It's my first post, and I know I'm a little bit late to the party, but I thought I would post some things that I have noticed over this season. I am a fan (parent) of a Nebraska Wesleyan player. I have read the board all season, just never posted before.
Regarding the final rankings, I can't believe that Wartburg was the only IIAC team rated, or even receiving votes. As a newcomer to the IIAC, and for the most part, D3, has the IIAC always not gotten much respect? It seems that if your 6th place team goes as far as Wartburg did in the tournament, and beat the teams they did, the teams that finished ahead of them in the regular season would get more respect.
NWU should be pretty good next year. As noted before, they have a lot of experience returning. And of that experience, most of it is current freshman and sophomores. I am looking forward to watching them the next couple of seasons.
A couple of things I noticed in moving from the GPAC to the IIAC. First of all, the competition was very good in the IIAC. Even though Wesleyan ended up in first place, they played a lot of close games. I think the top teams in the GPAC are better than the top teams in the IIAC, but after you get by the top couple of teams in the GPAC, the teams in each conference are pretty close. The second thing is that the officiating in the IIAC is not even close to being as good as it is in the GPAC. There were a few good officials in the IIAC, but not a whole lot. I don't think they were biased or anything, just not very good. Another thing is that I thought the coaching in the IIAC was pretty good.
I look forward to a lot of good, close games in the next couple of years. I wish the Iowa schools were closer to Wesleyan, it makes for a lot of long trips. Hopefully Wesleyan will be a good addition to the IIAC basketball portion of the conference.
What you need to remember is that NCAA standards for the national tournament and those of the NAIA, which you might be familiar with due to NWU's previous association with the GPAC/NAIA, might well be different in several aspects. 43 of the 64 NCAA tournament bids are what are referred to as Pool A which automatically go to conference tournament
winners. The remaining 21 bids go to teams that meet specific detailed criteria. If you don't win your conference tournament, finishing first in your conference in the regular season is no guarantee that your team will be selected. The exception to this would usually
, but not always, be a team who finishes first, or tied for first, in one of the top 3 or so conferences in the country (see Augustana). The IIAC is not one of those conferences. One criteria that is very important is strength of schedule. Its obvious that you are somewhat surprised NWU did not get a tourney bid despite tying for the conference regular season championship. However, looking beyond that accomplishment, the Prairie Wolves (or as I still think of them, Plainsmen), had at least three major problems. First, they failed to win the conference tournament which would have automatically gotten them in. Secondly, playing weak teams like MacMurray, Illinois College, and Blackburn will not help at all. Third, wins against NAIA, Christian College Association, and other non-NCAA schools don't even count. Therefore, as far as the NCAA is concerned, NWU had 16 wins this year, not 18. Also, once you get to 8-9 losses, sometimes less, your chances to be selected are exceedingly small unless you played a killer schedule or, got that auto bid by winning your conference tournament.
You talked about 6th place Wartburg doing pretty well in the national tournament. Keep in mind they would not have even been selected had they not won the conference tourney. Loras had fewer losses and didn't go.
Perfect examples of the importance of winning the conference tourney can be seen by looking at North Central and St. Norbert. NCC finished fourth in the CCIW, one of the country's major conferences. However, they beat #1 Carthage and #3 seed Augustana (championship game loser) to win the CCIW tourney and secure the CCIW's automatic bid. St. Norbert of the weak Midwest Conference finished 16-2 in conference. They went into the conference tournament semifinal at 19-4 and lost. Even with finishing with only 5 losses all year, and almost four times that many wins, they did not receive a bid because of their very weak overall schedule. I would guess losing only 5 times and not receiving a bid is almost unheard of, but it supremely illustrates the importance of playing a decent schedule and/or winning your conference tournament.
* I am (long, long ago) a former NWU player. During my years in Lincoln, we fairly often played Buena Vista and Simpson. Fortunately, we didn't go further east. Those bus rides to Dubuque must be hell.