NCAA chairman Ron Wellman explains why SMU was left out
SMU went 23-9 overall, 12-6 in conference play, and was ranked in the top 25 as recently as a week ago. But the tournament committee obviously gave very little respect to the American Athletic Conference, and the omission of SMU from the tournament was an example of that (not to mention Louisville as a 4 and UConn as a 7).
Even though SMU beat UConn twice and split with Cincinnati and Memphis, they were left out of the tourney. NCAA chairman Ron Wellman explained why during an interview on CBS’ selection show.
“SMU had an outstanding resume, but their non-conference strength of schedule was in the 300s, which was not very good obviously,” said Wellman. “Their overall strength of schedule is 129. The next lowest overall strength of schedule in the field is 91. So there’s quite a bit of difference between their strength of schedule and the other teams in the field.
“It still remained a very difficult decision, though, because when you give them the eye test, they’re very good. And they were very impressive to the committee. But when you started comparing with those teams that they were fighting to get in the tournament with, we sided with the other teams. And the strength of schedule was a major factor in that decision.”
Losing their last three games in a row — including a defeat against Houston in the conference tournament — really hurt the team. NC State beating Miami and Syracuse in the ACC tournament may have helped them get in that last at-large spot. Xavier, Dayton, Nebraska and BYU were among the last at-large teams to get in.
Still, the NCAA committee was unnecessarily harsh on the AAC. I don’t understand why.