NCAA Tournament snubs: Oklahoma State, Rutgers North Carolina get burned by being left out
The Big 12 was arguably the best conference in the country this basketball season, so how did the selection committee leave out Oklahoma State?
There’s always a team or two or 10 that feels left out after the NCAA Tournament bracket is revealed. But really, it’s just a handful of teams that were actually snubbed -- programs that had a strong case for an at-large bid and were left out for one reason or another.
These teams are likely to accept an NIT bid, of course, and it’s still possible to end their season on a win. But the reality is that the Big Dance is what everyone wants, and they’ll spend the next few weeks wondering where they went wrong.
For years, 20 wins was usually the magical number. But that’s changed since the NCAA selection committee started using NET rankings, a complicated formula that no one seems to completely understand but that can be used for or against you at any point.
Here’s a breakdown of the 2023 men's NCAA Tournament’s biggest snubs.
Everyone knows the Big 12 has been the best conference in the country this season, right? We’re talking best as in, the worst team in that conference could probably win an NCAA Tournament game if given the chance.
Of course no one expected Oklahoma or Texas Tech, both with 5-13 conference records, to get in. But how did the Cowboys (18-15, 8-10 Big 12) get left out?
Remember that the NET is supposed to be what matters most to the selection committee, and Oklahoma State, with a NET ranking of 47, got left out. Teams that got in, however, included Arizona State (63), Pitt (55) and Mississippi State (42). Seems odd, especially given how good the Big 12 was all season.
REGIONAL BREAKDOWNS: East | South | Midwest | West
LEFT OUT:The five biggest tournament snubs led by Oklahoma State
HIGHS AND LOWS:Winners and losers from the NCAA Tournament field
The Scarlet Knights (19-14, 10-10) are a weird team and lack consistency, for sure. But they’ve got a 40 NET ranking, won at Purdue earlier this season and played them well again just the other day in the Big Ten quarterfinals. They also beat Indiana (a 4-seed) and Maryland (9).
They also lost to Minnesota, the worst team in the Big Ten, which is a glaring line on their resume. But still, they’re from a power conference — it does matter, despite what others try to tell you — and again, a good NET. This one is puzzling.
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OK, it’s true that the NET here is far from great (81) and we predicted the Commodores would be left out come Selection Sunday. But as much as we love being right, Vanderbilt (20-14, 11-7 SEC) had a good case for making the tournament. Vanderbilt beat Kentucky twice — twice! — and Mississippi State once. Vandy also beat Tennessee, a 4-seed.
The Commodores had some bad losses, no doubt (hello Grambling and Southern Miss). But teams shouldn’t be penalized for being worse in December than they are in March, and it feels like that's what’s happening. Vanderbilt won 10 of its last 12 games and is a team no one wants to see right now.
With a NET ranking of 57 (are you noticing a theme?) the Tigers didn’t necessarily jump off the page as a tournament team. But they did beat Duke and swept NC State — which got in as an 11.
The problem was a non-conference schedule that ranked 334th. Yes, we are serious, their non-ACC play was really that weak. And given that, while this is a snub to a degree, you could also argue that Clemson (23-10, 14-6 ACC) did it completely to itself. Lesson learned for next year.
Is this actually a snub? Well, it’s tough to say. The Tar Heels (20-13, 11-9 ACC) put themselves in this position, going just 2-9 in Quad 1 games. They looked flat-out bad for stretches during ACC play in particular (which is saying something because the ACC was weak this year).
But to go from national runner-up to preseason No. 1 and Final Four favorite to completely out of the tournament is one wild ride, particularly for one of the most tradition-rich programs in all of college hoops. Oh, and did we mention they returned all but one starter from last year’s Final Four team? They had a decent NET, too (46), especially compared to a few teams that did sneak in.