NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - The 2017-18 Belmont University men's basketball season has concluded, Belmont director of athletics Scott Corley confirmed Sunday night as the Bruins did not receive at-large entry to the Postseason NIT.
With 24 victories, including wins at Middle Tennessee, at Western Kentucky, vs. Murray State and vs. Vanderbilt, and annually among the nation's toughest non-conference schedules, Belmont received strong consideration for an at-large bid in the 32-team NIT field. However, with 12 of the 32 entries going to conference regular season champions across the country that did not win their conference tournament, the Bruins ran into a challenging numbers' game to accommodate at-large entries from Power 5 conferences.
"At the beginning of each basketball season, our goal is to play in the NCAA Tournament," Corley said. "That being said, the secondary goal is to earn the right to play in the National Invitation Tournament."
"When both of those opportunities did not occur this season, we were fortunate enough to be invited to both the CIT and CBI tournaments," Corley added. "However, after consulting with Coach Byrd and considering multiple factors, we have decided not to play in either tournament. The most important factor in our decision was the fact we only have eight healthy student-athletes. The way things transpired doesn't diminish what this coaching staff, team, and our four seniors accomplished this season. I am extremely proud of our basketball program and look forward to the challenge of making the NCAA Tournament next year."
For perspective, among eligible teams, Belmont had the fifth-highest RPI and seventh-highest Pomeroy rating excluded from the NCAA Tournament and NIT.
"I'm disappointed for our team and feel for our guys, in that we narrowly missed out on regular season and tournament conference championships, and an at-large NIT bid," Belmont head coach Rick Byrd said. "This is one of our better teams in this run of the last 15 years or so. They have accomplished a great deal."
Belmont (24-9) joins BYU, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina and San Diego State as one of only nine NCAA Division I programs to win 19 or more games 13 consecutive seasons. Moreover, only Belmont, BYU, Gonzaga, St. Mary's (CA), San Diego State and Wichita State outside the Power 5 conferences have been ranked Top 100 in the RPI eight consecutive seasons.