Coaches: New quadrant system hurts mid-majors' tourney chances

ByJeff Goodman ESPN logo
Monday, March 12, 2018

Middle Tennesseecoach Kermit Davis andSaint Mary'scoach Randy Bennett, whose mid-major teams were snubbed Sunday, told ESPN that the new quadrant system makes it more difficult for mid-majors to make the NCAA tournament.

"The committee sent a message to me that it's going to get tougher for everybody at our level to get an at-large with this new system," Davis said. "You've got to be perfect. We only have a few chances, and they are usually either on the road or on a neutral court, where the Power 5 schools have six to eight opportunities at home in front of their crowd."

"Look at the season that Saint Mary's had," he added. "They were in the top 20 a week ago. I think people would rather watch both of us in Dayton than two Power 5 teams that finished seventh or eighth in their leagues."

"One hundred percent," Bennett said about the quadrant system hurting mid-majors. "Explain to me how the quadrant system is scored? There's the problem. I don't know why they do anything. I will tell you that they won't tell you how they keep score."

USCcoach Andy Enfield was baffled after hearing that the Trojans were left out of the equation. USC finished second in the Pac-12 in the regular season and lost in the league tournament championship to Arizona.

"We had an RPI of 23 and a strength of schedule of 37," he told ESPN. "It says we played a tough schedule and won a lot of games. We also won 11 games away from home -- six on the road. They were supposed to value that."

Enfield told reporters following the selection show that the Trojans "were in shock" over not making the tournament, adding, "I don't think anyone saw this coming."

"If all that matters is the quality of your best win or two on your schedule, then we shouldn't even play and just set the field in December after the out-of-conference was complete,'' he said. "It basically discredited our entire league schedule, and no matter what we or some of the other teams in our league did during the Pac-12 or the conference tournament did not, obviously, matter.''

Oklahoma Statecoach Mike Boynton, whose team didn't make the 68-team field despite beating Kansastwice and West Virginiain Morgantown, wouldn't comment on whether he thought the committee penalized three teams involved in the FBI investigation -- Oklahoma State, USC and Louisville--by keeping them out of the tournament.

"I don't know anything about that," Boynton said. "But I'm disappointed for my kids. I think they proved in Big 12 play that they could compete and beat anyone. The fact that we weren't even in the first four out was surprising."

"It meant that we had to beat Kansas for a third time just to get in the conversation," he added.

Asked whether he believes that the FBI investigation had anything to do with his team's omission from the bracket, Enfield told ESPN, "I certainly hope not because none of our players were involved."

NCAA tournament selection committee chairBruce Rasmussen said the FBI investigation never came up in the room.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, whose Fighting Irish lost their spot when Davidson upset Rhode Island to win the Atlantic 10 tournament on Sunday and steal an NCAA bid, told ESPN, "After all we have been through, we are honored to be in the NIT."

Baylorcoach Scott Drew, whose Bears were also kept out of the NCAA tournament, said his team lost to only one non-NCAA tournament team all season and finished sixth in the Big 12, considered by many to be the best league in the country.

Drew's suggestion was to expand the field to 96 teams.

"Almost 50 percent of the teams go to a bowl game in football," Drew said. "We always talk about the kids. If you increase the number of teams, it allows more kids to experience the tournament. Add one more game for everyone, and now you've got to win seven. If you're truly about the kids, that's a reason to do it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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