Men's bracket released!
|St. Joseph's (L.I.) made the
field as the NCAA took at least one at-large team from each region,
even the 35-team ones.
SJLI athletics photo
Well, now this is an interesting bracket! Download it here:
So, the D3hoops.com projection hit on 60 of 62 teams, including a pretty close representation of the Hope pod, where they chose to do what we described was possible and send Westminster 300 miles further.
What was missed?
The NCAA chose to take St. Joseph's (L.I.), with its sub-.500 strength of schedule but 21-3 regional record, as well as NYU, over Keene State and WPI.
NYU also had a sub-.500 strength of schedule, and went 20-5 in-region with that .494 mark, but was selected. WPI was 18-7 in-region with a .585 strength of schedule, a significant difference. Keene State was 16-7 in-region with a .573 SOS.
Instead of Whitworth getting a first-round bye and the home game the final regional rankings will likely say they deserved, their reward is to be sent on a plane to Texas. That bye went to Virginia Wesleyan, instead, which definitely did not need geographical help.
Why didn't MIT get picked to host? The committee again gave four host sites to the East Region and Atlantic Region, which combine to have 11 teams in the field, while 11 teams in the Northeast alone also get just two host sites.
Ken Schumann, the athletic director at Pacific and chair of the Division III men's basketball championships committee, appeared on Monday night's Hoopsville to discuss the bracket and take questions.
If the right teams win out, these are possible championship games: Amherst vs. Middlebury, Eastern Connecticut vs. Western Connecticut, Wheaton (Ill.) vs. North Central (Ill.) and others. Wittenberg or Wooster could face Ohio Wesleyan in the national semifinals. Western Connecticut could face Rhode Island College in the Elite Eight (and thus make the argument that Keene State should have been selected).
If St. Thomas were to somehow defend its national championship despite all the graduations and injuries, it will have to get out of Whitewater, Wis., then perhaps face UW-River Falls, whom it lost to early in the season. Picture a sectional in that bottom right-hand corner where Claremont-Mudd-Scripps advances, making driving impossible for nearly any combination of the other three teams.
But you have to put all discussion of criteria to the side every once in a while and just enjoy the pure joy of a team's reaction. Here's what it looked like when NYU saw they were in the field: