NCAA Tournament 2018: USC's bracket snub isn't just bad, it's record-breaking
The Trojans now hold the record for the best RPI ranking for a major conference team that missed the dance
Nobody has a bigger beef with the NCAA Tournament selection committee than USC after not earning a bid to the Big Dance. With an RPI of 34, USC is now the to ever be left out of the field of 68.
So what was the selection committee thinking? According to CBS Sports' Jerry Palm, the Trojans' lack of a difficult out-of-conference schedule and inability to beat tournament teams in-conference did them in., with its first game coming against UNC Asheville on Tuesday at 11 p.m.
USC beat New Mexico State and Cal State Fullerton while losing to Texas A&M and Oklahoma out of conference. In conference, the Trojans lost to Arizona twice, rival UCLA twice, and Arizona State. The resume simply wasn't there. It's a harsh punishment, but if USC wins any of those five conference games we may be talking about a different bracket.
Several teams with higher rankings have missed the cut in the past, but no one from a major conference. Missouri State (of the Missouri Valley Conference) holds the record for best RPI to miss the cut, with an RPI of 21 set in 2006. Colorado State missed in 2015 with an RPI of 30. USC fans can be upset with Oklahoma or Syracuse getting in, but Oklahoma's seeding is largely reflective of a lack of recency bias -- which ironically a lot of people tend to attack the committee for -- according to Palm.
As for USC, of course it's frustrated. It missed the tournament by a hair after getting to the Pac-12 title game. However, in spite of its RPI, the wins just weren't there. So although teams like Oklahoma (No. 51), Syracuse (No. 46) and Alabama (No. 39) got in over USC, they got something that USC didn't: Solid wins against tournament teams. USC had a pair: One against New Mexico State and one against Cal State Fullerton. It just wasn't quite enough, and it didn't stack up against Alabama's win over Auburn or Syracuse's win over Clemson in the end.
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