The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.
(WITH VIDEO) – After watching the Racers win 25 games in a row, we thought we had a strong chance to get a bid into the NCAA Tournament. Losing to Belmont in the final round of the OVC Tournament by one point didn’t dilute the idea that we deserved a spot, regardless of the seed.
To the surprise of fans, rivals and analysts, Murray State was denied an invitation to The Big Dance. There is more to our case than rooting for our University’s team. By the record, the talent and the criteria, Murray State deserved to be in The Big Dance.
Teams make it to the tournament by winning games. Murray State remained undefeated from Nov. 30 to March 7. Analysts have continually used our schedule as a demerit against us, but winning that many games in a row is difficult, no matter what conference we’re in.
Head Coach Steve Prohm pleaded his case to the NCAA selection committee and gave a persuasive argument. We broke the mold of other bubble teams by winning as much as we did.
In our place were teams like Indiana, who lost at home to Eastern Washington. Michigan State lost at home to mid-major team Texas Southern. Purdue lost at home to Gardner-Webb and North Florida. Miami lost to Eastern Kentucky, a team in the conference that analysts doubted.
Students, fans and coaches are not the only ones who thought the Racers deserved a bid. Our conference rivals stated our case.
Rick Byrd, head coach of Belmont, said “Murray State is a NCAA Tournament team and not just a team that can win a game in the tournament, but can win multiple games.”
Sean Woods, head coach of Morehead State, that “(Murray State) is worthy of an at-large bid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”
Upon hearing Murray State didn’t get a bid, Dick Vitale asserted the NCAA Tournament rewards mediocrity by giving bids to teams that lost an upward of 13 games in the regular season.
Despite the fact Murray State lost its conference tournament, he agreed with us – the current system is unfair.
Murray State had an incredible amount of support nationwide. The hashtag #RacersDeserveABid was the third-highest trending topic on Twitter at one point. Alumni and people who have never stepped foot in Murray said we should be there. The University even made a music video, claiming the “Racers are for real.”
The momentum we created both within the University and outside its walls were commendable. To think it was all in vain is disappointing. As students, we’re especially hurt. It’s an injury to our pride.
If anything, we should be thankful the Racers have their chance in the National Invitational Tournament as a third seed. If we can prove that we deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament, the least we can do is prove that we are talented in another tournament.
With more than 300 Division 1 teams in the nation, it’s fair to say choosing teams based on our hearts isn’t the best. It’s not just our passion for Murray State basketball that everyone believes in – it’s what they accomplished.
Murray State’s denial into a tournament it deserved to be in should make the NCAA reconsider its criteria for who does and doesn’t get in.