Last year, it was Southern Methodist. This time around it’s Temple.
Teams are sensing an anti-American sentiment coming from the NCAA selection committee. And we’re not talking about anti-Americanism in the sense of the flag-grabbing students at UC-Irvine.
In 2014, the committee shut the Mustangs out of the big dance despite the team going 23-9 in their best season in two decades. Larry Brown’s crew even ranked as high as 18th a month before Selection Sunday.
Today, it’s the Owls getting no love. Temple finished the season 23-10 with an RPI of 34. The Owls struggled a bit out of the gate but had a solid campaign since adding two transfers. A victory over Kansas in Philadelphia led to fans storming the court. There was a lot to be happy about for the Cherry and White. None of it, though, was enough for the suits who make such decisions when it comes to basketball brackets.
The news is better for SMU, who, unlike last year, gets in this time around. However, even though they won their conference tourney, the Mustangs are only a six-seed. Cincinnati is the only other AAC team in the field of 68. Tulsa, like Temple, stands on the outside looking in. Unless the committee just wants to make sure Bill Cosby isn’t anywhere near the postseason, you could argue that American fans have a legitimate beef.
There’s always an argument when it comes to Selection Sunday. There are cases to be made for many teams and all teams hold their destiny in their hands. But clearly teams such as UCLA, Indiana, and Texas, to cite three examples, probably made it over Temple not based on resume but on the popularity of the schools and, in turn, the TV draw those teams may create.
So, Temple will have to settle for a berth in the National Invitational Tournament. Last season, a ticked off SMU squad went all the way to the finals in that tournament after their NCAA snub. Now, a disappointed parliament of Owls will look to do the same or better and salvage something for a conference that seems to be getting very little love when it comes to the national stage.