Coach Jamie Dixon felt the selection committee “penalized” the Frogs for playing in the Big 12, arguably the toughest conference in the country. Senior point guard Alex Robinson called it “a joke” that the conference had only six teams make the Big Dance.
But the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee had its reasons to keep TCU out.
“A poor road record, 3-7, no nonconference wins in the first quadrant ultimately hurt their chances,” said Bernard Muir, Stanford’s athletic director who is the chair of the men’s basketball committee.
“It was a really close call, but unfortunately they were on the wrong side of the bubble.”
TCU had three Quad 1 wins on the season, including the season sweep of Iowa State and a win at Texas to close the regular season. The Frogs’ best nonconference win, defeating Florida in the Big 12/ SEC Challenge, barely missed qualifying as a Quad 1 win.
TCU is now headed to the NIT as a one-seed. The Frogs will host Sam Houston State in a first-round game at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Schollmaier Arena.
But the disappointment of missing a second straight NCAA Tournament will be the overwhelming storyline for TCU. This is a team that felt it had clinched a spot by reaching the 20-win mark with a win over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday.
In fairness, the committee considered TCU strongly.
“They were in the discussion to the end because of reasonably good metrics, top five in five of six categories,” Muir said. “Because the Horned Frogs had no losses in the third and fourth quadrants, they were certainly considered among the last teams that we considered into the tournament field.”
Dixon pointed to the Frogs being ranked higher than several teams in the NCAA’s new NET system. TCU is ranked No. 52, higher than at-large bids given to schools such as Ohio State (55), Temple (56), Seton Hall (57), Minnesota (61), Arizona State (63) and St. John’s (73).
Muir emphasized that the NET rankings were just one tool the selection committee used in determining at-large bids. After all, there were plenty of schools with better NET rankings than TCU left out including Texas (38) and Clemson (35).
“I hate to use committee speak, but this is what it is, we’re looking at their full body of work throughout the course of the season,” Muir said. “In this case with TCU that you’re mentioning, there were 33 data points that we’re looking at over the course of a season to see did they challenge themselves when they had the opportunity, did they win games when they had those opportunities. That’s what we measure.
“It is not only looking at one team, one sheet, we’re looking at multiple teams and how they compare to other teams. That’s how we’re trying to get our top 36.”