Busting Brackets

These teams were the biggest March Madness snubs on Selection Sunday

Every year there are about 20 teams that feel slighted on Selection Sunday, but very few actually deserve to feel snubbed. These three teams certainly have a case that they belonged in the NCAA Tournament.

 St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino
St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With multiple bid-stealers across conference tournament week, bubbles just kept bursting throughout the college basketball world. Duquesne nabbed a bid from the A10, Oregon shocked the Pac-12, NC State went through Duke and North Carolina for the ACC title, and that left plenty of teams on the outside of Selection Sunday, looking in. 

The conference that took the biggest blow was the Big East, which ended the day with just UConn, Marquette, and Creighton in the big dance, while Seton Hall, St. John’s Providence, and Villanova were left without a seat at the table. Richard Pitino may have even been responsible for taking his dad’s bid by leading New Mexico to the Mountain West crown. 

Still, the Johnnies were more than deserving of a spot in March Madness and may have been the biggest snub. 

. . 478. . . 1. 20-13 (11-9 Big East). Net: 32 Kenpom: 25. St. John's.

Rick Pitino’s team hit a lull in the middle of the Big East slate losing eight of 10 from January 13 to February 18, but after an impassioned postgame press conference, the Johnnies turned it around. St. John’s won their final five games of the regular season and knocked off Seton Hall in the Big East quarterfinals before dropping their semifinal matchup to the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, UConn. 

The Huskies are nearly unbeatable right now, but Pitino’s boys game Danny Hurley a game, falling 95-90. St. John’s is the highest-rated team by Kenpom at No. 25 to miss the tournament since Texas was 25th in 2019. 

With the roll that it is on, if St. John’s got into the tournaemnt, the Red Storm would have been a force to be reckoned with. 

. . . 28-6 (17-3 MVC). Net: 29 Kenpom: 45. 2. 2427. . . Indiana st

Indiana State is a classic case of peaking too early. Josh Schertz’s team would have been one of the most fun stories of the entire tournament, but instead Robbie Avila or “Cream Abdul-Jabbar” lost to Drake in the Missouri Valley Tournament final and were left in the committee’s “first four out.” 

The Sycamores have nearly a top-20 offense by efficiency and rely on an analytically driven threes and layups approach which yielded great returns. Indiana State climbed into the AP Top 25 for the first time since Larry Bird was a Sycamore in 1979, but two late-season losses, along with as many Quad 4 losses as Quad 1 wins doomed them. 

The committee often leans on the NCAA’s Net Rankings for seeding decisions, but the Sycamores finished 29th which is the highest-ever team to be excluded from the Tournament. There was certainly a case to be made for Indiana State to not just be in the tournament, but that the Sycamores could make a real run.

444. Net: 40 Kenpom: 40. . . 22-11 (12-8 ACC). . Pitt. . . 3

So if the Net is no longer the almighty source of power in college basketball, then the eye test should weigh more heavily. Yet, Virginia which finished 54th in the Net with a 2-7 record in Quad 1 games and was 349th in the country at 63.6 points per game, somehow got a nod over not just St. John’s and Indiana State, but Pitt, who beat UVA 74-63 in Charlottesville. 

Pitt only has itself to blame though for its exclusion, having scheduled an atrocious non-conference slate. 

Jeff Capel’s group was young and centered around Blake Hinson, who has never seen a shot that he didn’t like. With two of the best freshman guards in the country in Bub Carrington and Jaland Lowe, Pitt closed the regular season on a 9-2 stretch and played North Carolina tough in the ACC semifinals. This was a deserving tournament team and if nothing else would have been a lot more exciting to watch than Tony Bennett’s pack line.

Next. 10 surprise teams primed to steal the NCAA Tournament. 10 surprise teams primed to steal the NCAA Tournament. dark