March Madness 2019: Which Are the Biggest Teams Left out of the NCAA Tournament?

Clemson Tigers
Clyde Trapp #0 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after a play against the NC State Wolfpack during their game in the second round of the 2019 Men's ACC Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 13, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

With Selection Sunday in the history books, 68 teams can now look forward to this year's NCAA Tournament. For a number of other schools, however, it is time to wonder what could have been, rue missed chances and question whether they deserved to be excluded from the Big Dance.

The 36 at-large bids awarded to teams that join the 32 champions from Division I conferences can often be controversial and some of this year's selections have continued the theme.

North Carolina State went 22-11 for the season and 9-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference but didn't even make the list of the first four teams left out. The Wolfpack made it to the quarter finals of the conference tournament where they lost to number-one seeded Virginia, but that wasn't enough to impress the committee of selectors.

The NET ranking was introduced this season to replace the RPI as a more refined analytical system, which takes into consideration game results, strength of schedule, game location and scoring margin as well as net efficiency at both ends of the court.

At 33, North Carolina State had the highest NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) ranking of the teams that missed out, much to the disappointment of athletic director Debbie Yow.

"Based on the metrics […] that the NCAA indicated they would use to evaluate team performance, we are disappointed for our athletes, coaches and fans that our total body of work was not rewarded with selection to the NCAA Tournament," Yow was quoted as saying by ESPN.

North Carolina State wasn't the only ACC school with a high NET to be left out. Clemson had a NET of 35 but didn't make it to the Big Dance.

By comparison, Belmont, Temple, Arizona State and St. John's—the last four at-large teams that will play in the First Four round in Dayton, Ohio—had a NET rating of 47, 56, 63 and 73 respectively.

Clemson and North Carolina State will be number two seeds in the National Invitation Tournament, the annual competition which now serves as a consolation tournament for teams that have missed out on a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Texas Christian University, Indiana, Alabama and UNC Greensboro are the four number one seeds in the NIT after being designated as the First Four Out by the NCAA.

The Horned Frogs went 20-13 for the season, but not even sweeping Iowa State and Texas and beating Florida was enough to qualify for the Big Dance, largely because of an abysmal 2-9 record in Quadrant 1 Games.

TCU had a NET rating of 52, slightly higher than Indiana's 54. The Hoosiers went 17-15 for the season but they were weighed down by losses against smaller teams.

Alabama finished the regular season with an 8-10 record against SEC opponents but their bid for a spot in the NCAA Tournament was derailed by losses to Florida and Georgia State. The Crimson Tide, which had a NET rating of 59, was 3-10 against Quadrant 1 opponents and there was little room for complaint.

"We don't have anyone else to blame," Alabama head coach Avery Johnson told the Associated Press. "We're playing in the NIT because we just weren't good enough during the regular season, and we weren't consistent enough."

UNC Greensboro, meanwhile, had a spot in the Big Dance snatched away at the eleventh hour. The NCAA said the Spartans, which finished the season with a NET rating of 60, were in the tournament until Oregon won the Pac-12 tournament.

The Ducks defeated number-one seeded Washington 68-48 to return to the Big Dance after last year's absence.