Two of the most shocking omissions from this year's NCAA tournament have ties to local programs BYU and Utah.
While Saint Mary's is currently No. 28 in the KenPom rankings and No. 40 in the RPI rankings, the Cougars' West Coast Conference foe was left out of the bracket Sunday. BYU handed the Gaels (28-5), which ended up earning a No. 1 seed in the NIT, a 85-72 loss in the WCC semifinals six days before Selection Sunday.
USC (23-11), meanwhile, also found itself on the outside looking in after entering last week's Pac-12 tournament on the NCAA bubble along with several other league teams, including the Utes. While UCLA and Arizona State were giving spots in the Big Dance along with league champ Arizona, the Trojans were left out, despite finishing the regular season second in the conference and reaching the Pac-12 tournament final.
Instead, USC, which has a KenPom ranking of No. 40, an RPI ranking of No. 34 and came in 37th nationally in strength of schedule, will also be a No. 1 seed in the NIT.
National media weighed in on the absence of Saint Mary's and USC in this year's NCAA tourney.
Dieter Kurtenbach of The Mercury News called the Gaels' snub a sign of two biases: "East Coast favoritism and money over quality."
"How can a team go from being voted one of the 20 best in the nation to not being in the top 68 in six days? How do you justify that?" Kurtenbach wrote.
"Sometimes the best explanation is the simplest one:
"The AP voters probably watch the games. I don’t think the 10-person selection committee watched Saint Mary’s play this year."
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times said the Trojans were likely a victim of early season struggles, despite their strong play in league action.
"The Trojans are being penalized in March for things that happened in November and December," Plaschke wrote.
"USC was beaten out by an Arizona State team that, while finishing in a heap, began the season in a sprint with 12 straight victories. USC lost four of its first dozen games and didn't find its stride until the conference season. It seems like, amazingly, USC didn't lose this bid Sunday — it lost it in December."
Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett told ESPN the new quadrant system that helps determine the NCAA Tournament field hurts the chances of mid-major programs making the tourney.
"One hundred percent," Bennett said. "Explain to me how the quadrant system is scored? There's the problem. I don't know why they do anything. I will tell you that they won't tell you how they keep score."
Warner deemed a top 40 prospect
Former BYU linebacker Fred Warner recently participated in the NFL Scouting Combine, putting up solid numbers in a few categories.
He has impressed one NFL draft expert. Kyle Crabbs of NDT Scouting Services released his 2018 NFL Draft Top 40 Big Board, and Warner is No. 34 on the list and third among linebackers. That essentially is giving the former Cougar a second-round value, the highest so far for him as the draft (April 26-28) approaches.
And finally ...
The 2018 season for the Utah Royals is nearing, with the team's inaugural game on March 24 Orlando and the franchise's first home contest April 14 against Chicago. Over the weekend, the Royals unveiled the look for their primary kit.