Colorado’s Ricardo Patton, the coach of one of three Big 12 Conference bubble teams not invited to the NCAA Tournament, spoke about his displeasure in Monday’s Big 12 conference call.
“We certainly have a great deal of regret that we weren’t selected,” Patton said. “I will always believe that the fourth-best team in the Big 12 is worthy of an NCAA bid.”
Colorado (18-10) finished 10-6 in the conference. In the eight-year history of the conference, only one team, Nebraska in 1997-98, finished four games above .500 in league play and missed the NCAA Tournament.
Despite the Buffaloes’ 79-69 loss to Texas Tech in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday, Patton said he could not understand why the selection committee ignored his team while the Red Raiders, who finished fifth at 9-7, received a No. 8 seed in the East Rutherford region.
“Probably (Texas Tech coach) Bobby Knight sells more tickets,” Patton said. “His athletic director (Gerald Myers) was on the selection committee so I’m sure he wasn’t in there fighting for Colorado. I guess no one else in the league office was fighting for Colorado and maybe no one from our office was fighting for Colorado and thus we were left out.”
Colorado defeated the Red Raiders 85-75 on Feb. 18 in Boulder, Colo., but lacked quality wins. Despite their 10-6 league record, the Buffaloes did not defeat any of the three teams above them in the league.
Nonconference struggles hurt Colorado as well. Colorado’s best nonconference win came against California at home in early December. Losses to Richmond and Pepperdine might have been enough to keep them from the NCAA Tournament, but Patton suggested Texas Tech had similar losses that were not an issue.
“People talk about the Richmond game hurting us, but did the SMU game not hurt Texas Tech?” he said.
Patton brought up coaching prestige again, pointing to Louisville, which received a No. 10 seed in the Atlanta region.
“You take a team like Louisville, who of course has the great coach Rick Pitino and probably sells more tickets than Ricardo Patton and Colorado, that lost eight of their last 12 games,” Patton said. “I didn’t hear anyone talking about them on the bubble.
“We won five out of our last six games, but yet everyone was talking about us being on the bubble.”
Colorado accepted a bid to the NIT and will play at Oregon (15-12) in the first round on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, who also bounced from the bubble to the NIT, supported Patton’s argument.
“I just know that Colorado, going 10-6 in this conference, deserved to be in,” Sampson said.
PARITY REIGNS: The Big 12 received four NCAA bids, tied for the fewest it has garnered. Three of the league’s participants, Oklahoma State (No. 2), Texas (No. 3) and Kansas (No. 4), received significant consideration and are threats to advance deep into the tournament.
Kansas coach Bill Self, whose Jayhawks face Illinois-Chicago in the St. Louis region Friday in Kansas City, said he sees significant parity in the brackets.
“There’s not a nickel’s worth of difference, in my opinion, between a 5 seed and a 12 seed or a 4 seed and a 13 seed,” Self said. “There’s less difference in those seeds today than there has been in any point in time probably in college basketball history.”
Self struggled to pick a favorite in his region, noting the overall strength of the tournament.
“You can’t tell me there’s much difference between Arizona (a No. 9 seed) and somebody else that’s a No. 4 or 5 seed, like Kansas,” Self said.
“That would be a coin-flip game, at best.”
NIT PRIDE: Because the Big 12 sent four teams to the NCAAs, six were eligible for the NIT and all but Kansas State were invited.
Oklahoma will host Louisiana State on Wednesday and would face Missouri if both teams win. Iowa State hosts Georgia the same night, and Nebraska travels to in-state rival Creighton tonight.