MORAGA (CBS SF/AP) – St. Mary’s fell just short of winning the West Coast Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament last week, but still looked likely to land a spot in the expanded field of the men’s basketball tournament heading into selection Sunday. The Gaels watched in agony as 68 other teams were invited to the dance.

St. Mary’s went 24-8 this season and won a share of the WCC regular season title, but lost to Gonzaga in final of the conference tournament. The Gaels were left on the outside looking in at the big dance after losing four of their last seven games.

After his team’s snub, St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett might have become the first in history to believe that college football, with its widely derided Bowl Championship Series, has a better postseason formula than college basketball.

“As a coach, as players, all you want to know is that you’re given a fair deal,” Bennett said. “You need to go by the numbers, exactly like they do in the BCS.”

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Several ESPN analysts agreed with Bennett. ESPN’s Jay Bilas said that St. Mary’s deserved a bid over both VCU and UAB. He felt there needed to be a bit more expertise in the room where the teams’ fates are decided.

“There are some people on the committee who don’t know if the ball’s round,” said Bilas. “These are bad decisions.”

This is the first NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament since 1991 that will have no Bay Area representative. St. Mary’s and Cal will both take part in the NIT Tournament.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

  1. Doug C says:

    both the BCS and March Madness needs to be re worked

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