The full 68-team bracket for the 2022 NCAA Tournament has officially been released. One of the major aspects in the lead-up to Selection Sunday each year is the Bubble Watch. There are always more teams who deserve to be included in the March Madness bracket than there are spots available in the Big Dance. Throughout this college basketball season, the degree of competition and parity across the country has been even greater than usual. As a result, the bubble coming into Selection Sunday this year was jam-packed.
While some teams managed to breathe a sigh of relief when they heard their name called, others will, unfortunately, have to settle for playing in the NIT. The following article looks at five of the biggest NCAA Tournament snubs who wound up on the outside of the bracket looking in.
5 Biggest March Madness Snubs
Considering that Oklahoma finished the season ranked 30th overall according to KenPom, the Sooners certainly classify as a March Madness snub. A lot was made about the Sooners’ lackluster win-loss record, which finished up at 18-15. Well, Michigan landed in the NCAA Tournament bracket and doesn’t even have to go to the First Four in Dayton with an eerily similar 17-14 mark. Make it make sense! Much like Texas A&M and the SEC, OU and the Big 12 are wrongfully viewed as second-fiddle to the Big Ten.
For what it's worth, the Big 12 has four fewer teams than the Big Ten, yet had only one fewer team finish with a top-50 College Basketball NET ranking. Furthermore, the Big 12 had three teams finish higher in both the NET and KenPom than the top Big Ten school in either metric. Clearly, overall metrics and strength of conference were not the basis for the committee snubbing Porter Moser’s Sooners. Clearly, conference tournament results weren't either. After all, Oklahoma upset one of the four March Madness 1-seeds in Baylor just this past week. Other than a 4-12 record in Quad I games and a very poor non-conference strength of schedule, it’s tough to f dirt against the Sooners.
Texas A&M Aggies
In all honesty, the SEC as a whole got disrespected by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Given that this was a prevalent theme across the bracket, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the conference’s tournament runner-up got snubbed out of the field entirely. Because that makes so much sense, right? The SEC has been wrongfully rated behind the Big Ten all season long. Wouldn’t it be fun to know whether or not the Aggies making the same run in the Big Ten Tournament would have been enough to get them into March Madness?
The SEC is no longer a football-only league, even if the selection committee still wants to think so. Texas A&M compiled four Quad I wins and a perfect 5-0 record against Quad II opponents this season. They ranked 42nd in the NET and 43rd overall according to KenPom. Buzz Williams and the Aggies also literally just took down one of the committee's top seeds, Auburn, in the SEC Tournament finals. A&M also finished with the same 9-9 record in league play during the regular season as LSU and Alabama. Each of those teams made the field of 68 safely.
Somehow, you kind of just had the sense that Saturday’s American Atheltic Conference Tournament Semifinal between Memphis and SMU was a must-have for the Mustangs. When they failed to make good on the opportunity, Selection Sunday became a whole lot more stressful. Sure enough, the NCAA Tournament selection committee left SMU out on the doorstep of the Big Dance.
Needless to say, the overall resume put together by Tim Jankovich’s team probably should have seen them included in the field of 68. SMU went 2-2 in games against Quad I opponents this season with their true signature win coming over AAC Champion Houston. They also went 4-4 in Quad II games. The fact that the Mustangs also beat Memphis twice during the regular season really makes this decision even more difficult to swallow. Oh, and point guard Kendric Davis was named AAC Player of the Year. Out of all the teams left out, SMU may have the biggest gripe.
The fact that Xavier spent time ranked in the AP Top 25 during the regular season makes the fact that they are not a part of the March Madness bracket all the more remarkable. KenPom ranked the Musketeers 60th overall and they were even higher in the NET at No. 41. Unfortunately, Xavier’s horrendous final month of the season proved to be their demise as far as even qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. In fact, Travis Steele’s team was not even listed among the “First Four Out” by the selection committee.
Xavier’s upset loss to Butler in the First Round of the Big East Conference Tournament this past week was really the continuation of a prolonged late-season swoon. A win over UConn on February 11th saw the Musketeers emerge over .500 in the rugged Big East at 7-6. From there Xavier lost five of its final six regular-season games and then failed to improve their resume at all in the conference tournament. Despite recording a whopping five Quad I wins this season, Xavier will not be able to compete for a national championship.
#FourBidWCC was a very real thing for what seemed like the duration of the college basketball regular season. Unfortunately, the 10-team conference was forced to settle with only getting three schools into the bracket on Selection Sunday. The one team who was deserving, yet snubbed from inclusion was BYU. Mark Pope’s squad certainly stacked up well in the metrics, finishing 51st in the KenPom rankings and 54th in the NET. The Cougars also earned four Quad I wins this season and beat three teams who wound up making the field of 68 head-to-head.
Much like Xavier, late-season struggles probably doomed BYU’s chances of earning an at-large bid. Also like Xavier, the Cougars were ranked in the AP Top 25 for a few weeks early in the season, climbing as high as No. 12. While the Cougs only suffered one terrible loss on the road against Pacific, injuries greatly diminished the team’s quality of play as the season wore on. BYU barely got past WCC bottom-feeders Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine late in the year. Failure to knock off San Francisco and earn that extra resume-boosting victory in the conference tournament all but sealed the Cougars’ fate.