Two years into the Larry Brown era at SMU and the Ponies are already complaining. They should have made the NCAA tournament. Like. Hell.
Next season, however, the Ponies will be no worse than a six-seed. Right now, a top seed in the NIT feels just about right. SMU will host UC-Irvine on Wednesday in a first round NIT game.
This is the price of playing in the American Athletic Conference.
Brown told reporters on Sunday at Moody Coliseum: "When I saw Louisville got the No. 4 seed, I knew the committee didn’t have a lot of respect for our conference.”
Right and right.
A load of other teams made the tournament after No. 25 SMU, which is ranked in name only. North Carolina State slipped into the tournament despite an ish resume, along with Iowa. Both teams played in better conferences, and had a harder road.
SMU losing three straight to end the season, and four of its last seven, was an awful to way prepare a postseason resume.
The big, quality wins SMU posted were against a conference the selection committee clearly didn't like too much beyond Louisville and Cincinnati. Had SMU defeated Virginia back on Nov. 29 - a 76-73 loss - that likely would have changed its postseason destination from NIT to NCAA. SMU was 15-1 at home, and 8-8 away from Moody Coliseum.
This program, however, is in wonderful shape.
Keith Frazier, Ryan Manuel, Markus Kennedy, Sterling Brown are all scheduled to return next season, and McDonald's All-American point guard Emmanuel Mudiay is scheduled to join the team as well. Who knows? Maybe Larry Brown will come back, too.
Brown has quickly made SMU into a nationally relevant program where real players want to go. People are interested in SMU basketball. They are winning. They are crushed when they don't make the NCAA tournament.
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