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The Talon

The Talon

March Madness Snubs: Five teams that should have made the NCAA Tournament

Image from Seton Hall Men’s Basketball Twitter 3/7/24

Every year, there are always teams that are deserving of a NCAA tournament bid that do not receive one. This year’s bracket was especially not kind, as the mass chaos in the conference tournaments led to a total of five bids that were stolen by unexpected champions. There are many other factors that were more closely looked at this year by the NCAA committee such as NET and KenPom rankings. These rankings focused more on the analytics and metrics associated with the sport, rather than the eye test.

     1. Indiana State (28-6, 17-3, NET: 29, KenPom 45)

  • Q1: 1-4, Q2: 4-1, Q3: 10-0 Q4: 12-1
  • Significant wins: Drake, Bradley (2)
  • Bad losses: Illinois State, Southern Illinois 

Indiana State accumulated 28 wins, the most by any team in the bubble. Along with this, they had a 15-5 away record and were 5-5 against quad 1 and quad 2 teams. Their rankings in the NCAA committee’s metrics were great throughout. On paper, this would be a resume worthy of an NCAA tournament bid. The one striking flaw in Indiana State’s resume was that they barely beat any teams in the NCAA tournament field. Although they managed to defeat Drake once, they lost the other two games they played against them. In addition, the Sycamore’s lost in their only two power-conference opponents they faced, losing to Alabama and Michigan State. Despite the flaws, Indiana State set a record for having the highest ranking in NET (29) and being left out of the NCAA tournament.

     2. Seton Hall (20-12, 13-7, NET: 67, KenPom: 63)

  • Q1: 5-8, Q2: 4-3, Q3: 2-1, Q4: 9-0
  • Significant wins: Uconn, Marquette, Providence, St. Johns (2)
  • Bad losses: USC, Rutgers

Even in the tough Big East, the Pirates played well in conference play, finishing 4th in the conference with a record of 13-7. The Hall amassed five Quad 1 wins including marquee wins against UConn and Marquette. Committee Chair Charles McClelland’s primary reasoning for leaving Seton Hall out of the dance was due to the injury UConn center Donavon Clingan suffered in their win against the Huskies. Although Seton Hall was leading by 4 points at the time of the injury, and ended up winning the game by 15, the committee claimed that was enough reasoning to devalue the win over the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. What ultimately hurt Seton Hall’s chances of receiving an NCAA bid was their NET and KenPom rankings. The Pirate’s metrics were hurt by losses to weak teams such as USC and Rutgers along with losing several games by 15+ points.

     3. Providence (21-13, 10-10, NET: 57, KenPom: 53)

  • Q1: 6-9, Q2: 3-4, Q3: 1-0, Q4: 11-0
  • Significant wins: Creighton (2), Marquette, Wisconsin, Seton Hall, St. John’s
  • Bad losses: Xavier

Despite amassing six Qad 1 wins and suffering no very bad losses, Providence was left out of the NCAA tournament. The Friars managed to sweep Creighton and accumulate wins against Marquette and Wisconsin, who are all top five seeds in the tournament. Not to mention, Providence was missing one of their key starters for the majority of the season in Bryce Hopkins. Although the Friars racked up some really impressive wins, more than half of their victories were against teams in Quadrant 4. Because their non-conference schedule was not as strong compared to others, the Friar’s NET and KenPom rankings were too low and was likely the reason they did not get in the tournament.

     4. Pittsburgh (22-11, 12-8, NET: 40, KenPom:41)

  • Q1: 4-6. Q2: 5-3, Q3: 6-2, Q4: 7-0
  • Significant wins: Duke, NC State (2), Virginia
  • Bad losses: Missouri, Miami FL, Syracuse (2)

Pittsburgh finished the season with a record of 22-11 and a NET ranking of 40, and was definitely worthy of a bid into the NCAA tournament. Pitt collected quality wins against Duke, Virginia, and managed to sweep an impressive NC State team.  Although the metrics were kind to Pitt, their lack of competition in non-conference play was likely why they did not make the tournament. In the end, the committee were not too fond of a team that played against the NET’s 343rd -ranked non-conference strength of schedule.

     5. Oklahoma (20-12, 8-10, NET: 46, KenPom: 44)

  • Q1: 4-12, Q2: 5-0, Q3: 3-0, Q4: 8-0
  • Significant wins: Iowa State, BYU, Providence
  • Bad losses: UCF

Even in the biggest and toughest division in college basketball, the Sooners did not win enough to make the NCAA tournament. With a positive NET ranking and notable wins against Iowa State, BYU, and Providence, Oklahoma had a sharp tournament resume. But with only a 4-12 record in Quad 1 games, the Sooners lack of marquee wins is likely what kept them from dancing. At the end of the day, Oklahoma was a victim of one of the five bid thieves from this year’s conference tournaments, as they were the first team out of the dance.

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About the Contributor
Aiden Clauburg
Aiden Clauburg, Junior Sports Editor
Aiden Clauburg is a second-year communications and journalism student and a member of the Class of 2025. He is a member of the boys soccer team. He enjoys watching sports, especially the New York Mets and the Green Bay Packers.