For the first time in five seasons, Baylor will not play in the NCAA Tournament. On TBS’ selection show, the Bears were not selected as an at large team. Instead, Arizona State and Texas took two of the final spots.
An incredibly strong bubble narrowed the field. With no dominant teams, there were a host of unusual resumes. Oklahoma and Arizona State collapsed, but early wins, including six against quadrant 1 opponents, saved the Sooners and Arizona State made it too. Louisville didn’t have bad losses, and Syracuse won some nice games at the end. Notre Dame looked much better with Bonzie Colson—a senior who missed 15 games. Marquette had five road wins over power six schools. St. Mary’s had 28 wins. Baylor sure picked a bad year to be on the bubble.
Conference week didn’t help Baylor either. Nevada failed to win the Mountain West Conference, making the conference a two bid league. Alabama made a deep run in the SEC Tournament, as did USC in the PAC-12. Both of those teams could have missed the field with early losses. St. Bonaventure just missed losing to Richmond in the Atlantic-10 quarterfinal. Davidson followed up their win over St. Bonaventure by winning the title game against Rhode Island, stealing yet another bid. Just about everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.
Baylor had a number of problems. First, the Bears finished with an RPI of 66. Few teams contend for a spot with that number. Second—and related to the RPI issue—Baylor had a lot of weak non-conference games. Home wins in December against Southern don’t carry much weight. And finally, the Bears didn’t do well away from Waco. They have just two true road wins. That overwhelmed Baylor’s four quadrant 1 victories.
Under different metrics, the Bears had a good case for the tournament. They beat Kansas and Texas Tech. They finished No. 36 on KenPom—higher than several teams that made the field, including St. Bonaventure, a mid-major team that finished 69th. They had a nice win over Creighton in Kansas City. And the Bears went 5-1 against Big 12 bubble teams Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State.
Seven Big 12 teams made the field. Kansas earned a No. 1 seed for the third straight season. The Jayhawks are joined by Texas Tech, West Virginia, TCU, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas.
The NIT Selection Show is at 7:30 on ESPNU. Baylor should easily make the field for that tournament. Baylor made the final in 2009 and won the tournament in 2013.