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Alabama, Kentucky, UVA left out of dance
Here is our obligatory list of NCAA snubs. Truth be told, it’s getting easier and easier every year to explain why teams get snubbed. The simple reason: weak non-conference schedules.
Alabama (21-2, 12-6 SEC): This is the second straight season Alabama didn’t get an invite despite posting 20 or more wins and finishing in the upper echelon of the SEC standings. The Crimson Tide actually played a decent non-conference schedule (VCU, Villanova, Cincinnati, Missouri). Unfortunately they finished 1-3 against those teams. They also suffered terrible losses to Tulane and Auburn. Alabama had zero success against SEC heavyweights Florida and Mississippi.
Arizona State (21-12, 9-9 PAC-12): How many top 50 RPI teams did Arizona State play in its non-conference schedule? Try one, Creighton. And they lost 87-73. Enough said. Oh, they also lost their final four regular season games against Washington, UCLA, USC and Arizona.
Baylor (18-14, 9-9 Big 12): There were a few gripes about Baylor not getting in. But no real quality wins in its non-conference schedule (wins over Kentucky and St. John’s are iffy at this point) and losing six of its final eight games was all she wrote for the Bears.
Kentucky (21-11, 12-6 SEC): Losing Nerlens Noel was certainly a blow to Kentucky’s tournament hopes. More importantly, the Wildcats had little success against the quality teams in their non-conference schedule, going 1-4 against Maryland, Duke, Notre Dame, Baylor and Louisville. Kentucky made a comeback with a win against Florida on March 9, but followed that up with a debilitating 64-48 loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament.
Maryland (22-12, 8-10 ACC): Maryland started the season 13-1, has a win over N.C. State and two victories against Duke. The problem: None of those 13 wins came against the RPI top 50 and the Terps went just 9-11 over their last 20 games.
Southern Mississippi (25-9, 12-4 Conference USA): The Golden Eagles lost their only two games they played against RPI top 50 teams (Arizona, Wichita State). Three losses to Memphis –all by double digits– and a setback against Marshall on March 5 didn’t help the cause either.
Tennessee (20-12, 11-7 SEC): Like fellow SEC member Alabama, the Volunteers didn’t register enough wins against the big teams in their non-conference schedule. The knocked off Wichita State and Xavier, but that was it. An ugly 37-36 loss to Georgetown and 12-point loss at Virginia and losses to Memphis, Mississippi, Alabama and Kentucky in succession during an early January stretch doomed their tournament chances.
Virginia (21-11, 11-7 ACC): Cavaliers fans are hopping mad. While Virginia did get wins over Wisconsin, North Carolina and N.C. State, the Cavaliers also lost to George Mason, Delaware and Old Dominion. An ACC team expecting a tournament bid can’t lose to three CAA teams.
Others with a mild beef: Arkansas, BYU, Iowa.