 302nd," he told reporters in a conference call Sunday night. "It was one of the worst non-conference strength of schedules. Their overall strength of schedule ranked 129. That would have been, by far, the worst at-large strength of schedule going into the tournament."
Never mind that SMU won three times as many games against top 25 RPI teams than either North Carolina State or BYU, both of whom sneaked into the tourney, of that it lost to an eventual No. 1 seed, Virginia, by just three.
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The real issue, highlighted in Brown's post-snub comments, is that the selection committee and the RPI rankings they rely upon are convinced that the AAC isn't very good.
When Louisville, the defending national champion with more than an outside shot at a repeat, is given a 4 seed, the rest of the conference is screwed.
Oh well. There's always the NIT, and there's always next year.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.