Illinois State University basketball coach Dan Muller fired off a tweet Monday that reverberated through college basketball. The viral tweet came on the heels of the Redbirds being passed up for an "at-large" bid March 12 to play in the upcoming NCAA March Madness tournament. Despite it's 27-6 season record, ISU was told it didn't have enough "quality wins" against strong opponents to be selected.
Muller's Monday tweet tweaked the NCAA, and encouraged teams in the so called "Power Conferences" that have refused to play ISU, to contact him. Muller said the tweet wasn't strategic.
"The only strategy was to use a little humor," said Muller. "But also be serious about a situation I see and have seen in the last few years with the tournament. It's concerning."
Though Muller and other coaches of so called "mid-major" conference teams have found it more difficult than ever to schedule "quality teams" in the last few years, thus limiting opportunities for those teams to gain "quality wins," he's focusing on the NCAA tournament selection committee.
"I think those 10 people in that room (selection committee) are trying to do their best," said Muller. "But I think they look at numbers and decide what's important to them. I don't know if they understand the issues that go into scheduling."
Muller said he is reaching out through what he said are proper channels within the NCAA to express his frustration and offer solutions. As for legislating schedules requiring all teams, for example, to adhere to a balanced schedule or play a certain amount of road games, Muller adamantly said no.
"Each program and each coach needs to do what's best for their program," said Muller. "And within that you work with the NCAA. Obviously there are rules you have to abide by, like the number of games you need to play. But other than that, you start legislating, you're getting way too involved."
Muller reiterated that his beef is with the selection committee, not with the teams that have refused to schedule ISU.
"I just want the committee to understand the challenges, and not makes excuses of 'this is why we didn't let you in,' when it's not possible to change," said Muller.
Illinois State will host UC-Irvine in a first round NIT matchup March 15 in Redbird Arena. Game time is 8:30 p..m. The Redbirds will have home-court advantage in all three first round games should they keep winning.
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