The Selection Committee ripped off the Southern Methodist University Mustangs last year when it left them out of the tournament.
The Mustangs are having another good season in 2014-15. So will they make the cut this season?
Larry Brown has turned this program around, and the Mustangs would have been a shoo-in for the tournament if Emmanuel Mudiay had attended SMU instead of going to play in China.
Nonetheless, Brown has the Mustangs playing well. After a loss to Cincinnati on Jan. 3, the Mustangs have regrouped to win eight in a row and six of those wins have been by 10 points or more.
I get that SMU doesn’t play in a strong conference, but look at the games it has lost (@Gonzaga, @Indiana, Arkansas, @Cincinnati). Three of those teams are good to really good, and the jury is still out on Cincinnati (because we never know what the Bearcats are going to give us on any particular night). It’s not like SMU has beaten top-notch teams, but this team has won games it’s supposed to win.
What I like most about the Mustangs (just from looking at their roster and statistics) is the mix of veteran and young players. Junior guard Nic Moore leads the Mustangs in scoring (14.5) and assists (5.4). Senior center Yanick Moreira is second on the team in scoring (11.9) and first in rebounding (6.6). Two other players (junior Markus Kennedy and sophomore Keith Frazier) average double-digit points, too.
The Mustangs are also dominating their league. They are tops in defensive field-goal percentage (37.6), second in defensive three-point percentage (30.0), third in free throw attempts allowed (149), second in rebounds allowed (271), and second in points allowed (55.3).
SMU boasted a lot of those same numbers last season, and it didn’t help its case with the Selection Committee. That team went 23-8 in the regular season, and beat Connecticut (twice), Memphis, and Cincinnati.
The Mustangs’ record sits at 18-4, and they have a game tonight against Cincinnati. But their résumé is not as good as it was last season.
If the Mustangs can get to 25 wins (which means they have to go 7-1 in their next eight), I think the Mustangs are worthy of a spot in the tournament. I would even consider giving SMU a No. 6 seed in the tournament.
Remember Connecticut was rewarded with a No. 7 seed last season after winning 24 regular season games.
I think SMU gets in and will win at least one, maybe two, tournament games.
But who knows what the Selection Committee will look for this season.