UTEP's hopes of an at large NCAA Tournament bid was wiped out after the buzzer sounded in Huntington, West Virginia via the loss at Marshall.
And with both UAB and Middle Tennessee each knocking off LA Tech and Old Dominion in the C-USA Tournament, UTEP went from a NIT lock at the the start of the C-USA Tourney, to "on the bubble" of the 32 team consolation tourney at the end of Friday's action.
Some other mid-major conference tourney runs also pushed UTEP down the NIT pecking order with unexpected NCAA auto bids.
Not the main reasons why UTEP is on the NIT bubble, but most notably Wyoming's run to the Mountain West title should give the MWC four NCAA teams, and Murray State's stumble has the Racers on the outside looking in at the big dance with a NIT bid already in tact, pushing down NCAA bubble teams like UCLA, Texas, Old Dominion, and Miami as the four possible number one seeds in the NIT.
Thus making it harder for UTEP's case with a number of middle of the pack Power Conference teams filling up the projected field.
The true NIT bubble is basically 10 teams for 5 spots: GW, Bama, Michigan, ASU, Yale, UTEP, Florida, Vandy, Toledo, Cal— John Templon (@nybuckets) March 15, 2015
Our combined (me and asalom) projections have UTEP as one of the last two or three out, Alabama, George Washington, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, and Michigan is who we think would burst our NIT bubble out of that last list.
Had ODU or LA Tech won the C-USA Tournament, UTEP would be in the NIT, but now the fate is up the NIT selection committee.
Tim Floyd told the El Paso Times the Miners have already turned down a CBI Invitation, so its NIT or bust for the 2014-15 postseason.
One thing I feel that can maybe help UTEP is their RPI has been in the top-100 for most of the season, but the losses to Southern Miss., Marshall, and even the losses to NMSU on the road, and Middle Tennessee may raise some major red flags for the Miners chances at a NIT banner.
The NIT Selection Show will be aired on ESPNU starting at 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time, The NCAA Tournament Selection Show starts at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time on CBS.
Best Wins: Xavier, Old Dominion, Kent State?
Bad losses: Marshall, Southern Miss. Middle Tennessee
Expected record vs Top 100 RPI teams: 3-4