32 Teams Who Would've Made the NCAA Tournament With Expansion
Utah State got crushed by 16 in its first-round matchup with Texas A&M. UTEP never had a chance in its 18-point loss to Butler. So, you know what? Let's add 32 more mediocre at-large teams to the NCAA tournament.
That's the direction it appears we are headed after Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney said yesterday that an expanded 96-team field is "probable" for next year.
Everyone knows it's a terrible idea to mess with the most perfect tournament in the world, but let's take a look at the 32 undeserving schools (and the next four who wouldn't even make a 96-team field) that would've made the Big Dance this season if the tournament had already been expanded.
Mississippi State (13 seed)
Mississippi State was actually the only team I had in my projected field that didn't make the cut on Selection Sunday (I had them in over Florida), but even with the Bulldogs' near-miss against Kentucky in the SEC championship game, they really didn't deserve to be in the field.
MSU's RPI was below 50 and its strength of schedule was up around 100. The Bulldogs were 1-5 against the top 25, 2-5 vs. the top 50 and had four losses to RPI sub-100 teams.
Virginia Tech (13 seed)
Va Tech played one of the weakest non-conference schedules in the country and it lost to 12th-place Miami in the ACC quarters.
But, hey, the Hurricanes might be a tournament team under the new format. So I guess that wasn't such a bad loss after all.
Illinois (13 seed)
Illinois had a ton of chances to pick up big wins this season, and in the end, it really didn't win enough of them.
The Illini were a dismal 6-10 against the top 100 and suffered bad defeats to Utah (neutral), Bradley (neutral), Georgia (away) and Northwestern (away).
Mississippi (13 seed)
Ole Miss lost at home to Arkansas and didn't have enough good wins to qualify as an at-large.
In addition, the Rebels were swept by fellow bubble Mississippi State.
Seton Hall (14 seed)
This is another team that did not win enough big games considering how many opportunities it had to do so.
The Pirates were 6-12 against the top 100 and then imploded after Selection Sunday with crotch punches, an ejection, a dismissal, an arrest, a first-round exit in the NIT, and the firing of head coach Bobby Gonzalez.
South Florida (14 seed)
The Bulls were 71st in the RPI, 61st in SOS, 3-8 against the top 50 and 6-11 vs. the top 100.
William & Mary (14 seed)
The Tribe had three horrendous sub-200 defeats to UNC-Wilmington (home), James Madison (away), and Towson (home).
Rhode Island (14 seed)
URI's only top-50 win came over Oklahoma State and it didn't do enough damage in the Atlantic 10.
The Rams were 0-5 against the top 25 and 1-5 vs. the top 50.
Arizona State (15 seed)
The Sun Devils beat San Diego State and Washington at home and that's about it. Their RPI was 63, their SOS was 78 and they were 1-4 against the top 25, 2-6 vs. the top 50 and 4-7 against the top 100.
ASU also had three sub-100 losses and was 6-7 in road/neutral games.
Dayton (15 seed)
Just because Dayton has reached the NIT final doesn't mean they deserved to make the NCAA tournament.
The Flyers were 3-8 vs. the top 50 and 5-10 against the top 100. They also lost to a pair of sub-100 teams in St. Joseph's and Duquesne.
Virginia Commonwealth (15 seed)
It's not a big surprise that VCU won the CBI tournament because the Rams clearly should've been in the NIT, but the NCAAs? Not a chance.
Virginia Commonwealth's SOS was below 100 and it had four sub-100 losses, including one at No. 241 James Madison.
UAB (15 seed)
The Blazers were 1-3 against the top 50 and 4-6 vs. the top 100 with two sub-100 losses to Virginia and Southern Miss, the latter of which came in the first round of the Conference USA tournament.
Wichita State (16 seed)
If expansion does become a reality, prepare to say goodbye to the integrity of fun NCAA tournament records like 16 seeds being winless against 1 seeds.
Within five years, a 16 will topple a 1 because a team like Wichita State can upset a squad like Kentucky on a given night.
That doesn't mean these teams deserve to be in the Big Dance. Pretty much any school in the top 150 has a chance to beat anyone in a one-game scenario.
But NCAA at-large teams should be capable of more than that. It should be possible for them to win six straight, and a team like the Shockers that went 1-4 against the top 50, lost four games to sub-100 schools and went 5-7 on the road, can't do that.
Memphis (16 seed)
Memphis didn't have a single win over a team seeded higher than 13th in the field of 65 and the Tigers had four sub-100 losses, including a sub-200 defeat at SMU.
