Rick Pitino slams 'fraudulent' NET rankings after St. John's NCAA tournament snub

While Rick Pitino acknowledged that “bitterness doesn't help” after St. John's was snubbed by the NCAA selection committee, the coach criticized the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings that play a major role in evaluating college basketball teams.

“I think we all should probably never mention that word (NET) again because I think it's fraudulent,” Pitino told SNY on Selection Sunday, after the Red Storm missed the NCAA Tournament.

St. John's entered the day on the bubble after losing to defending national champion and overall top seed UConn by five points in the Big East Tournament semifinals on Friday. The Red Storm (20-13 overall and 11-9 in the Big East) had a No. 32 net ranking, which was second best to teams missing the tournament behind Indiana State at No. 28.

“I think we have good strength of schedule (in) KenPom (rankings),” Pitino said. “We tried to play a tough schedule, we tried to do things the right way, but we didn't succeed.”

“I never make excuses,” Pitino continued. “I respect the committee for what they're doing. They're giving their time, they're giving their energy to it. They didn't think we were up to their standards and we're going to take it very positively as guys and move forward.”

Despite six straight wins before losing to UConn, St. John's was not one of the top four teams to do so Miss the tournament. Those were Oklahoma (net rank: No. 46), Seton Hall (No. 67), Indiana State and Pittsburgh (No. 40). St. John's University will decline to make a bid to the NIT, Pitino said in a statement Sunday.

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“First and foremost, we have great respect for the National Invitation Tournament and St. John’s history in this event,” the statement said. “After thorough consideration of everything involved in participating in the postseason, we believe at this time it is best for our team and basketball program to prepare for the upcoming season.

“We remain focused on building a championship-caliber basketball program here in St. John's. I would like to thank all of our fans for their amazing support this past season and look forward to a bright future for St. John's basketball.”

The Big East will be represented by three teams in March Madness, with UConn (No. 1 East Region), Marquette (No. 2 South Region) and Creighton (No. 3 Midwest Region).

“We're not going to complain, we're not going to say we made a mistake,” Pitino said. “None of this helps. Bitterness doesn't help. I've had enough gallbladder in my life to last a lifetime.”

Pitino joined St. John's last year after leading Iona to an NCAA Tournament and MAAC Tournament appearance. The Basketball Hall of Fame coach won national titles with Kentucky and Louisville and made seven Final Four appearances (with Providence, Kentucky and Louisville).

Pitino's son, Richard Pitino, coaches New Mexico, which will appear in the NCAA Tournament as the No. 11 seed in the West Region.

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(Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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