MVC: State Snub Still Smarts

By - October 30, 2006

Perhaps no single anecdote crystalizes the perceived slight of MVC schools better than Missouri State, which made national headlines on Selection Sunday when the Bears missed the NCAA Tournament despite having the best RPI standing (No. 21) of a team that didn't crack the tourney field.

Barry Hinson's club finished the season at 20-8 overall with a 12-6 mark in league play -- good for a second-place finish in the nation's sixth-best conference. Its worst loss from an RPI standpoint was a four-point setback on the road against SEC staple Arkansas, a ballclub that would go on to make the tournament with an at-large bid.

So have the last seven months healed any wounds?

"Absolutely not," said Hinson, deadly serious. "You've just got to move on. I think there's two ways you can approach it: You can be angry or you can be motivated. We chose not to be angry, we chose to be disappointed but hopefully it will be a motivating factor for us with the experience that we've got coming back this year."

Hinson, the eighth-year coach of the Bears, insists that the experience did nothing to help elucidate the cloudy principles by which teams are selected to the Big Dance.

"I think that's the hardest part because there's so much gray area involved. You'd like to be able to tell your players that this is exactly how we do things. The BCS folks turn out [rankings] each and every week -- USC got beat this weekend, it changes and you see who's one, two and three. We don't know that," Hinson said, understandably impassioned on the subject. "One week they say we're going to use the RPI, the next week we're not. So I would just like for a definitve answer, something a little more black and white, to explain to our players.

"It's not me who it's important to. It's two seniors -- Kellen Easley and Deke Thompson -- who spent their entire careers wanting to play in the NCAA tournament and didn't get to."

Posted by at 10:40 AM on October 30, 2006

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