The lasting memory of the 2018-19 Fresno State men’s basketball season likely will be an 85-60 loss to Utah State in Las Vegas at the Mountain West Conference Tournament. Though it shouldn’t be the final memory to a great season, ultimately it will be.
The loss is surely what popped into the heads of committee members of the National Invitation Tournament committee (NIT) as it chose to snub a 23-9 Bulldogs team, denying it the chance to continue its season.
Along with the NIT snub, the Bulldogs were denied an opportunity to play in the College Basketball Invitation (CBI) and the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), which are tournaments that go by the pay-to-play format.
After media outlets, like drating.com and MidMajorMadness, that focus on studying and projecting which teams should make the NIT, had the Bulldogs selected as a team that would receive a bid to NIT, can you blame them for refusing to pay for postseason play?
In an article by The Fresno Bee, head coach Justin Hutson brought up some good points on why it was disappointing that the Bulldogs didn’t get into the NIT after the season they had.
“We were disappointed we didn’t get into the NIT with our resume, our (kenpom.com) ranking, our NET ranking and our Quadrant One and Quadrant Two wins, our wins on the road and playing in a tough conference,” Hutson told The Bee.
The main takeaway from the quote is the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) ranking that Hutson mentioned, which is an analytic system the NCAA introduced this season to replace the Rating Percentage Index (RPI). The NET system incorporates factors such as game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin and net efficiency at both ends of the court.
With NET being all the rage this season, here are a list of schools in the NIT with a NET rating below 80, which is what the Bulldogs’ rating is, and a record worse than Fresno State: Campbell University (20-12, 223), Harvard (18-11, 129), Saint Francis University (18-14, 265), Wright State University (21-13, 140), Loyola-Chicago (20-13, 128), University of San Diego (21-14, 97), Norfolk State University (21-13, 226), Georgetown (19-13, 82), Wichita State University (19-14, 83) and Sam Houston State University (21-11, 174).
Some of the aforementioned schools you may have heard of and some of them you may be thinking are just made up. Seven of those schools earned automatic berths by way of their regular season conference titles and not by being selected to the NCAA tournament.
And with the other three remaining on that list, the only school that you could say deserves its spot more than Fresno State is Georgetown, due to it playing in the Big East Conference.
Wichita and San Diego could arguably be replaced with Fresno State after the season the Bulldogs had, especially after both teams failed to finish as a top-five team in their respective conferences during the regular season with Wichita finishing sixth in the American Athletic Conference and San Diego finishing seventh in the West Coast Conference.
Despite the snub, those who supported the Bulldogs at the Save Mart Center, watched the ‘Dogs play this season on TV or have interacted with players personally should view this season as a success and look forward to next year’s play.
Now, the one big question going into the NCAA Tournament will be whether or not Fresno State fans should cheer for No. 7 seed Nevada and No. 8 seed Utah State because of conference affiliation.
The decision will ultimately be in the hands of fans, but here are some points that may help you make the decision.
What were your thoughts on losing a somewhat close game at the SMC to Nevada and an even closer game in Reno, with both coming in questionable fashion?
If I were you, I wouldn’t cheer for them.
How did you feel after losing to Utah State by 25 points in the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament?
So you should probably not cheer for them.
Do you feel the pain and anger that Deshon Taylor, Sam Bittner and Braxton Huggins feel not being able to suit up one more time in a Bulldogs uniform because they were snubbed for a postseason play after outstanding senior campaigns?
Then you should definitely not cheer for them.