(CBS) A day after being left out of the NCAA Tournament field primarily because his team’s schedule didn’t stack up to that of other bubble teams, Illinois State basketball coach Dan Muller on Monday drew national attention with a tweet asking any high-major teams to schedule a home-and-home with his Redbirds in the future.
Of course, the frustration that Muller expressed is what he’s been harboring for a long time. As Muller views it, the NCAA Tournament selection committee is now prioritizing playing games against top-50 foes above wins. And mid-majors like Illinois State — which went 27-6 but had the 158th-ranked schedule — simply can’t get enough of those games on its schedule because power-conference foes don’t want to play them. That’s largely the case whether the Redbirds have been seeking home-and-home matchups or one-off guarantee games (in which a smaller school visits a bigger school for a one-time matchup for a set amount of money).
“The challenge is when we call for those home-and-homes with the Power 5 or the Power 6 (conferences), to this point they’ve said no,” Muller said Monday night on the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score.
“(Guarantee games are) one way to do it, but that’s really the only way for us to play these games that the committee expects us to play other than tournaments over Thanksgiving and Christmas, which we play in very good tournaments. It’s frustrating because as I’ve said many times today, the thing the committee tells us to do in order to have a better chance to get in is impossible. That’s the bottom line.
“The scheduling challenges have been there probably forever, for the last 20 years. What’s changed is the committee and how they value winning as opposed to, again, top-50 games — not top-50 wins, top-50 games.”
Illinois State has called around 25 schools in the NCAA Tournament asking to schedule games, Muller has said previously, to no avail. And that’s why he takes exception to the criteria that’s laid out in front of the selection committee.
“They don’t tell you exactly what they do, which tells you this: They can do whatever they want,” Muller said. “It’s subjective, and it’s supposed to be, and that’s not going to change. There’s no way to look and only put it on paper and say, ‘This team’s in, this team’s out’ like the BCS used to before they had a committee with the playoff series in football.
“I believe the 10 people in that room tried to do the very best they can. There’s no ill will. The problem is the system and what they’re told to look at or whoever makes the decisions. Stop looking at only quality wins, because now we’ve got a team that was 2-6 in top-50 RPI games, 2-6, that gets in, so it doesn’t even matter if you win them. It just matters if you play them almost. There was a team that was 6-8 — they had 14 opportunities to play those games. We had three.
“It doesn’t matter who you lose to. It almost doesn’t matter how many of those games that you lose in certain ways. It just matters if you’ve won enough of them, and we just don’t get those opportunities. So the tiebreaker has to be something else other than quality wins or quality games played. It has to be in order for us to have a chance.”
Listen to Muller’s full interview below.