26-win Belmont miffed after missing out on NCAA and NIT fields

The nation's winningest team can't find a postseason date. 

Belmont didn't receive an invitation to the NCAA or NIT tournaments on Sunday after posting a 26-4 record, tied with Gonzaga for the highest win total in college basketball. Unfortunately for the Bruins, one of those wins did not arrive in the OVC championship game, which they lost to Morehead State. 

The Eagles instead earned the conference's automatic bid, leaving the Bruins to sweat a long-shot bid for the NCAA tournament on Sunday. It did not arrive. 

But surely 26 wins is good enough to get into the NIT, right? Wrong. The NIT bracket was announced shortly after the NCAA field. Belmont was nowhere to be found. This is when Belmont took notice on the record.

Belmont had a weak NCAA case

To be clear, Belmont's resume is not NCAA-worthy, despite the lofty win total. Of its 26 wins, a grand total of zero arrived against Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 2 teams. In fact, it didn't play any Quadrant 1 teams and lost its only game against a Quadrant 2 team. Its NET ranking is 90. Its KenPom ranking is 106, nowhere near the NCAA cut line. 

The OVC is a one-bid league, and Belmont didn't play a strong enough non-conference schedule to warrant at-large consideration. 

Head coach Casey Alexander admitted as much after losing the OVC title game. 

"I don't feel like (we deserve a spot in the NCAA Tournament) at the moment," Alexander said, per the Nashville Post. "We can put our case together, but honestly, I don't think anyone cares what we think. 

"I hope we have some basketball left to play somewhere. If we do, we'll be ready to go."

26 wins not good enough for NIT

But the NIT field — even one that's whittled down to 16 teams from 32 this season — seems like the right spot for a 26-win team that missed the NCAA cut. Normally teams that win their conference's regular season and don't make the NCAA Tournament earn an automatic NIT bid. But the reduced field means that there are no automatic bids this season, and Belmont was cut as the first team out. 

Casey Alexander's Bruins will miss out on postseason play for a second straight 26-win season. (Photo by Michael Allio/Getty Images)
Casey Alexander's Bruins will miss out on postseason play for a second straight 26-win season. (Photo by Michael Allio/Getty Images)

Alexander was understandably disappointed — especially after securing an NCAA bid last season only to see the tournament wiped out by COVID-19.

"To think over the last two years together our group had two conference championships, one tournament championship — not to mention 30 consecutive league wins — but no postseason games is a tough pill to swallow," Alexander said, per The Tennessean.

The Bruins will have to hope for 26 wins again next season and — that one of them arrives in the OVC title game. 

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