Notre Dame, Louisville, USC and Top Snubs Left off 2018 NCAA Tournament Bracket

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2018

SOUTH BEND, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Bonzie Colson #35 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Purcell Pavilion on February 28, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

A number of college basketball fans generally feel aggrieved every March with the reveal of the NCAA tournament field, and that's no different in 2018 with Sunday's release of the 68-team bracket.

The full bracket can be viewed below:

Sports Illustrated shared whom the selection committee had as the last four schools in to the tournament and the "First Four Out":

The list of the First Four Out doesn't even include one of the biggest snubs: the Louisville Cardinals.

Louisville went 20-13 this season and reached the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. It was an impressive season considering the Cardinals fired head coach Rick Pitino last October in the wake of the FBI's investigation into college basketball. Interim head coach David Padgett worked wonders in a difficult situation.

The same investigation extended to the USC Trojans, with records obtained by federal authorities showing acquaintances of Trojans Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright accepted money from ASM Sports.

USA Today's Dan Wolken couldn't help connect the two programs' bad luck Sunday to the ongoing drama:

On merit alone, both Louisville and USC have a legitimate claim to being snubbed by the committee. The Cardinals are 33rd on KenPom.com and 36th in the RPI, and the Trojans sit 40th and 34th, respectively, in the two rankings.

The fact Louisville was 0-11 against teams in the top 50 of the RPI didn't help, though, and USC was just 2-6 by the same metric.

While the presence of an Oklahoma school in the 2018 NCAA tournament surprised few, many didn't expect it to be the Oklahoma Sooners. The Oklahoma State Cowboys won two of their three matchups against Oklahoma and completed a regular-season sweep of the Kansas Jayhawks.

Oklahoma State is also implicated in the FBI investigation and fired an assistant coach last September as a result of the scandal, which some will undoubtedly see as a factor in the committee's decision.

However, it's worth mentioning Oklahoma was ranked higher on KenPom and the RPI (47th on both) than Oklahoma State (56th on KenPom and 91st in the RPI).

For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Bonzie Colson's foot injury basically torpedoed their hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament. Following an 11-3 start, Notre Dame lost nine of its next 15 games to slip to 17-12 before Colson returned in February. Six of the Fighting Irish's nine defeats to top-50 RPI teams came without Colson in the lineup.

Had Notre Dame upset Virginia on March 3 or Duke in the ACC tournament, that might've been enough to sway the selection committee.

No snub was arguably bigger than the 28-5 Saint Mary's Gaels, who are 20th in the Associated Press Top 25 and 19th in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

CBS Sports' Gary Parrish provided the rebuttal in defense of the committee:

On one hand, Saint Mary's has largely the same team from last year that reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Gaels also claimed a road upset over the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Jan. 18. KenPom has Saint Mary's as the highest-rated team to miss the Big Dance (No. 28).

On the other hand, the Gaels had just seven games against teams in the top 100 in the RPI. The team had a razor-thin margin for error in the event it failed to win the West Coast Conference tournament. That's why losing to the BYU Cougars in the conference tournament semifinals was a major blow for Saint Mary's.

Like many other schools, Saint Mary's can make a strong case it was overlooked by the committee. At the same time, the Gaels are far from the first mid-major program to fall short of making the NCAA tournament field despite an impressive resume.

One can't help but wonder whether Gonzaga will consider Saint Mary's snub when it weighs whether it wants to leave the WCC for greener pastures.

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