Not all mid-major teams could breathe sighs of reliefs like Belmont did on Selection Sunday.
UNC Greensboro, Lipscomb and Furman — three teams who hung around the bubble all season long — did not hear their names called on Selection Sunday. Two of the three teams (UNC Greensboro and Lipscomb) made the tournament last season, and one was even ranked in the AP Poll (Furman), yet a combination of bad losses and weak non-conference schedules ultimately tanked their at-large hopes.
Out of all the snubs, the Spartans (28-6, N0. 60 NET) had the strongest case for an at-large bid. In fact, they were the first team out of the field until Oregon won the PAC-12 Tournament, per NCAA’s Director of Media Coordination David Worlock.
In case no one picked up on it, UNCG was in the field until late last night. Oregon’s win knocked them out. In order, Alabama, TCU and Indiana were the next ones that missed the field.— David Worlock (@DavidWorlock) March 17, 2019
Save for a loss to Furman, UNCG’s only losses were to Wofford, LSU and Kentucky — all of which were tournament teams. The lack of quality wins were a concern. The Spartans had a grand total of zero wins against NCAA Tournament teams; aside from scheduling the pair of SEC schools in the non-conference, KenPom’s 253th-ranked schedule featured the likes of Louisiana Tech, Radford and Delaware.
Speaking of Furman, the third potential SoCon bid had one win over an NCAA Tournament team (Villanova), but were swept by Wofford and lost to eventual 3-seed LSU. Despite winning 12 straight and cracking the AP Poll for the first time in school history, finished the regular-season with a 13-7 record — including a bad home loss to Samford on Jan. 26. Like the Spartans, the Paladins have a good case for an NIT berth, but that remains to be seen.
Lipscomb’s exclusion from the Tournament ultimately came down to bad losses and poor luck from its non-conference schedule. Although the Bisons (No. 45 in the NET) challenged themselves by playing the likes of TCU, SMU, Louisville and Clemson, Louisville was the only contender of the bunch. And although they beat eventual tournament teams Liberty and Vermont, the pair of losses to Belmont — which was part of the last four at-large bids — plus a stinker of a loss to Florida Gulf Coast ultimately tanked their at-large hopes. Had Belmont won the OVC Tournament, those losses would’ve looked a bit better, but that’s water under the bridge. The Bisons are a lock in the NIT, though, so there’s that.