John Carroll men's basketball gets raw deal from NCAA selection committee, which needs to be more transparent | Opinion

Feb. 28—Those wondering why the NCAA puts on a 64-team championship in Division III men's basketball then doesn't require the selection committee to reveal the seeds of each team need to look no further than the peculiar case of John Carroll.

The Blue Streaks are 25-2, won the regular-season title in the Ohio Athletic Conference — considered by many one of the three or four best conferences in D-III — by five games, then won the OAC tournament and boasted an NCAA resume worthy of a No. 1 seed. That includes a strength of schedule of .580 — which ranks among the nation's best.

The NCAA also released a Top 16 ranking on Feb. 15 to generate interest for D-III fans. JCU was ranked No. 4 in the country in those rankings.

Since those Top 16 rankings, the Blue Streaks lost one game — at Otterbein by four points. They regrouped to win three straight, including two in the OAC tournament, to get to their current mark of 25-2. The team also spent several weeks ranked No. 1 in the country by

That's a pretty impressive body of work for Coach Pete Moran's team, but JCU's bracket position clearly does not match — even without seed numbers next to teams.

That's because anyone who can read and understand a March Madness bracket, can clearly understand what is going in this season's D-III version.

In JCU's bracket, Randolph Macon (23-4) is on the top line and is the No, 1 seed. New York University (20-5) is the No. 2. Trinity (Conn.) is 26-1 and appears to be the No. 3 seed. That leaves the Blue Streaks as the No. 4 seed.

All of which creates another discussion pertaining to JCU. How did a team that was ranked No. 4 in the country by the NCAA less than two weeks ago fall from potentially a top line — or at worst a No. 2 seed — to what appears to be a No. 4 seed?

The News-Herald sought out Luke Flockerzi — the men's basketball committee chair for D-III — for answers. Hint, hint ... there are more questions than answers following an email exchange.

As for not seeding teams — or at the least not revealing them to the public — Flockerzi wrote:

"Our tournament is not seeded in a traditional sense — at our level there are a lot of geographic, hosting and travel considerations that go into constructing our bracket, which is part of the reason why you don't see seed numbers."

As for the Top 16 released by the NCAA about two weeks ago, which had JCU No. 4 overall, Flockerzi wrote:

"The Top 16 is designed to generate some excitement about D3 basketball and give a sense for who has some of the better resumes at that moment in time. The Top 16 was released two weeks ago and every team's resume in the country has changed — some have improved dramatically, some have remained close to the same and some have diminished. That exercise was also a different process than our actual selections and bracketing."

For comparison sake, Randolph Macon lost in the semifinal round of its conference tournament, and NYU lost two of its last four games — albeit to NCAA tournament teams Carnegie Mellon and Washington University. Both teams clearly maintained their solid resumes in the eyes of the selection committee with their seed lines.

For JCU, two things must be in play for its drop:

—Losing to Otterbein (17-9 and third place in the OAC) must have been viewed as a bad loss, or another unknown factor was in play.

When asked about John Carroll's bracket position, Flockerzi did not address the question.

He ended the email exchange with this: "None of these are direct answers to your question, but hopefully offer some larger context."

Because of geography and travel considerations, the selection committee no doubt faces difficult situations creating a bracket but in the instance of JCU, it has to do better than this.

The Blue Streaks dominated in a tough league and played a solid schedule. They did everything needed to be a high seed, and should have been rewarded to the full extent. They clearly were not.

Someone at JCU should get an explanation for all of this. They won't get one.

SUNY New Paltz at John Carroll

What: NCAA D-III first-round men's tournament game

When: 8:20 p.m., March 1

Where: DeCarlo Varsity Center

Records: SUNY 20-7, JCU 25-2

Next: The SUNY-JCU winner plays either Calvin or Elmhurst on March 2 at 8:20 p.m.