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Why Iona and Wagner might get snubbed

Iona College men's basketball head coach Tim Cluess

Iona College men's basketball head coach Tim Cluess talks to his team during a timeout in the first half. (Dec. 29, 2011) Photo Credit: James Escher

Saturday was not a good day for several of our local teams: Iona, Wagner, Stony Brook and the Hofstra Women. We’ll worry about Stony Brook and the Hofstra Women on Sunday and Monday, when the NIT bids are announced. For now, we’ll focus on Iona and Wagner.

So why was Saturday a tough day for Iona? The Gaels are hoping to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But Tim Cluess’ squad needs a lot of help. Who knows? The selection committee may end up putting Iona in the field anyway. But if they don’t make it here’s why.

The A-10 final could be a problem for the Gaels. Temple and St. Louis were both ousted before the final. St. Bonaventure will square off against Xavier in the final on Sunday. If St. Bonaventure wins, an at-large bid will certainly be stolen from the Gaels. There’s no way to be sure if a Xavier win will preserve an at-large bid. Some people believe Xavier is in by virtue of getting to the final. Some think otherwise. Iona will be rooting for Xavier in this one.

Although the PAC-12 is the weakest of the major conferences, it is going to get at least three teams (maybe 4) in now, thanks to Colorado’s upset of Arizona in the championship game. Colorado, at best, was headed to the NIT if it didn’t win the PAC-12 title. Now it is headed to the NCAA Tournament, which means two or three PAC-12 teams will get at-large bids. This definitely affects Iona.

So was Iona helped by anyone on Saturday?

Yes. Vanderbilt beating Mississippi probably knocked the Rebels out of the NCAA. Memphis crushing Marshall in the C-USA title game also helped. Long Beach State capped a great season by knocking off UC Santa Barbara in the Big West final. There was talk that Long Beach State was going to get an at-large if they lost. So this could be a help to Iona.

Mississippi Valley State winning the SWAC title on Saturday also helps Iona. The Delta Devils won the SWAC regular-season title.

What the committee does with the ACC and the Big East will affect Iona in a big way. North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and Virginia are locks. N.C. State and Miami are on the bubble. If all six of those teams get in, that could be an issue.

As for the Big East, Tim Cluess openly campaigned for his team to get in over the eighth or ninth Big East squad. Syracuse, Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Louisville, Connecticut and South Florida (we think) are all in. West Virginia and Seton Hall are the question marks. If both are in, Iona is probably out, plain and simple. If one or none of the last two get in, the Gaels still have a chance.

Here’s the bad news for Wagner, which is hoping to snag an at-large NIT bid.

Iona losing in the MAAC semifinal could definitely hurt Wagner. If Iona doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament (see above), the Gaels will head to the NIT via the MAAC’s automatic bid.

Akron, the top seed in the MAC Tournament, fell to Ohio, 64-63, in the championship game. Akron was the MAC regular season champ, which means it gets an automatic bid to the NIT. Had Akron beat Ohio, the MAC’s automatic NIT bid would be null and void and would’ve become an at-large bid.

Stony Brook losing to Vermont was also a killer for Wagner. The Seawolves will head to the NIT because they were the America East regular season champ. So there goes another NIT at-large bid down the drain.

You can add Texas Arlington to this scenario, too. The Mavericks were the top seed in the Southland Conference, but got ousted from its tournament. That’s another at-large NIT bid down the drain. The Mavericks will be playing in the NIT.

The MEAC Tournament also could cost Wagner. Top-seed Savannah State got the boot before the final and is headed to the NIT, stealing another at-large bid. Norfolk State beat Bethune-Cookman in the final on Saturday, 73-70.

Long Beach State beat UC Santa Barbara in the Big West final. Truth be told, the 49ers might have been an at-large candidate. Either way, Long Beach State’s win helps Wagner.
 

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