HomeSportsRick Pitino says St. John's will skip NIT after only 3 Big...

Rick Pitino says St. John’s will skip NIT after only 3 Big East teams make Big Dance

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Dreams die hard, particularly in March. The Big East Conference found that out Sunday as three 20-win teams — Providence, Seton Hall and St. John’s — were all snubbed by the NCAA selection committee.

[2024 NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket]

Shortly after the disappointment, coach Rick Pitino told the National Invitation Tournament selection committee that St. John’s didn’t want to play in the also-ran event.

“After thorough consideration of all that goes into postseason participation, we believe at this time it is best for our team and basketball program to prepare for next season,” Pitino said in a statement. Had the Red Storm gotten it, Pitino would have led his sixth school into the NCAA Tournament.

All of this followed a Selection Sunday in which the committee tasked with picking the 68 teams made it clear that their task this time around was particularly hard. Unexpected, bid-stealing programs winning conference titles were blamed for most of the distress — and there were plenty of those.

Seton Hall was among the first four out of the tournament. Providence and St. John’s were even further down their lists as only three conference teams were picked. Marquette is a 2-seed and Creighton a 3-seed and both are looking up at the league tourney champion, UConn.

“To me, the whole thing is kind of shell game,” said UConn coach Danny Hurley, whose defending national champions are the No. 1 seed in the East Region. “In the end, it just comes down to what the committee values.”

The selection committee said Oklahoma, 28-win Indiana State, Seton Hall and Pittsburgh were the first four teams left out. NCAA selection committee chairman Charles McClelland, commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, said five bids were stolen during the conference tournaments — and one of those was going to go to Indiana State, which fell in the final of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament to Drake.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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