Illinois State fumes over ‘idiotic, stupid’ NCAA tournament exclusion

Illinois State
Illinois State head coach Dan Muller is seen on the sidelines during the first half against Wichita State in the MVC championship game on Sunday, March 5, 2017, in St. Louis.

Only 16 teams in Division I won more games than Illinois State did this season.

All victories are not created equal, of course, and the NCAA Tournament selection committee was not impressed with how the Redbirds accumulated their 27-6 record.

March Madness took on a different meaning in Bloomington-Normal on Sunday night after Illinois State learned it will not be among the 68 teams invited to the Big Dance.

“I’m pretty upset, mad-slash-sad, shocked,” said ISU point guard Paris Lee, a Proviso East product and the Missouri Valley Player of the Year. “Everybody in that locker room is human. Everybody is hurt.”

Illinois State coach Dan Muller said: “It is idiotic to me.”

Strength of schedule, or lack thereof, proved to be the Redbirds’ undoing as the final four at-large bids went to teams from major conferences — USC (24-9), Providence (20-12), Wake Forest (19-13) and Kansas State (20-13).

Despite its RPI ranking of 33, Illinois State had to settle for one of the four top seeds in the NIT.

“What the committee is asking for is not possible sometimes,” Muller said. “Our staff probably called 25 of the schools that made it to see if they would play us. What do they want us to…