The Belmont Bruins have dominated regular seasons like few other programs over the past decade, but once again they will have to settle for an NIT bid after falling in their conference tournament. It seems unfair, and to an extent, it is.
Belmont went 22-6 overall, including a 15-1 record in the Ohio Valley Conference. However, for the second consecutive season, they lost in the semifinals of the OVC tournament.
In conversation with Mid-Major Madness, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas explained why Belmont, and by extension other mid-majors, shouldn’t hold out hope for a surprising invite on Selection Sunday.
His full explanation can be heard here, with the transcript below.
I don't think they have a chance. And I mean I don't mean to say that flippantly. But just their numbers aren't going to be able to put them in the conversation. They're just going to be too far outside.
If you're outside of the top 60 or so in the RPI, and even in the analytics Belmont is not in the top 75 of any of the analytics. So if you went to KenPom they wouldn't be ranked in the top 75.
Sometimes the committee looks at those things more now. All of the data is organized by RPI which I think is a horrendous mistake on their part. But all of it is organized by the RPI.
They do look at other analytics but those don't favor Belmont either.
I think Belmont is very good. Evan Bradds is a great player. They're very good. And they're extraordinarily well-coached. Rick Byrd one of the best coaches in the country.
But it's just math. When you have 351 Division One teams, how are you going to kind of shoehorn so many mid-majors into 36 at-large spots? It's just not going to happen.
It's not a question of favoring mediocre major teams. That's not the issue. The issue is like there's no way for all these teams to get quality games during the course of a season. They can't do it.
And you can't ask the 70 or so major conference teams and then the top half of those that are the best teams to go play everybody. They can't.
Like Duke and Carolina, they can't schedule Belmont every year. What about the other ones? They have to play home games. It's just too difficult. Now they're going to increase the number of in conference games for power conferences.
So it's going to mean even fewer opportunities for mid-majors. So this sort of isn't going to change anytime soon.
Over the past 10 years, Rick Byrd and his Bruins have a combined record of 237-95, which includes 20 wins or more in nine of 10 seasons. They have made the NCAA Tournament five times during that span, but never as an at-large selection.
The Bruins join teams like Monmouth and Oakland as strong mid-majors who just won’t have the numbers to contend for an at-large bid. It’s not fair. It’s just how it is.