March Madness? Indiana State, 3 20-win Big East teams among those snubbed on Selection Sunday

The only time Indiana State won more games was when Larry Bird was part of a national runner-up team in 1979. The Sycamores won’t even get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament this time.

Even with 28 wins and goggle-wearing big man Robbie Avila among a lineup with all five starters averaging double-figure scoring, the Sycamores were snubbed Sunday by the NCAA selection committee. Three 20-win teams from the Big East Conference — Providence, Seton Hall and St. John’s — were also left out of the 68-team field.

The selection committee said Oklahoma, Seton Hall, Indiana State and Pittsburgh were the first four teams left out.

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Committee chairman Charles McClelland, commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, said five bids were stolen during the conference tournaments by unexpected champions. He said one of those was going to go to Indiana State, which lost to Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament to land squarely back on the bubble.

“Under normal circumstances with those additional bids, they would have been in ... but when you start splitting hairs you have to look at something, you have to find something and that’s ultimately why they were not in the field,” McClelland said.

While the Big 12 got a conference-record eight teams in the field, Oklahoma (20-12) got left out even though it didn’t lose outside Quad 1 games. The SEC-bound Sooners did lose nine of their last 14 games after a 15-3 start.

“I am devastated for these young men who were left out of the NCAA Tournament, despite having a resume and metrics worthy of being in the field,” Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said in a statement. “At a later time, I will have more to say about our body of work and the selection process.”

The Sooners declined an invitation to play in in the National Invitation Tournament, with St. John’s and Pittsburgh also saying they would not participate.

Indiana State (28-6) will be in the NIT as a No. 1 seed. The Sycamores are among the nation’s high-scoring teams at 84.4 points a game, bolstered by their school-record 373 made 3-pointers.

Sycamores coach Josh Schertz said he felt like the MVC was trending as a league that would get multiple NCAA bids, and thought his team did enough based on its NET ranking of 28.

“So it’s beyond disappointing,” Schertz said. “We’ve got to get up tomorrow and get ready for what’s next.”

Pittsburgh (22-11) won 12 of its last 16 games, a stretch that began with a win at Duke. The early losses by the Panthers included one at home to Missouri, which went 0-18 in Southeastern Conference play.

“I am incredibly proud of the performance, development, and fight of our team,” Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said in a statement. “We ultimately fell short of our goal of reaching the NCAA tournament, despite ranking favorably in the computers, performing well in conference play with a fourth-place finish and an ACC tournament semifinal appearance, and playing our best basketball over the last eight weeks of the season.”

Had St. John’s gotten in, it would have been the sixth school coach Rick Pitino had taken to the NCAA Tournament. The Red Storm won’t even play in the NIT.

“After thorough consideration of all that goes into postseason participation, we believe at this time it is best for our team and basketball program to prepare for next season,” Pitino said.

While the Big East had three 20-win teams snubbed, the conference’s three selections are very high seeds. Defending national champion UConn is the top overall seed, while Marquette is a 2-seed and Creighton a 3-seed.

“To me, the whole thing is kind of shell game,” said UConn coach Danny Hurley, whose defending national champions are the No. 1 seed in the East Region. “In the end, it just comes down to what the committee values.”


AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins contributed.


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