There's only room for 34 at-larges, so some teams have to get snubbed. Here's a look at this season's highest-profile omissions (in alphabetical order):Auburn (21-11, 10-6; RPI: 63; SOS; 59) pushed its way into the bubble fray with a 9-1 run before falling in the SEC semifinals. Like most SEC teams this season, they didn't really play anyone out of conference.
Creighton (26-7, 14-4; RPI: 40, SOS: 111) had won 11 straight games before getting blasted by Illinois State in the MVC semis. Ultimately, a share of the regular-season crown and a resounding win over Dayton wasn't enough. The Bluejays may have been the team squeezed out by USC.
Florida (23-10, 9-7; RPI: 52; SOS: 94) faded down the stretch for a second straight season and had its fate sealed when it lost to Auburn in the SEC quarterfinal. The Gators are another team that scheduled too soft in nonleague play. If you're going to do that, you need to distinguish yourself in league play, and Florida didn't.
New Mexico (21-11, 12-4; RPI: 66, SOS: 79) grabbed a share of the conference crown, but for only the second year in Mountain West history, a co-champ has been relegated to the NIT. The Lobos' biggest issues were the lack of a Top 100 road win and a lack of anything of substance in their nonleague slate. They beat BYU, Utah, SDSU and UNLV at home, but the conference only got two teams in, so those wins clearly didn't resonate with the committee.
Penn State (22-11, 10-8; RPI: 70; SOS: 119) was the only bubble team in the Big Ten to beat all three of the conference's top teams (winning at Michigan State and sweeping Illinois, to boot), but that was the entirety of its profile. The Nittany Lions were done in by a horrible nonconference schedule and the double-OT loss to Iowa in the season finale that cost them a two-seed in the league tournament.
Providence (19-13, 10-8; RPI: 72; SOS: 54) was hoping its 10-8 league mark in a conference that produced three No. 1 seeds was enough, but the quality of those wins was not. Provy beat up on the bottom of the conference and ended the season with just five Top 100 wins, despite an upset of Pitt.
Saint Mary's (24-6, 10-4; RPI: 48; SOS: 159) ultimately fell victim to Patty Mills' injury and the perception that the Gaels weren't the same team -- even with him back -- that they were before his broken hand. That's rough justice as the Gaels clearly looked like an NCAA team before that. A nationally televised beatdown by Gonzaga in the WCC was the telling blow.
San Diego State (21-9, 11-5; RPI: 35, SOS: 35) looked set after making beating BYU to make the MWC final and losing by just a bucket to Utah. A closer look at the Aztecs' profile though, reveals only a home win over Utah and a three-game sweep of UNLV, with nonleague losses to Arizona State, Arizona and Saint Mary's. This is still a very disappointing snub for the Mountain West in light of both Wisconsin AND Minnesota getting in.
South Carolina (21-9, 10-6; RPI: 58; RPI: 95) should have been golden with its 10-6 SEC mark -- a record that had been good enough for inclusion 100 percent of the time since the league split into divisions in the early 1990s. This wasn't a normal year, though, and the Gamecocks were unmasked by a bad nonconference slate and a resume that didn't have an RPI Top 50 win in it (almost impossible for a major-conference team with 10 league wins). That stat alone helps explain the SEC's bid woes this season.
Virginia Tech (18-14, 7-9; RPI: 61; SOS: 23) ultimately saw its dreams dashed at the hands of North Carolina (again) in the ACC tourney, but the Hokies ultimately missed the NCAAs because of a series of excruciating near-misses throughout the season. Who knows what would have been different had Xavier not beaten them with a half-court shot in Puerto Rico. They're the classic example of a good-looking team with a resume that wasn't good enough.
All records are Division I only, per NCAA selection committee rules. RPI and SOS data are from CollegeRPI.com.
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