Baylor, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and USC were the final four teams to be left out of the field for the 2018 NCAA Tournament, which was revealed Sunday. All of them end up on the outside looking in after their time on the bubble, and will have to wait for next season for another chance to participate in March Madness.
Saint Mary’s may be the most unexpected omission from this year’s tournament. The Gaels posted a 28-5 regular season record and split their season series with Gonzaga. However, the team lost to BYU, 85-72, in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament. It appears that proved to be the death blow to their chances of reaching March Madness.
UCLA, Saint Bonaventure, Arizona State, and Syracuse were the final four teams to make the field, according to the selection committee. Those teams were deemed to have stronger resumes than the bubble teams that were left off, so get ready for some fierce debates between Bruins and Trojans fans in California soon.
Not every team can make the 68-team field for the NCAA Tournament, so here’s a rundown of the biggest snubs from the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
A five-game winning streak that included wins over Kansas and Texas Tech, both top-10 teams at the time, seemed to put Baylor in a great position in mid-February, but the Bears lost four of their final five games. A pair of home losses to West Virginia, including one in the Big-12 tournament, stand out during that stretch.
A soft schedule ended up catching up to Saint Mary’s in the end despite currently ranking 20th in the AP Top 25. The team rolled through its slate with a 28-5 record, but lost to Washington State and Georgia in non-conference play and BYU in the WCC tournament. Most of the wins came against teams it should beat, and the selection committee wasn’t too impressed in the end.
Yes, three of Louisville’s final losses came against Virginia, which seems excusable on some level. But the Cardinals also dropped nine of their final 14 games after a 15-4 start, and all those losses to top teams left them without the kind of marquee wins necessary to squeeze in. It’s the first time the school has missed the tournament twice in three years since back-to-back absences in 2001-02.
The Trojans put themselves in the running with a strong finish to the season that included six wins in eight games and a trip to the Pac-12 championship game against Arizona, but they ultimately needed to win that contest to earn a spot. The team lost the final and its spot in the tournament in the process as the selection committee passed on a resume that included few wins over top teams.
A shocking 71-68 overtime loss to ninth-seeded Southern Miss knocked Middle Tennessee out of the Conference USA tournament and, as a result, the NCAA tournament as well. The team was considered a heavy favorite for a third straight trip to March Madness, but lost its final two games before the Selection Show.
A seven-game losing streak in January ultimately proved to be the Fighting Irish’s downfall. The team was able to shake off those struggles to finish with a 20-14 record, but it went 0-7 against ranked opponents following a victory over Wichita State on Nov. 22. Playing in the ACC provided Notre Dame with a lot of chances for big wins, and it didn’t come away with many of them.
The Cowboys beat Kansas in their final regular season game, but lost to the Jayhawks in the conference tournament. It turns out that the second game was the one that Oklahoma State really needed to win because its elimination from the Big-12 tournament proved to be the demise of its chances to make the NCAA Tournament, too.
Marquette posted a 19-13 record despite a pretty tough schedule, but many of those losses came against the toughest teams. The Golden Eagles went 0-7 against Purdue, Wichita State, Villanova, and Xavier, and their only win against a ranked team came over then-No. 13 Seton Hall in January.