Postseason fate puzzles Golden Eagles
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Monday, March 12, 2012
3/12/12 at 6:51 AM
Scott Sutton was a little perplexed with the pairings for the National Invitation Tournament.
How did the Oral Roberts basketball team slip so far in so little time?
Earlier in the day, Sutton learned along with everyone else that the Golden Eagles had missed out on the 68-team NCAA Tournament field.
No disappointment there. Sutton figured the Eagles had played their way out of the mix with Monday's semifinal loss to Western Illinois in the Summit League Tournament.
Shock and surprise followed next, when the NCAA Selection Committee unveiled the final four teams it threw out before finalizing the field.
ORU was ranked first in a group that also included, in order, Miami (Fla.), Nevada and Drexel.
At the very least, the Eagles were one of the first four teams left out of the tournament. And by listing ORU first, it made it seem like the Eagles were the very first team out.
Is it possible that ORU had made it to the final cut?
And if so, does it mean ORU would have been in the field if St. Bonaventure hadn't upset Xavier earlier Sunday in the final of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, stealing that league's automatic berth?
"If that's true, it's sickening," Sutton said.
Later, NCAA interim vice president Greg Shaheen confirmed to ESPN that St. Bonaventure's win took away one bid from a collection of teams.
A spot on the bracket was left open before the game. Six teams - Drexel, Miami, ORU, Seton Hall, Mississippi State and Nevada - would have been put up for a vote if Xavier had won the game, Shaheen said.
But the 10-member Selection Committee never got a chance to vote on the matter, once the Bonnies won.
That news was followed with more surprise for ORU when the National Invitation Tournament released its field.
The Eagles received only a fourth seed in the 32-team tournament and will face fifth-seeded Nevada, the regular-season Western Athletic Conference champion, at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday.
How did the Eagles and Nevada's Wolf Pack go from being two of the best four teams left out of the NCAA field, to playing in a 4-5 game in the consolation tournament?
"I don't get it," Sutton said. "Putting two of the first four teams out of the (NCAA Tournament) in a 4-5 match doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But we do get a home game and we play a very talented basketball team that is a lot like ourselves.
"(Nevada) had a tremendous regular season and got upset in the semifinals of their conference tournament (by Louisiana Tech)."
The Wolf Pack went 26-6, winning 21 of its final 24 games. Sophomore guard Deonte Burton was named WAC player of the year after averaging 14.3 points and 4.3 assists per game.
ORU senior forward Dominique Morrison said the Eagles' goal of making it into the NCAA Tournament had changed to making it to New York City.
The NIT semifinals will be played in NYC's Madison Square Garden, March 27-29.
"I've never been to New York City, so I'm hoping to make it to the Garden," Morrison said.
NIT tickets priced $10 to $25 will go on sale Tuesday morning at the ORU ticket office (918-495-6000). School officials are urging fans to purchase their tickets on line at tulsaworld.com/orusports.
Season ticket holders will have Monday to purchase their same seats for Wednesday's game. After Monday, unpurchased seats will go on sale.
ABOUT THE WOLF PACK
Location: Reno, Nev.
Nickname: Wolf Pack
Head coach: David Carter (60-38)
Record: 26-6 (13-1, Western Athletic
Top Players: Sophomore guard
Deonte Burton (14.3 ppg, 4.3 apg)
was WAC player of the year. He is
joined by senior 6-foot-7 Olek Czyz
(3.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) on the all-conference
first team. Senior 6-foot-8
Dario Hunt (10.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg)
blocked 76 shots and was named to
the All-WAC second team and the
All-WAC defensive team.
Best wins: Washington, 76-73, OT;
at Montana 70-64; at New Mexico
Worst losses: Louisiana Tech 78-
73; Idaho 72-68.
UMass (21-10) at Mississippi State (21-11), 6 p.m.
Stony Brook (22-9) at Seton Hall (20-12), 6:15 p.m.
Dayton (20-12) at Iowa (17-16), 6:30 p.m.
Savannah State (21-11) at Tennessee (18-14), 7 p.m.
Akron (22-11) at Northwestern (18-13), 8 p.m.
Marshall (21-13) at Middle Tennessee (25-6), 8:15 p.m.
LSU (18-14) at Oregon (22-9), 8:30 p.m.
Texas-Arlington (24-8) at Washington (21-10), 9 p.m.
Cleveland State (22-10) at Stanford (21-11), 10 p.m.
Minnesota (19-14) at La Salle (21-12), 6 p.m.
UCF (22-10) at Drexell (27-6), 6:15 p.m.
Northern Iowa (19-13) at Saint Joseph's (20-13), 6:15 p.m.
Valparaiso (22-11) at Miami (19-12), 6:30 p.m.
Bucknell (24-9) at Arizona (23-11), 8 p.m.
Nevada (26-6) at Oral Roberts (27-6), 8:15 p.m.
Illinois State (20-13) at Mississippi (20-13), 8:30 p.m.
Texas-Arlington-Washington winner vs. Akron-Northwestern winner
LSU-Oregon winner vs. Dayton-Iowa winner
Savannah State-Tennessee winner vs. Marshall-Middle Tennessee winner
Minnesota-La Salle winner vs. Valparaiso-Miami winner
Stony Brook-Seton Hall winner vs. UMass-Mississippi State winner
UCF-Drexel winner vs. Northern Iowa-Saint Joseph's winner
Bucknell-Arizona winner vs. Nevada-Oral Roberts winner
Cleveland State-Stanford winner vs. Illinois State-Mississippi winner
Texas-Arlington-Washington-Akron-Northwestern winner vs. LSU-Oregon- Dayton-Iowa winner
Savannah State-Tennessee-Marshall-Middle Tennessee winner vs. Minnesota-La Salle-Valparaiso-Miami winner
Stony Brook-Seton Hall- UMass-Mississippi State winner vs. UCF-Drexel-Northern Iowa-Saint Joseph's winner
Bucknell-Arizona-Nevada-Oral Roberts winner vs. Cleveland State-Stanford-Illinois State-Mississippi winner
At Madison Square Garden, N.Y.
Semifinal, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
(4) Oral Roberts vs. (5) Nevada
8:15 p.m. Wednesday
Radio: KYAL fm97.1
Mike Brown 918-581-8390
ORU’s Dominique Morrison and the Golden Eagles will continue their season in the NIT. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World