Mike Boynton is not bitter about Oklahoma State's exclusion from the NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys' first-year coach is disappointed and laments missed opportunities but is not throwing a temper tantrum like we've seen in the past from snubbed coaches. Boynton, however, does have one issue with the selection process.
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"These are people and everybody's got a different way of viewing things and value different things," Boynton said on a media call on Monday. "Unless it becomes a computerized system I don't think it'll ever be perfect. And if it was a computerized system … the 69th, 70th and 71st teams will always feel like, 'What was it that we could've done?' "
Oklahoma State was not the 69th, 70th or 71st team, though that's hardly relevant to Boynton's point. His point is, "What was it that we could've done?"
They could've not blown a 12-point second-half lead vs. Arkansas, as he noted on Monday. Or not blown a 10-point second-half lead vs. Texas or not allowed a 13-1 second-half run by Kansas State in an eventual loss.
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"While we're disappointed we certainly feel like we were worthy of being included," he added. "We understand that there were probably some more things that we could've controlled better and we didn't necessarily do those things."
There were also some things they couldn't have controlled better. Two years ago, they signed on for the Legends Classic, an early-season tournament with home-site games followed by championship round games in Brooklyn. Also in the 2017 field were Pittsburgh and Texas A&M, among others. Oklahoma State was smashed by the Aggies but beat Pittsburgh, though that was a win that proved to be meaningless as the Panthers stumbled to an eight-win season.
"I have a hard time with some of the scheduling justifications," Boynton said. "Because you don't know how good your schedule is until after you play it.
"That's the only argument I have, specifically like with regards to our Pitt game. That's a game that normally is a top-75 game at worst and for them to be a team that's in the late 200s, how do you know that going in? So that's the just one thing that I just don't know much I agree with but at the same time, like I said, I think those people make the decisions they thought was best."
Pittsburgh's RPI the last seven years, in order from 2010-11 through 2016-17: 7th, 95th, 43rd, 39th, 74th, 51st and 73rd.
A neutral-site win over RPI-95 Pittsburgh would've been a Quadrant 2 on Oklahoma State's Team Sheet, their ninth Q1 or Q2 win. Instead, the RPI-217 Panthers became a Quadrant 4 game, aka a game that you damn well better not lose — and one that carries no weight even if you win by 50.
"The Pitt game was scheduled two coaches ago. So there's nothing I can do about that . . . You do the best you can with the information you have available at the time. At that time, Pitt was a top-30 program."
Is Boynton right? And if so, what can be done about it?
First, Pittsburgh was not a top-30 program when the game was scheduled, though, again, that's hardly the point.
Second, Pittsburgh is a good example of a program that's imploded since Oklahoma State agreed to play in the Legends Classic but a terrible example of the scheduling problem. They did not schedule a single game or home-and-home series vs. Pittsburgh. It was a tournament with other teams and no guarantee of a Pittsburgh game at the time they joined the tournament.
Third, he's right that you never know how good an opponent is until after the season.
For example, Miami (FL) beat Minnesota on the road on Nov. 29. At the time, the Gophers were widely considered a Final Four contender and this was an elite win. As Minnesota plummeted to RPI-171, that game went from a high-end Q1 win to an irrelevant Q3 win.
However, this works both ways. Texas Tech was not a preseason RPI-top-30 team. They were an 11-seed in Preseason Bracketology. But the Red Raiders finished as RPI-23 and were two Quadrant 1 games for Oklahoma State, one of which the Cowboys won.
Fourth, and most importantly, can anything be done about it? Hell no.
The committee can't weigh scheduling time for hundreds of games. Since Oklahoma State thought they were entering a tournament with a reliably strong Pittsburgh team, do they get credit for trying? Sure; here's your Pop-Tart.
Mike Boynton has a valid point and his frustration is justified. There's just nothing the committee can about it.