Bonnies boned by NCAA, get top seed in NIT
St. Bonaventure wasn’t invited to the Dance. You could say they were screwed. You could also say that they have no one to blame but themselves after letting a 12-point lead slip away Friday night in Brooklyn.
But Syracuse? Michigan? Tulsa? Vanderbilt? Wichita State?
The Orange lost five of their last six games. They lost to St. John’s. They finished 19-13.
Vanderbilt, like the Bonnies, lost its first game in its conference tournament — and to a bad Tennessee team.
Michigan, Tulsa, Wichita State also had just as many – or many more – flaws in their resumes than SBU.
An overtime loss to Davidson in the Atlantic 10 tournament left the Bonnies’ in tenuous position. A victory would have locked them into the tournament. Instead, they were left to sweat out the last couple days.
Following the loss, coach Mark Schmidt and athletic director Tim Kenney felt confidence of the Bonnies’ NCAA chances. So, too, did Joe Lunardi, who told Cox Sports Saturday morning that he felt SBU would be in the field.
This morning the Bonnies appeared to be in great shape to not only make the field but also to avoid the first four. Lunardi had them a 10 seed, Jerry Palm a 9, and Dance Card had them as a 100 percent lock.
When it comes to the NCAA tournament selection committee, nothing is guaranteed. When you finish 22-8, 14-4, with a regular season A-10 co-championship, three top 50 wins – two on the road – and a top 30 RPI, you should be in.
The committee got it wrong. The NIT it is, if you care. The Bonnies are a No. 1 seed in the ugly stepsister tourney and will host Wagner at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
It may take a day or two to get over SBU being snubbed. It may take until next November. You may never get over it.
There were so many moments the last month of the season when the Bonnies appeared destined for a spot in the NCAA tournament: the win at Saint Joseph’s, the buzzer beater against Saint Louis, overtime at Fordham, the rally against UMass on senior day, the program’s first road win over a top 25 opponent, Marcus Posley’s 47.
They went 10-1 down the stretch with two triumphs over Saint Joseph’s, who won the A-10 tournament title and earned an 8 seed.
But losses to La Salle and Davidson ultimately hurt the Bonnies. It’s tough to make a case for SBU over VCU (a 10 seed) when on consecutive days the Bonnies lost to Davidson and the Rams beat the Wildcats by 24 points.
The Bonnies’ resume also lacked a signature non-conference victory. Ohio and Buffalo were their only top 100 RPI wins. Their loss at Syracuse may have lifted the Orange in over the Bonnies.
The Bonnies were denied the program’s seventh trip to the NCAA tournament. They haven’t earned an at-large bid since 2000. Schmidt also missed out on becoming just the second coach in program history to lead SBU to two NCAA tournaments. Larry Weise is the other.
A potential trip to Madison Garden would a small parting prize for this team.
Schmidt: “The NIT is a great tournament and we hope to have a great crowd. Our goal now is to show the committee they made a mistake.”
— Bonnies MBB (@BonniesMBB) March 13, 2016
Whether the Bonnies can advance is dependent on the health of their backcourt. Posley sprained his ankle against Davidson and limped through the final minutes. Jaylen Adams, meanwhile, played one of his worst college games Friday. Schmidt said the sophomore played with a sore back, and that was obvious from his performance and the way he stiffly moved throughout the game.
After the NIT, Posley and Dion Wright will be lost to graduation. Matt Mobley, Courtney Stockard and David Andoh are on the way. The Bonnies could be an NCAA tournament team next year. Of course, it will be a challenge to match the magic and accomplishments of this season.
It isn’t very often that an SBU team wins more than 20 games, earns a conference championship and it hurts this bad.
Whether right or wrong, the Bonnies will have to wait another year to try to win their first NCAA game since March 16, 1970. That was another tough day in SBU history, when Bob Lanier was lost to injury and the Bonnies’ national championship aspirations were essentially broken.
At least then the Bonnies had their fans had the Final Four to look forward to. The NIT just won’t be the same.