Murray State’s at-large NCAA Tourney bid chances are Slim to none and Slim just left town. The Racers’ non-conference schedule is not tourney worthy.
Since Murray State was upset by Belmont in the finals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament there has been speculation as to whether the Racers will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. They will not. The Racers do not have a tournament worthy non-conference resume. Sure, everybody feels bad that they had such a great season, but then bowed out in the OVC finals. Everybody except Belmont. In a conference like the OVC, you must win the conference tournament to get in to the Big Dance. Various commentators were hedging and hemming and hawing about Murray State’s chances now of an at-large bid, but surely they were really just in the shock of the moment, being nice about it and giving a sympathy vote. There is no way they could really think Murray State’s non-con schedule would give them a shot. The Racers are going to the NIT with a guaranteed bid as a regular season conference champion who did not get it done in the conference tourney which carries the NCAA automatic bid.
Take a look at the Racers non-conference schedule. Their best wins are probably Illinois State, Evansville and Western Kentucky. That is not going to get it done. For the purposes of an at-large bid there is not a quality win there. Additionally, Murray State had bad losses to Houston, Portland and Valpo. Furthermore, even thought the Racers have a gaudy 27 wins, two of those wins were against BRE, a cheese, and BET, a television network. At least that is what is says on ESPN’s schedule. http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/team/_/id/93/murray-st-racers A further inspection of these two entities reveal that they are non-Division I competition in the form of Brescia, an Italian lower division soccer team, and Bethel, a church league team. These are not even Division II teams. Nor are they Division III. They are NAIA teams. Smashing victories against NAIA teams do not get you into the NCAA Tournament.
Murray State will probably be a number one seed in the NIT and will have a good chance of advancing to New York. But with their non-conference schedule, and the OVC’s status as a one-bid league, they are not going to the Big Dance and they should not be mentioned as being on the bubble. That would only do a disservice to those teams with legitimate tournament resumes developed by playing and winning games in multi-bid conferences and against quality non-conference competition. Next year Murray State should try to travel to a couple of Power 5 teams, preferably good ones, and take a chance of picking up a good road win or two instead scheduling gimmes against NAIA teams. That is the brutal reality of life in a one bid league.