5 Reasons Temple Got Snubbed by NCAA Tournament Selection Committee

Despite a 23-10 season, the Temple Owls were left off the bracket. The committee's reasoning may be flawed, but here's why.

Temple basketball fans got an early Christmas gift last year when the Owls routed Kansas by 25. “I think we played about as well as we possibly could have,” Dunphy said after the game. Things were looking up for the Temple Owls, who had started the season 6-4.

Kansas finished 26-8, and received a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. But yesterday, the selection committee played the Grinch for Temple. They were left out of the NCAA tournament, and will play instead in the NIT.

Many this morning are feeling Temple was hosed. Sports Illustrated listed Temple as its No. 1 snub in the field. The Owls finished 23-10, ending the season on a 16-5 clip, and placed third in its conference. What happened?

It seems strange. Temple had an RPI ranking of 34, the second-highest of any team not to make the NCAA tournament field. The selection committee uses RPI to help it pick the field; teams with worse RPI ratings got in ahead of the Owls. Yes, Temple probably deserves to be in. UCLA is receiving most of the fan and analyst anger. It may be a snub by the committee, but let’s think through their logic. Here are five reasons Temple didn’t make it.

Their conference wasn’t very good

Temple now plays in the American Athletic Conference, which was formed out of the old Big East during conference realignments earlier this decade. Last season, the conference got a No. 1 seed in the tournament (Louisville) and saw a No. 7 seed (Connecticut) win the National Championship. Louisville is now in the ACC. The Huskies weren’t good enough to make the field this season. The selection committee put in just two teams (SMU and Cincinnati) from the American into the field.

Usually strong Memphis won’t be playing in a postseason tournament this year for the first time since 2000. But it was the bottom five of the conference that really hurt the Owls. South Florida, Houston, Central Florida and East Carolina and Tulane all had RPI ratings lower than 200. Temple beat all those teams, but it didn’t do anything to impress the committee with those wins.

They struggled against top of the AAC

Temple finished third with a 13-5 record in the American Athletic Conference. But it went just 1-5 against the top four teams, with its only win coming against fourth-place Cincinnati. (But Temple also lost to the same Bearcats.) The Owls lost twice to Tulsa, which lost to Division II Southeast Oklahoma State this season. Temple played SMU, coached by Larry Brown, three times, and the Owls led at halftime each time. They lost all three games. Had they won one of those, against a team that got a No. 6 seed in the tourney, and the Owls might have gotten in.

Two players were missing for part of the season

After going 9-22 in the 2013-14 season, Temple got a bunch of transfers this year to bolster the lineup. But Devin Coleman and Jesse Morgan didn’t play until December 18th, being forced to sit out the first semester due to NCAA eligibility rules. Morgan scored 11.8 points a game in 29.5 minutes, while Coleman played 11.3 minutes a game. This led to…

Bad losses

Without Coleman and especially Morgan, the Owls had two bad losses. One, they lost 57-50 to UNLV in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic consolation game in Brooklyn. The Owls also lost at Saint Joseph’s, 58-56, after digging themselves a big hole in the first half. Though one loss was at a neutral site and another was on the road, UNLV ranked No. 104 in the country in RPI. St. Joe’s was No. 184.

Lack of quality road wins

Temple’s best road win this year came at UConn on New Year’s Eve. The Huskies did not make the field, and were No. 70 in the RPI. Temple’s only other top-100 RPI road win was against Memphis. The committee told Colorado State it was a lack of road victories that kept it out of the tournament, and it’s likely Temple faced the same fate.

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