If you thought the 2015-16 college basketball season was crazy, we have news for you: You haven’t seen anything yet. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not here to bash on the regular season. Everything that’s gone down so far led us to this point — and we’re grateful for that. But we’re on the cusp of the big dance; so close to Cinderalla stories, bracket busters, and madness. Things are about to get nutty. And we can’t wait.
The NCAA tournament represents everything that is great about sports. It’s exciting, entertaining, and completely unpredictable. It features heartbreak and heroics, tension and drama. It showcases the ultimate David versus Goliath matchups, demonstrating that guts and grit can go a lot further than talent and pedigree. We love the NCAA tournament because we never know what’s going to happen. Unfortunately, while fans always enjoy the show, the same cannot be said for the participants.
In the end, a majority of teams will miss out on the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. And as you might expect, some of these clubs are much more deserving than others. This year was no exception. Therefore, as we sit on the precipice of this year’s dance, here’s a look at the teams that should’ve earned a spot, but ultimately fell short.
Despite being No. 42 in the BPI (Basketball Power Index) rankings, finishing with 26 victories, and falling No. 43 in ESPN’s strength of record metric, the Valparaiso Crusaders will not dance in 2016.
We guess going 0-1 against BPI top-50 teams, along with losing in overtime to Green Bay in the Horizon League semifinals, really cost them. Thus, we will not get to see a potential repeat of one of the greatest buzzer-beaters in tournament history. Such a shame.
2. San Diego State
The San Diego State Aztecs may have fallen to the Fresno State Bulldogs 68-63 in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) championship game, but we believe Steve Fisher and company should’ve received an at-large bid regardless.
Sure, the Aztecs only had a 1-3 record against RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) top-25 teams, however, this club still finished 25-9 on the year and went 16-2 in conference play — first in the MWC — during the regular season. We think they did enough to get into the big dance.
3. Saint Mary’s
What else could Saint Mary’s do? Seriously, we’re asking because we have no clue. The Gaels went 27-5 on the year, won the WCC (West Coast Conference) regular-season crown with a 15-3 mark, ranked No. 34 in ESPN’s strength of record metric, and were ranked No. 31 in the BPI.
If Saint Mary’s tourney exclusive was based solely on the fact that it lost to Gonzaga in the WCC final, well, then consider us stunned. Bubble team or not, Saint Mary’s earned a ticket to the big dance. End of story.
The Monmouth Hawks — and the team’s bench — were made for the madness. Unfortunately, despite going 27-7 (17-3 on conference player), while beating big-name programs such as UCLA, Notre Dame, USC, and Georgetown, the Hawks will not dance this time around.
In the end, this bubble team really needed to win its conference tournament, which it didn’t, falling to Iona in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title game. Still, we think this is a major snub. And we’re not alone.