Every year the selection committee goes through a process of creating a mock bracket before the actual process is completed. This process is open to media members and gives the general public an idea of what goes into making the final decisions. This year’s final bracket can be seen here. One exercise which they always seem to incorporate is a “what-if” scenario in which a mid major team has an outstanding season, but does not win their conference tournament. This clearly happened this year with the inclusion of Southeast Missouri St., thus assuming that Murray State did not win the OVC tournament. I wanted to do something similar with a bubble team, and I think Iona is a great example of this.
So, the question is this: If Iona does not win the MAAC tournament, will they still be in the field of 68?
The short answer is YES. Iona is currently 22-6, and more than likely will win their final two games tonight and Sunday to move to 24-6. They’ve beaten non-conference opponents such as Nevada, Saint Joe’s and Maryland. They also lost by 1 to Purdue all the way back in the first game of the season. During December, the Gaels played 8 games in a row on the road, all over the country. They traveled from Buffalo to Denver, to West Virginia, to Virginia, to Vermont, back to Virginia and finally back to New York. All of this during the holiday season and finals, and Iona came home winners in 6 of their 8 straight road games. They picked up more road wins in the matter of 3 weeks than many of the big conference bubble teams will end up with all YEAR.
Iona is the highest scoring team in the country, led by Arizona transfer MoMo Jones and senior Mike Glover, who shoots almost 65% from the field. They also have the #1 assist man in the country in Scott Machado, who will surely be in the NBA next season. Against the top 130 of the RPI, Iona is an extremely impressive 8-3.
There is no doubt in my mind that if Iona were to come up short in the MAAC tournament, they would be one of the 37 best at large teams the committee would have to choose from. Crotistics has Iona at #27, and despite currently being a #13 seed, they could definitely climb higher. Iona could be a big sleeper team come March Madness.