John Carroll men's basketball will host NCAA quadrant, plays SUNY New Paltz in first round

Feb. 26—On Feb. 26, the NCAA released its 64-team Division III men's basketball tournament bracket, and John Carroll knows its first-round opponent.

The No. 2-ranked Blue Streaks — 25-2 and one of the top teams nationally all season — will host a quadrant at the DeCarlo Varsity Center this weekend and will play SUNY New Paltz in its first-round game March 1.

Tip-off is set for 8:20 p.m.

.@JCUMensHoops gets SUNY New Paltz in NCAA D3 first-round game Friday. Calvin-Elmhurst is other NCAA game at JCU on Friday. @jcusports @NHPreps

— Mark Podolski (@mpodo) February 26, 2024

That's what fans of the Blue Streaks know about the D-III men's tournament. Beyond that, it's a bit of a mystery.

How each team is seeded is not revealed by the NCAA — most likely because geography and travel considerations are always taken into account. It's not always as simple as seeding teams in each bracket from 1 to 16 and so forth, and playing them off.

Per the NCAA, teams traveling more than 500 miles to a location can fly at the NCAA's expense. That can sometimes force the NCAA to create matchups based on geography instead of seeds.

More on that in a bit. For now, JCU has a first-round opponent in SUNY New Paltz (20-7). The winner of that matchup plays either Calvin (22-4) or Elmhurst (22-5). Those teams tip off at JCU on March 1 at 5:50 p.m.

The first-round winners play for a Sweet 16 spot on March 2 at 7:15 p.m. at JCU.

For the Blue Streaks, the start of the tournament has a different feeling than a year ago. They were an at-large selection and had to travel to New York to play their first- and second-round games. JCU was eliminated by the host school, Oswego State, in Round 2.

Coach Pete Moran's team received the Ohio Athletic Conference's automatic bid to the tournament thanks to its 88-86 overtime win over Mount Union in the OAC tournament's championship game. Most important for JCU, is the home game March 1, and potentially another the next day.

"It's exciting. There's no place like home," said Moran. "For our guys to sleep in their own bed, not having to worry about the travel, family travel, that's important. Our guys are more familiar with our court more than any other and that's instrumental. And these guys have earned that right to host."

SUNY New Paltz won the SUNY Athletic Conference tournament as the No. 6 seed by defeating top-seeded Oswego State in the championship game.

"Any team you play in March is a good basketball team," said Moran.

Said JCU's leading scorer Luke Frazier of Lake Catholic: "We're excited to play at home. We love playing here, the home crowd, the home energy. It means a lot to play here."

As for JCU's 16-team bracket, it appears to be a loaded one — and arguably the most difficult. Although it's not official, with Randolph Macon (23-4, ranked No. 4 by on the top line of the bracket, it's reasonable to think it is the No. 1 seed. New York University (20-5, ranked No. 8) is on the bottom line, which would make it the No. 2 seed.

Also in the bracket are JCU (ranked No. 2 by and Trinity (Conn.), which is 26-1 and ranked No. 3 by Calvin — at JCU's quadrant — is 22-4 and No. 10 in this week's poll. To review, the bracket has the teams (the Blue Steaks included) this week ranked Nos. 2, 3, 4, 8 and 10 nationally. Of course, the selection committee does not use poll rankings. The NCAA did provide a Top 16 overall rankings in the regular season. It's most recent rankings had Randolph Macon No. 2, JCU No. 4, NYU No. 6 and Trinity No. 10. Calvin was not ranked in the Top 16.

Here are my picks on Friday's men's #d3hoops first-round games, in each bracket.

By my estimate of the NCAA criteria, all four hosts in the bottom-right bracket (RMC, Trinity CT, NYU, & John Carroll) are among the nation's eight best resumes.

— D3 Bubble Watch (@d3bubble) February 26, 2024

According to the Twitter account @D3bubble, Randolph Macon, Trinity, NYU and JCU in the same bracket represent teams with "the nation's eight best (NCAA) resumes."