As the basketball season comes to an end, UR Men’s and Women’s Basketball (URBB and URWB) are optimistic about their future. Both teams are going to finish in the top three of their conferences with overall records of 21–3 and 17–7, respectively, excluding their final games at Emory University.
As a result, both teams are poised to make their post-season tournaments simultaneously for the first time since 2014. Before examining each team’s paths to the tournament, let’s take a look at the tournament selection process as described by URWB Head Coach Jim Scheible, a member of the selection committee.
For both the men’s and women’s leagues, the first teams into the tournament are the conference champions, who fall into Pool A. Then, Pool B for men, and Pool C for women, are composed of teams who did not win their conference. For women, Pool B aggregates teams without a conference, from which one team is selected. To organize Pool B and C, teams are separated and ranked according to eight regions.
Then, the selection committee compares the current leaders of all regions to make its picks. The team who was previously behind the selected team then moves into first place of the region, and the process is repeated. The two leagues use different criteria to compare teams, but both incorporate winning percentage, strength of schedule, and performance versus each other or common opponents.
Teams are organized into four clusters upon selection and the top seed of each cluster hosts the first two rounds of the tournament. Each year, the University rotates rights to host the tournament between the men’s and women’s teams; the women’s team will host this year.
URBB currently sits atop the East Region, indicating they will be considered in every round until they are selected or the bracket is filled. The regional rankings will be redone after this article is published, but with a better record and a head-to-head victory over second place St. John Fisher College, UR is in good condition.
In an interview, Coach Flockerzi pointed out the team’s strong non-conference performance, where the ‘Jackets went undefeated. Their overall record puts them in a strong position to not only be selected to the tournament, but also to host the first two rounds of tournament play.
Homecourt advantage is crucial in postseason play because teams can travel anywhere within a 500-mile radius for the first couple rounds. A long bus ride limits the physical preparation for games, giving the home team another advantage in addition to having the crowd on their side.
URWB currently sits in third place of the East Region. The largest advantage the ‘Jackets have is earning an 8–5 record in one of the best conferences in all of Division III. Every team in the conference has an overall record above .500 except for Brandeis University, and seventh-ranked Washington University will play University of Chicago on Saturday to determine the conference winner. Boasting a win against Washington U., and playing well in a tough conference, puts the ‘Jackets in a strong position to make the tournament.
Last year, they made a run to the Elite 8 before falling to Amherst College. The team’s composition has changed, however, having replaced two graduated starting point guards with freshmen Brenna James and Lauren Foley. But ultimately, the experience of making postseason run gives the team confidence in its ability to compete this year.