La Salle hopes it gets judged on all 30 games, not just the last two
La Salle has been consistent all season but the Explorers picked an inopportune time to have their first consecutive-game losing streak of the season.
It's likely the Explorers could have punched their NCAA ticket with either a win in their season-ending game at St. Louis or in their quarterfinal Atlantic Ten tournament matchup with Butler at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
In both cases, the Explorers fell well short, losing by a combined 35 points. In both games they trailed by just two points at halftime.
So now there will be many anxious Explorers fans watching Selection Sunday, hoping that La Salle (21-9) gets the call to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1992.
Coach John Giannini, after Friday's 69-58 loss to Butler, talked about being judged by the entire 30-game slate, not the last two. And then he added, "By the way our [last two losses] are to potential Final Four teams."
While coaches in every conference talk about the merits of teams they lose against, this isn't hyperbole. Both St. Louis and Butler could make deep runs.
Yet this now about La Salle.
The Explorers have been on everybody's NCAA radar since one of the greatest weeks in recent school history when they defeated visiting Butler, 54-53 on Jan. 23 and then earned a 69-61 win at VCU on Jan. 26.
The A-10 has been lauded for its competitive nature and there had been earlier predictions that five of its teams could earn bids. If that happens, La Salle should be feeling good.
St. Louis, VCU and Butler are locks and third-seeded Temple, despite Friday's 79-74 quarterfinal loss to Massachusetts, should be in. La Salle would likely be the fifth if five are selected.
At least the Explorers had a better Saturday than Friday. Many of their fellow bubble teams, which had to lose for La Salle to stand any realistic chance, did so.
Take Massachusetts for example.
The Minutemen, who eliminated Temple from the A-10 tournament with Friday's 79-74 win, could have been a threat to steal a spot, but probably not after losing in Saturday's semifinal to VCU.
Not that RPI is the sole indicator, but UMass's was 56 following the loss.
As of Saturday evening, following the two A-10 semifinal games, La Salle had a 45 RPI.
Other factors that La Salle proponents will point out are the wins over Butler and VCU, and a victory over a Villanova team that is expected to earn a tournament bid. Plus the Explorers finished tied for third in the competitive A-10 along with Temple and Butler.
Whether it is enough remains to be seen.
Butler coach Brad Stevens endorsed La Salle as a tournament team, calling the Explorers a "matchup nightmare."
Yet getting endorsements from fellow conference coaches is common.
Nothing matters other than what the 10-person NCAA tournament committee decides.
The season is judged on 30 games, but the last two could have provided La Salle assurance. Instead the Explorers will be nervously tuned to their televisions, and unlike the last two games, unable to control their own destiny.
Contact Marc Narducci at email@example.com. Follow @sjnard on Twitter.