NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Last week’s upset loss to Fairfield University in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament semifinals eliminated the top-seeded Iona Gaels from winning the postseason title and earning an automatic bid to NCAA Tournament and March Madness.
Boasting an outstanding overall record of 25-7, the Gaels may have been closer to receiving one of the 37 at-large bids that will be granted when the NCAA selection committee meets Sunday to set the field of 68. Thirty-one teams earn automatic bids on the strength of regular season or league tournament championships.
When the brackets are revealed on CBS-TV at 6 p.m., should the Gaels be among the chosen 37?
Iona last won the MAAC tournament and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament in 2006 under then coach Jeff Ruland. Loyola of Maryland defeated Fairfield to win the MAAC tournament and is one of the 31 teams to qualify for the tournament.
MAAC Associate Commissioner Ken Taylor, who participated in the NCAA mock selections in February 2011 and knows the process well, made the case for Iona based on his insight and experience.
“I was privileged to participate in the United States Basketball Writers Association mock selection,” Taylor said. “I traveled to Indianapolis and, along with 19 other media and conference officials, experienced a simulation of how the committee selects and seeds the brackets. Say what you want about the selection process, I can promise you this; The committee does a thorough job of evaluating each team under consideration.”
Taylor gave five reasons in favor of the Gaels being selected.
1. Iona has five wins against teams ranked in the top 100 of the Rating Percentage Index used to rank college teams.
2. A Non-conference RPI of 19.
3. A Non-conference strength of schedule of 44 (68 teams are chosen).
4. A record of 9-3 in non-league game.
5. A record of 11-4 in road games and 15-6 in games played away from home.
Taylor also cited three negatives that may hurt Iona’s chances.
1. Two ‘bad’ losses to teams ranked below 200 in the RPI: at Hofstra and at Siena.
2. No Top 1 25 wins (in the end none of their opponents are ranked in the top 25).
3. Teams from stronger leagues have many more top 100 games to play and more opportunities to play against top 25, 50 and 100 teams.
“There are still games to be played and lots to be determined,” Taylor said. “One thing is certain - both Loyola and Iona had special seasons. Hopefully, we can see them both continue in the NCAA Tournament. If it doesn’t work out for Iona, they should at least one of the four top seeds in the NIT. That would put them in position to make a run all the way to Madison Square Garden. That said; let’s hope they’re dancing in the NCAA Tournament next week."
Log on at http://www.icgaels.com for Ken Taylor’s full evaluation of the Gaels’ case for selection.
From a report by Brian Beyrer -- Iona College Associate AD/Athletic Communications