Washington made a bit of history yesterday, when the Huskies became the first ever regular season champion from a Big Six conference to not make the tournament. Perhaps fans can take some sick sort of solace in the knowledge that it wasn't a close-run thing: at least six other teams apparently had a better case for bracket inclusion than Washington did.
The selection committee listed the the first six teams out as Drexel, Miami, Mississippi State, Nevada, Oral Roberts and Seton Hall. The NCAA vice president said a spot on the bracket was left open, and those six teams would have been up for voting to sneak in, until St. Bonaventure won the Atlantic 10 tourney final over Xavier, who squeezed out the last at-large spot.
How did this happen to Washington? You can look at it two ways: the conference wasn't very good, and the team wasn't very good. The Pac-12 was nothing short of woeful, with teams beating up on each other. And not the "good teams beating up on each other" sort, where Seton Hall, with a below .500 record in conference play, apparently had more of a case than Washington. A conference tournament run might've helped the Huskies—it couldn't have hurt to finish the season in any manner other than two bad losses.
For Washington, and any other team who feels they got a raw deal, Iona's going to be the whipping boy. Not that the Gaels aren't deserving (meh), but that the MAAC somehow produced two tournament teams—the same as "power conference" Pac-12. It's easy to point to Iona's 161st ranked schedule and Washington's 97th, but it's become clear in recent years that strength of schedule matters less to the committee than what you do with it. While the NCAA doesn't instruct selectors how to weight the various metrics, only RPI gets its own section in the "Principles and Procedures for Establishing the Bracket" manual. And sure enough, Iona's RPI was significantly better than Washington's or Drexel's or any of the other outsiders'.
So cheer up, Huskies. You got a 1 seed in the NIT! Considering there were at least six teams ahead of you, you can't say at least one selection committee wasn't generous.