There is one team in the NCAA tournament this year from the entire area that would be most of the Deep South (NC, SC, GA, AL, MS, KY, TN, AR, LA)--Greensboro, which received their conference's automatic bid.
In contrast, there are 8 schools in the tourney from the one state of Massachusetts! Now I know that most of the schools received their conference's automatic bid, so some of that is an artifact of the number of schools and number of conferences in that area. But there were a few at large bids out of that 8--MIT, for example, did not win their conference but received an at large bid.
Oglethorpe U in Atlanta won their conference tournament, but because of the provisional status of the SAA, they did not get an automatic bid. They went 11-3-3 and even beat UAA's Emory.
Yet they did not receive an Pool B or Pool C bid.
I think the selection committe should pay a bit more attention to regions in awarding at large bids.
Bias against the deep south? No. Bias against low SOS? Yes.
The committee has been charge with doing rankings and making at-large berth selections based upon a specified set of criteria (there's been plenty of articles on the website which reminded readers of the criteria). A lot of the criteria is quantitative in nature (win pct., SOS using their own formula, record vs. ranked teams), so while there is always a certain degree of subjectivity, there's a few objective factors they give serious weight to. And this is reflected in their regional rankings and at-large selections (this year and for the past 10 or so years). So while we can disagree with the criteria the committee has been tasked to apply and we can disagree with their application of the criteria, but there is no basis to be surprised and there is no real evidence of is regional bias.
I personally think Randolph should have been in the tournament, but the committee made it abundantly clear by the ommission of Randolph from their regional rankings that they were not in the running for a Pool C at-large berth if they failed to win the ODAC automatic berth. And the ommission of Randolph did not contradict the criteria the committee was tasked to apply. Same thing with Oglethorpe.
The true south region (not the "South Atlantic" region) is in a weak phase in their history. Greensboro, Roanoke, Va. Wesleyan, Methodist, and even Christopher Newport are not as strong as they used to be, for some not too long ago, and by and large those teams have not been replaced with new regional and national heavyweights. And that means low SOS for everybody.
The West region who has little opportunity to schedule tougher teams from other regions to boost their SOS, have been having the same problem for even longer. Even the heavyweights they had have fallen some (e.g. Redlands) or a lot (e.g. UC Santa Cruz). So the west teams have low SOS that prevent them from getting at-large selections, but with minimal recourse to improve their SOS without spending a lot on travel and going against the D-III philosophy of minimizing missed class time, etc. The south teams have more realistic opportunities to boost their SOS than the west coast teams, so if you think you guys have it bad, they have it worse and going back a lot longer.
There is some unfairness in this, I believe, but it's not the committee who is personally being unfair, rather it's built into the pre-determined criteria. Unintentionally, I believe, but should not be unknowingly for it is rather apparent. The frustration is warranted; the surprise is not. The committee should not be the target; the criteria should.
As to the "South Atlantic" not really being a south region, first off, it's just a name and the "Atlantic" was tacked on to represent the fact that the NJAC was added to the old "South Region". The Northwest schools and the California schools and the south central (Texas, etc.) schools are further separated geographically and yet comprise the same "West Region". The old "Central Region" was the same. Nevertheless I would agree it still seems odd and unnatural to have the Jersey schools in the region.
However, if you think the region's true south teams would fare better if the NJAC schools were shipped to another region, just remember that the Central region just came up goose eggs for at-large berths because the committee didn't think their candidates stacked up. Remove the NJAC schools and the true south teams would have a greater presence in the regional rankings, but it wouldn't guarantee any more berths for them. It certainly wouldn't hurt because you always have a better chance if your name makes the list than the zero chance you have if it doesn't. But there are historical examples of regions being completely or largely overlooked for at-large berths, so I don't think the NJAC schools cost the true south teams anything this year.
As to the selection committee paying more attention to regions, again, that is not what they are charged to do. It's a national tournament and the at-large berths are to be made on a national basis. That's the guidelines the committee works under. Again you may disagree with doing it that way, but that's not up to the committee at the moment of doing the rankings or making the selections. In this I agree with the selections being national in scope. We already have many tournament teams that are un-competitive on a national scale because of the automatic qualifier system, and many complain about that. If you ask the committee to make sure there's some regional balance in awarding at-large berths you are again practically mandating the inclusion of inferior teams at the expense of better teams. No need for that after all the automatic qualifiers do in that regard. However, if the committee in their subjectivity and good judgment wanted to be sure the best team from a seemingly weak region (i.e. Randolph form the true south, this year) was given the chance to prove what they can do against the nation's best, I'm all for giving the committee that flexibility and subjective leeway (especially if it came along with a modified AQ system that gave less conferences a guaranteed berth and opened up more at-large spots). But the committee does not have that freedom at present under the current criteria and guidelines.
If you think the criteria to be used and guidelines to follow are wrong, that's what you should want to have changed, not the implementation of some pseudo regional at-large quota. I think the criteria, or at least it's application, is too strongly tied to a questionable SOS formula (I am a strong proponent of considering SOS, but I question the accuracy their SOS and how strongly and rigidly they base their selections on it).