Michigan, Maryland, Arizona, Wisconsin, Minnesota. This list of teams have been mentioned as some of the last teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Looking again at this list, what do these schools have in common?
These schools proved that they could beat bubble teams and/or NCAA Tournament teams in and out of their respective conferences.
One of the last teams out of the NCAA Tournament was Penn State, a team that many people think should've been in the tournament.
If you would like, I can tell you why they are not in the tournament. But before I do, reality is needed, Penn State fans. So brace yourselves.
Penn State is not in the tournament because of their non-conference schedule. With the tournament committee clamoring about teams' full bodies of work, Penn State is clamoring about their conference wins.
With the tournament committee clamoring about needing a good strength of schedule, Penn State is clamoring about, well, their conference wins.
With the tournament committee clamoring about what kind of wins you have against better teams out of conference, Penn State is clamoring about their conference wins.
In their non-conference schedule, Penn State played only two teams from the RPI top 100, and they lost to both of them. Meanwhile, Michigan was beating Duke and UCLA. Maryland was beating Michigan and Michigan State. Arizona was beating Gonzaga and San Diego State, and Minnesota was beating Louisville.
Wisconsin was only beating Virginia Tech, but at least it was a bubble team.
Penn State only had to schedule a few games of good, solid competition, and they would've been in the tournament. Despite Duke (twice) and UCLA, Michigan went to Maryland and to Connecticut. Wisconsin even lost to the likes of Texas.
But at least they played them.
If Penn State does schedule some games, the question then becomes, would they even have 20 wins? Would they even be considered on the bubble if they played better non-conference competition?
The answers to those questions are, "I don't know." It's the only answer you can come up with and it was the only answer the committee came up with. All the committee could do was go by what their schedule told them.
And Penn State's out of conference schedule told them that they couldn't beat a couple of Atlantic-10 teams.
We should all know by now that you can't schedule cupcakes, win a few big games in your conference, which a lot of teams do, and then think that it's enough to go to the NCAA Tournament.
It'll never be enough, because other bubble teams will get the nod, better conference record or not, because they proved to the committee that they could beat NCAA Tournament teams in and out of their conference.
Michigan beat Duke, the ACC tournament champion and second-best team of the RPI's highest-ranked conference.
Minnesota beat the overall No. 1 seed, Louisville, on a neutral floor.
Maryland beat a No. 2 seed and regular season Big-10 champion Michigan State.
Arizona beat a No. 4 seed and West Coast Conference regular season and conference tournament champion, Gonzaga.
All of those wins were out of conference. And Penn State couldn't beat two teams from the A-10.