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Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin frustrated with Vols being left out

Mar 18, 2013, 11:40 PM EDT

Cuonzo Martin AP

Tennessee was squarely on the bubble for most of the latter half of the season. On Sunday, they found out their 20-12 overall record and 11-7 mark in the Southeastern Conference wasn’t enough to get them in the Field of 68.

Their coach, Cuonzo Martin, clearly isn’t happy about it. Not necessarily because his team was left out, but because he believes scheduling was a big reason for it.

After mulling it over, he believes that shouldn’t be the case.

“But it shouldn’t be that way, because now you’re talking about are we a mid-major league,” Martin said. “You’re talking about a BCS league and you’re saying we have to approach it as if we’re a mid-major league. If that’s the case, then we need to schedule like mid-major league. Then, maybe we can get eight or nine teams in the tournament.”

Martin also said he believed that three years ago in his final season at Missouri State, that team’s record would’ve gotten them in, had the selection process been the way it is today. The Bears finished 26-9 with an RPI of 44 and didn’t receive an at-large bid to the tournament.

“I think so, because three years ago Missouri State would’ve been in the NCAA tournament if it was what it is today. That’s part of it, that’s why you have to do everything in your power not to allow anybody to make a decision on your future.”

He may have a point about having to schedule like a mid-major team, but the bottom line was that his team didn’t help to raise the level of talent in the SEC this season. Part of that was due to the season-long loss of Jeronne Maymon to injury (yes, he’s that important) and the rest was just inconsistent play. One or two wins in the SEC Tournament might’ve gotten them over the hump. The Volunteers lost to Alabama in the quarterfinals.

If anything, the committee really picked teams that didn’t have bad losses, more than ones that had good wins. Three of Tennessee’s losses were to NCAA Tournament teams in Georgetown, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. The rest include Arkansas, Virginia and two losses to Alabama. Meaning they lost to a number of bubble teams that didn’t make it as well. They also dropped a game at Georgia.

Tennessee finished with an RPI of 59. No teams lower than them got an at-large bid.

So Martin’s argument has merit, but with so many losses to teams that were in the same situation as they were, looking back, they needed those wins more than anything.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

  1. glink123 - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Iowa is the team that got hosed. They finished .500 in the Big10, which is unquestionably the best conference in the nation. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Indiana, ALL have a legitimate shot at winning the tournament. Five teams. Amazingly, Illinois and Minnesota both got invites, yet finished below Iowa in the conference standings. Go figure.

  2. glink123 - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    I’ll also throw in the stat that 7 of Iowa’s 10 losses were by 4 or less points.

  3. dlmzzz - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    “You’re talking about a BCS league and you’re saying we have to approach it as if we’re a mid-major league.”
    If you have a weak non-conference schedule, you should be punished, no matter what league you are in. This year, the selection committee did a decent job of that.

    “7 of Iowa’s 10 losses were by 4 or less points”
    Although having close games may show how good you are, the committee shouldn’t be trying to select teams that can almost win games.

    Iowa was another team that was rightfully punished for playing a weak non-conference schedule. If you don’t have enough confidence in your team to line up games against good teams in the games where you get to choose your opponents, why should the committee have confidence in you?

  4. packhawk04 - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    Non conference SOS over 300… that doesnt cut it.

  5. barnesaintnoble - Mar 19, 2013 at 2:05 AM

    It’s always nice when the tournament has a bunch of big name schools, but that wouldn’t be fair. Gotta make some room for those little guys at the expense of some of the under achieving big guys. Finish in the top 5 (of your league) and pray your big time conference doesn’t suck. That’s more security than having to win an unpredictable tournament even if you won the regular season of your conference.

  6. fatediesel - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    I like Iowa but they did not deserve to get in. Their non-conference strength of schedule was a joke and 7 of their 10 Big 10 wins were to the bottom 4 teams. None of their wins were against the top 4 Big 10 teams.

    Iowa may have finished 1 game up on Minnesota and Illinois in the conference standings but those teams both have far superior resumes to Iowa. Iowa had 0 wins against the RPI top 25, with it’s best win against RPI #31 Wisconsin. They only played 1 RPI top 75 team in the non-conference schedule, a home win over #45 Iowa State, which led to Iowa having the #311 out of conference strength of schedule. Illinois had 4 wins against the RPI top 25, with a road win at Gonzaga and a neutral win against Butler in the non-conference to go along with wins against Ohio State and Indiana. Minnesota had 3 top 25 wins and the #13 out of conference schedule.

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