Mac Engel

It’s actually progress, but TCU can only blame itself for NCAA snub

Big Mac Chat: Jamie Dixon

Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel talks to TCU basketball coach Jamie Dixon about basketball, Dixon's career, and recruiting.
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Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel talks to TCU basketball coach Jamie Dixon about basketball, Dixon's career, and recruiting.

TCU can now add “Crushing NCAA Exclusion” to its list of achievements for its basketball program under Jamie Dixon, which in this case was sadly earned.

Dixon has done a lot in his three years at TCU, so adding Sunday’s NCAA Selection Show watching pity party is, in a perverted and painful way, progress.

TCU was not going to hold a watching party with the players, staffers, media and select fans, until it decided on Sunday morning to do it. After all, most of the NCAA Tournament predictions had TCU making the field.

TCU had a case to narrowly make the cut for the NCAA Tournament, but it can only blame itself for the painful exclusion.

You can’t lose to Oklahoma State. When you do beat T. Boone State, you can’t win those two games by a combined total of five points, including one on a buzzer-beater. You can’t lose at home to something called Lipscomb. You can’t lose to West Virginia. You have to close out that home game against Kansas.

With a slew of injuries and transfers, TCU simply was not good enough. An NIT bid is right.

TCU basketball, at this juncture, is too early in this flawed process to be given the benefit of anything for an NCAA bid.

“When you see all of the projections,” Dixon said, “it makes you wonder why and how.”

Let me help: T-C-U.

If Jamie D needs any advice about these sort of selection exclusions, he should call a certain football coach down the hall. TCU football coach Gary Patterson could write a PhD about the fairness of the college sports’ postseason selection processes.

Regardless of whatever the fancy computer says that spits out the rankings, the name always matters; when the NCAA selection frauds looked at the names, they went with an Ohio State or a St. Johns, and a pretty mid-major like Belmont, before they could pick TCU.

This is a program that has made a total of eight NCAA tournaments, typically celebrates when receiving an invite from the NIT, and now is depressed after being left out of big dance. In the grand scheme of this program’s history, feeling like you’ve been dumped by your girlfriend on NCAA Selection Sunday is an advancement for the state of TCU basketball.

A TCU team that is 20-13, with a 7-11 record in the Big 12, is never going to get a spot over a Ohio State team that has a similar record.

Welcome to the world of NCAA athletics, which is built on the ideology of equality, and never comes close to achieving such standards.

There are always two or three teams that feel they did just enough to get in, but don’t, every March. That is TCU in 2019. It’s not exactly worthy of a banner, not unless you’re Texas A&M, but in the evolution of TCU a Selection Sunday snub is progress.

“I understand where that comes from and that we’re talking about the NCAA Tournament; I know this is not normal to Fort Worth and to TCU,” Dixon said. “I guess there is some part of me that will say we made significant progress but at this time really I’m disappointed not to be in the tournament.”

There is always some ranking system created by a computer, which is never seen, that the snubbed teams point to in order to show the world that they were robbed.

For years, the RPI was the ranking system all coaches leaned on to make their case. This year, it’s something called the “Net” ranking system, which the NCAA “reportedly” used to guide it through the process.

A frustrated Dixon pointed out that his team ranked higher than several teams in the Net system that received at-large bids. He’s right. Ohio State, Liberty, Minnesota, among a few others, all rank behind TCU in the Net Rankings are in the tourney.

This is all you need to know about the Net Rankings: Texas is 38th, well ahead of TCU, and Baylor, which did make the NCAAs.

Texas finished 16-16, and, like TCU, was relegated to the National Intramural Tournament.

Under Dixon, the team has won an NIT, made an NCAA Tournament, and now just barely missed one, too.

Call it progress, because this exclusion, while painful, was earned.

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