UNCG snubbed for NCAA tourney
GREENSBORO, NC – UNC Greensboro was on the outside looking in on Monday night when the NCAA tournament's field of 64 was announced.
The Spartans (16-4-3) were hoping for their second consecutive at-large bid into the tournament's field of 64 teams. Thirty-four teams receive at-large bids into the tournament. UNCG played to a 0-0 tie with Western Carolina in the Southern Conference Tournament final on Sunday. Western Carolina won the championship and the automatic bid in a penalty kick shootout, 2-0.
The Spartans, unbeaten in their last 14 matches (11-0-3), were left out of the field in favor of Georgia, Auburn and James Madison. Georgia (11-10-1) made it to the SEC final with a win over Florida, but had 10 losses during the season and lost to Tennessee (10-10-1) in the final. Auburn had eight losses on the season (12-8-1) to make for the sixth SEC team selected, but James Madison was the interesting selection. James Madison (12-6-2) lost to George Mason at home, a team that UNCG trounced, 6-3. The Spartans also beat VCU, who beat James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va., as well.
The Dukes did own a tie against No. 14 West Virginia and a win over No. 17 Penn State. During the team's selection viewing, Georgia, Auburn and James Madison came up on the board early, and the Spartans knew they were in trouble.
Another in-state team with a gripe in the selections was East Carolina, whose RPI was believed to be a few slots higher than the Spartans', but was left out of the field.
"I am proud of our club" said UNCG coach Eddie Radwanski, whose team closed out the season with five consecutive shutouts and allowed just three goals over the final 13 matches. "We won a regular-season conference championship and we played right down to the wire for the automatic bid. It is disheartening to sit here and see our name not come on the board. But we should still be proud of the year we had."
One spot that may have hurt the Spartans was the lack of a marquee win. For its part, UNCG went to the West Coast and beat a Santa Clara team that was ranked No. 15 in the nation at the time. However, Santa Clara, traditionally a national power, fell apart this season and finished just 4-12-4.
The Spartans also suffered an early overtime loss to Utah at home. UNCG's other losses were to Stanford, Duke and Wake Forest - all teams that were in the Top 16 seeds during the selection process.
Last season, UNCG was 15-4-1 when it was rewarded with an at-large selection into the NCAA tournament. The Spartans, seeded third at the Chapel Hill site, knocked off second-seeded Memphis, 1-0, before losing to North Carolina in the second round, 3-1. UNCG was hoping for its third straight NCAA tournament bid. In 2006, the Spartans were an automatic qualifier into the tournament, falling to Oklahoma State in the opening round, 2-0. UNCG had made the tournament eight times in the last 12 seasons.
UNCG was rated No. 48 in the RPI at the beginning of last week, although the RPI is not the only tool used by the committee in determining selections.
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