Illinois State men's basketball coach Dan Muller is clearly displeased with the selection committee's decision to leave his team out of the NCAA tournament field, and he has taken to Twitter to vent his frustration.
ACC BIG 10 BIG 12 SEC PAC 12 BIG EAST. It's me again. Looking 4 home & home next year. Pls call me 4 chance 4 QUALITY road win, top 33 RPI pic.twitter.com/zYAZpR3kJn— Dan Muller (@DanMuller) March 13, 2017
Illinois State finished 27-6 overall and 17-1 in the Missouri Valley, but the Redbirds couldn't get past Wichita State in the conference tournament final. The Shockers earned the league's automatic bid, and the committee declined to award the Redbirds an at-large spot.
But Muller did get a response from Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork.
.Our people (Twitterless AK) are ready @DanMuller— Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) March 13, 2017
Your bitmoji game is strong. Good luck in the NIT.
Muller tweeted that the dates still need to get worked out but that a matchup between Ole Miss and Illinois State is "a done deal if we do."
Talked to AK (Hope it was him & not Randy). Need to figure out dates but it's a done deal if we do. AK said it's the TWARD invitational. pic.twitter.com/NCOiWexjW3— Dan Muller (@DanMuller) March 13, 2017
After Illinois State knew its tournament hopes were dashed Sunday, players and coaches were quick to vent their feelings about being snubbed.
Muller, meanwhile, said the circumstances were "idiotic to me."
But Muller's tweet goes to the heart of the issue for many mid-major teams. The committee frequently denies at-large bids to teams in non-Power 5 conferences, often citing their nonconference schedules as the biggest roadblock. As Muller's tweet indicates, many Power 5 schools are reluctant to schedule games with quality mid-majors. They are less reliant on the games to bolster their NCAA résumés and fear that a loss would hurt them.
This reality puts schools such as Illinois State in a precarious position. They try to get games to strengthen their schedules but have trouble finding takers.
"What the committee is asking for is not possible sometimes," Muller said, according to the Tribune. "Our staff probably called 25 of the schools that made it to see if they would play us. What do they want us to do?"
Even Wichita State, which finished the regular-season 30-4 and ranked 20th in the nation, was stung because of its nonconference slate. The Shockers were awarded a 10-seed, a slap that coach Gregg Marshall did not let slide.
"I'm just glad they didn't forget about us,'' Marshall said Sunday.