Saint Louis (16 seed)
Like the team they were swept by in the CBI final (VCU), Saint Louis should've been in the NIT, but again, a team with this resume has no business being in the NCAAs.
The Billikens were 5-8 in road/neutral games and 4-7 against the top 100, and they lost to four sub-100 teams.
Nevada (16 seed)
And now we get to the teams that make the idea of expanding to 96 seem like an absolute joke.
Nevada was 4-9 in road games, 0-5 against the top 50 and 5-10 vs. the top 100. The Wolf Pack also lost at No. 190 Fresno State and No. 257 Hawaii.
North Carolina (17 seed)
This is what it's really about, right? Making sure traditional powers like UNC, Connecticut, and Arizona make the tournament every year, so that their fans and their fans' dollars come along for the ride.
The day that a 5-11 ACC team makes the Big Dance is the day that it stops being the greatest tournament in the world.
Connecticut (17 seed)
UConn went 17-15 overall, 7-11 in the Big East, 2-9 on the road, 3-7 against the top 50 and 8-13 vs. the top 100.
Cincinnati (17 seed)
The Bearcats were 3-10 against the top 50.
Texas Tech (17 seed)
Texas Tech was 17-15, 4-12 in the Big XII, 3-9 on the road and 3-13 against the top 50.
I think I'm starting to cry a little.
Tulsa (18 seed)
Tulsa was 6-8 in road/neutral games, 1-5 vs. the top 50 and 4-10 against the top 100.
Marshall (18 seed)
With the 116th toughest schedule in the country, CIT quarterfinalist Marshall went 1-4 against the top 50 and 3-8 vs. the top 100.
I know I'm tuning in to watch them play VCU on the Tuesday after Selection Sunday. Can't wait.
Illinois State (18 seed)
With the 128th toughest schedule in the country, Illinois State went 6-7 on the road, 1-4 vs. the top 50, 5-7 against the top 100 and lost three sub-100 games.
Missouri State (18 seed)
CIT champ Missouri State was 8-10 in the Missouri Valley, 4-9 on the road, 0-5 against the top 50 and lost to the likes of Arkansas, Drake, Bradley, Creighton, and Southern Illinois.
Northeastern (19 seed)
Northeastern went 5-7 outside of the Colonial Athletic Conference and had a losing record against teams ranked 101-200 in the RPI.
Charlotte (19 seed)
The 49ers were 3-9 against the top 50, 4-9 vs. the top 100 and lost seven of their last eight games.
St. John's (19 seed)
The 17-15 Red Storm went 6-12 in the Big East, 4-7 on the road, 3-9 against the top 50, 7-14 vs. the top 100 and lost twice to teams ranked below 100 in the RPI.
Wright State (19 seed)
With a SOS of 134, Wright State was 5-11 on the road, 0-4 against the top 50, 1-7 vs. the top 100 and lost five times against sub-100 opponents, including a defeat at No. 210 Loyola-Chicago.
North Carolina State (20 seed)
You know how pesky those 20 seeds can be...at Wimbledon.
NC State was 19-16, 5-11 in the ACC, 3-7 on the road, 7-12 against the top 100 and lost to Northwestern, Arizona, and Virginia.
Miami (20 seed)
The Hurricanes were 19-13, 4-12 in the ACC, 2-8 on the road, 3-7 vs. the top 50, 7-10 against the top 100 and 1-3 vs. teams ranked 101-200 in the RPI.
Arizona (20 seed)
The streak continues!
The Wildcats make another NCAA tournament with a stellar resume that includes a 100 RPI, a 16-15 overall record, a 5-10 road/neutral mark, two wins in nine games against the top 100 and seven, count 'em, seven losses to sub-100 teams.
Louisiana Tech (20 seed)
Can you feel the excitement? We're ready to announce the last at-large selection into the field of 96!
That is unless the NCAAs go the route of the NIT and grant automatic bids to regular-season conference champions, in which case Weber State, Pacific, Coastal Carolina, Quinnipiac, Belmont, Stony Brook, and Jackson State would get in over Louisiana Tech and the previous six teams listed.
You know, because we must have two teams from the SWAC in the tournament.
Portland (first team out)
Portland's 5-7 road record and 1-6 mark against the top 50 just weren't enough to get it in. At least the NIT top seeds will be stacked.
Charleston (second team out)
Charleston was 0-2 against the top 50 and 3-4 vs. the top 100, not to mention seven sub-100 losses.
IUPUI (third team out)
The Jaguars were 1-6 against the top 100.
Iona (fourth team out)
Iona was 0-4 against the top 50, but they had a solid 9-4 road record, so the Gaels should really be in, too. You know what? Let's expand to 347 teams.