While Cowboy fans expressed on Twitter their contempt for members of the NCAA Tournament’s Selection Committee, what happened to Oklahoma State on Sunday isn’t nearly as bad as what happened to Barry Hinson and the Missouri State Bears in 2006 and to the Oklahoma State football team in 2011.
On Selection Sunday 12 years ago, Hinson and his Missouri State basketball players had a 20-win record and were 21st in the RPI. Their minds were blown when they weren’t included on the NCAA Tournament bracket. It was a shocking and dead-wrong decision by the Selection Committee.
The 2011 football Cowboys, with an 11-1 season and a Big 12 championship, should have been matched with LSU in the Bowl Championship Series title game. Instead, Alabama was chosen to face the Tigers.
If there had been an Oklahoma State-LSU title game, Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said in 2015, “I don’t think there’s any question that we would have won by three touchdowns.”
OSU was penalized for having lost in double overtime at Iowa State. That Friday game was played only 27 hours after the plane-crash death of OSU’s women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna. Cowboy football coaches and players were in a daze during their pregame routine at Ames. The game should have been postponed until the next day, but it wasn’t and Oklahoma State stumbled.
The outcome was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect season for the best football team in OSU history, and even with that loss the Cowboys were deserving of a championship-game shot at LSU.
In spite of an impressive collection of conquests — two victories over Kansas, two over Oklahoma, one at West Virginia, one over Texas Tech and one over Florida State — this season’s basketball Cowboys are not participants in the NCAA Tournament.
Instead, on Tuesday in Stillwater, the Cowboys are matched with Florida Gulf Coast in the NIT.
OSU people are angry for two reasons. The Cowboys are not in the NCAA Tournament, while the Sooners are. Four days after OU was eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament by the Cowboys, the Sooners were given a 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Region.
Since mid-January, Trae Young and the Sooners are 4-11.
After seeing that the University of Tulsa was not selected for the National Invitation Tournament field and that Temple was, Golden Hurricane fans probably remembered what happened a week earlier: That Temple trailed 24-0 at TU and wound up with an 18-point setback.
Temple is 17-15 overall and was 8-10 in the American Athletic Conference. Tulsa’s records are 19-12 and 12-6.
So why is Temple on the 32-team NIT bracket and Tulsa isn’t? Temple is 52nd in the RPI. Tulsa is 89th.
A new tool used by the Selection Committee is the examination of a team’s performance against opponents separated into four quadrants. Quadrant I games are home games played against opponents ranked in the top 30 of the RPI, games played on neutral-site courts against opponents in the top 50, and road games played against opponents in the top 75.
In Quadrant I games, as it was explained to the Tulsa World’s Mark Cooper by NCAA Selection Committee chairman Bruce Rasmussen during a Sunday night teleconference, Oklahoma State had 12 losses.
“Oklahoma State was really close to getting in,” said Rasmussen, the athletic director at Creighton. “I know that doesn’t make people feel any better. They had a really good year. But as we looked at the resumes of teams, Oklahoma State had 17 opportunities against (opponents) in Quadrant I. They won five of those.
“We also felt in looking at games outside the conference, they had a lot of wins but they had a lot of games against teams that really were in the bottom 100 in the RPI.”
Oklahoma is 49th in the RPI. Oklahoma State is 88th. Before mid-January, the Sooners stacked quality wins.
When asked about the value of OU’s November-December success, Rasmussen replied, “Every game on the schedule counts the same, as far as the committee is concerned. Oklahoma had some great wins early.
“They had six Quadrant I wins — all in the top 35 (of) the RPI. And while they didn’t play well down the stretch, and it did cost them in seeding, there was enough on the resume to put them in the tournament.”
For first-year Cowboy coach Mike Boynton, the NIT is not the desired postseason assignment. It’s a message that it might be acceptable to have one team like Houston Baptist, Mississippi Valley State and UT Rio Grande Valley on the nonconference schedule, but not all three as the Cowboys did this season.
With more impressive nonconference results, this Cowboy team probably would have been in the NCAA field of 68.
When Boynton assembles the 2018-19 schedule, he’ll do it with the memory of a sobering Selection Sunday.