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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 10 MVC Arch Madness - Indiana State vs Drake

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CARMEL, Ind. — A net ranking of 29th, a 28-6 record, and other qualifying metrics wasn’t enough to get the Indiana State Sycamores into the NCAA Tournament on merit alone.

It seems to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, which made its 68 selections to the “Big Dance” Sunday evening, Indiana State was the victim of what committee chair Dr. Charles McClelland called one of the most unique bubble discussions in quite some time.

“They had a magnificent season. They had great metrics,” McClelland told the CBS broadcast of the selection. “But when you start to look at their non-conference and the games they played outside of conference, that was something we had to take a look at.”

Ultimately, that was the reason McClelland gave for leaving the Sycamore out, which has sent many shockwaves through the fanatic community, even from among those who are fans of other teams.

Even coaches also sounded off the fact that it is tough for mid-major teams like ISU to schedule games that give them opportunities to pad their tournament resume.

“I do feel bad for Indiana State,” said Purdue head coach Matt Painter. “They deserve to be in the tournament. I don’t think it’s fair. I’ve scheduled at that level. It is very difficult for people to come to your place and play you, you know, teams that are consistently going to be in the NCAA Tournament.”

The Sycamores were passed over by the likes of Virginia (net 54th, 23-10), Colorado State (net 36th, 22-10), and Michigan State (net 24th, 19-14) just to name a few. It also didn’t help the trees, according to McClelland, that there were five bids “stolen” by teams winning their post-season tournaments. One of the most notable was NC State’s victory in the ACC Tournament.

On merit alone, NC State is ranked 64th in the net rankings with a 22-14 record.

The decision is final from the committee, unfortunately. Indiana State will not compete for a National Championship this year in spite of their deserving accolades. The Sycamores have accepted an invitation to take part in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) instead, where they were a no-brainer pick for a 1-seed.

The Sycamores will square off with Southern Methodist University (SMU) in the opening round this coming Wednesday (3/20) and they will have the pleasure of hosting the match-up in front of a national TV audience.

How About Butler?

The Butler Bulldogs are not finished with the season yet either. Coming off an early exit from the Big East Tournament they will be among five Big East teams in the NIT field.

Many took to social media on Sunday to voice their displeasure with the committee for only taking three Big East teams. Seton Hall, the overall 1-seed in the NIT, was right there with Indiana State among the first four teams left out of March Madness.

The Bulldogs had been in the March Madness conversation late in the regular season, but having lost five games in a row in February their NCAA Tournament chances petered out despite a valiant effort.

Butler is a 4-seed and will take on Minnesota and will host their first-round game as well inside Hinkle Fieldhouse Tuesday night (3/19). This marks Butler’s tenth appearance in the NIT and was most recently part of the NIT field in 2019.

Hinkle is also where the NIT Semifinals and Championship Game will be held this year as well on April 4th.

The compelling thing about the selection of the NIT field is that it teases a possible meet-up between Indiana State and Butler in the second round of the tournament should they both win their respective first-round games.