2009 NCAA Tournament Snubs: For the fifth consecutive season, the non-power conference teams NCAA tournament bids declined. Of the 34 at-large bids available for the 2009 NCAA tournament, 30 were from traditional power conferences. Overall, the ACC, Big East, and Big 10 had 7 teams each make the tournament with the Big 12, and PAC-10 with 6, the Atlantic 10 and SEC with 3, and the Horizon and Mountain West Leagues with 2 teams each make the tourney. The last 6 teams to make the 2009 NCAA tournament field were Arizona, Wisconsin, Dayton, Maryland, Michigan, and Minnesota. The Bubble Teams who didn’t make it this year were headed by St. Mary’s (26-6) and San Diego State (23-9). Other bubble teams who failed to make the tournament were: SD State (23-9), Creighton (26-7), Saint Mary’s (26-6), Virginia Tech (18-14), New Mexico (21-11), Auburn (22-11), UNLV (21-10), and Penn State (22-11). The Kentucky Wildcats also failed to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1992.
Top 5 2009 NCAA Tournament Snubs
#1 2009 NCAA Tournament Snub – San Diego State Aztecs (23-9)
If the Aztecs had beaten Utah in the Mountain West conference tournament they would have gotten an automatic bid. Many believed that their schedule was strong enough to make the tournament without having to get the automatic bid. Unfortunately for the Aztecs, with only one game against a ranked team on their schedule, 23 wins just wasn’t enough. If they had beaten Arizona State (ranked at the time) earlier in the season, they may have had a stronger case for making the tourney. They very likely would have made the 2009 NCAA tournament if Mississippi State had not upset Tennessee to get the SEC automatic bid for the tournament.
#2 2009 NCAA Tournament Shocker – St. Mary’s (26-6)
St. Mary’s problem this season was the only ranked opponent that they played was Gonzaga and they didn’t do well either time that they played. In the Tournament committee’s eyes, this can’t have faired well and add on 4 other losses with other bubble teams winning their converence tourneys and you end up with St. Mary’s looking to the NIT for post-season play.
#3 2009 NCAA Tournament Shocker – Penn State Nittany Lions (22-11)
What was surprising about Penn State not making the 2009 NCAA tournament field was that other Big 10 teams with worse conference records made the tournament field. The biggest difference between State and those teams was likely their non-conference schedule earlier in the year. State likely lost out on a tournament bid with some of the conference tournaments being won by other bubble teams (Ohio State, Mississippi State).
#4 2009 NCAA Tournament Shocker – Auburn Tigers (22-11)
Auburn probably needed one more win in the SEC tournament to make this year’s NCAA tournament field. They just took about two weeks too long to get going this season to end up with a record strong enough to make the 2009 NCAA tournament. They are going to be one of the favorites to win the NIT since they finished so strongly in SEC league play this past February and March.
#5 2009 NCAA Tournament Shocker – UNLV Rebels (21-10)
Unfortunately for UNLV, they lost 3 of their last 4 games as well as back-back games against San Diego State. With no ranked teams on their schedule this season, UNLV just did not have a strong enough record with 10 losses to make the field this year. They will prove to be a strong team in the NIT tournament, however, and should be able to use the NIT to continue developement of their younger players for making a run next season at the NCAA tournament.