The NCAA could have a mess on their hands at the end of conference tournament season in college basketball for the 2nd year in a row.
Thanks to their ridiculous rules about teams being ineligible for March Madness after reclassifying, another deserving team could miss out on the NCAA Tournament.
Merrimack has locked up the NEC’s regular season title, but will be ineligible for the NCAA Tournament even if they win their conference tournament as well.
Merrimack has won its second NEC title in 4 years, but because of a dumb rule in which there is a 4-year transition period into the D-1 ranks, Joe Gallo’s program still ineligible for NCAA or NIT until next year, but is No. 1 seed in league tourney. Rule needs to be changed.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) February 24, 2023
This is the second year in a row that this has been an issue in college basketball.
Last year, it was Bellarmine who was kept out of the tournament because they were still in their 4 years of ineligibility. In their second year in the Atlantic Sun, they managed to win the conference’s tournament.
Instead of them getting to use the automatic bid they earned, it went to Jacksonville State. They had won the conference’s regular season tournament, but lost in the A-Sun semifinals.
This year could be an even bigger disaster. Not only has Merrimack won the conference, but the team in 2nd place is Stonehill. They also aren’t eligible for a few more seasons.
If either one of them wins, I’m not really sure what the right way to handle this would be. You can’t give it to the regular season champ like the A-Sun did. If Merrimack and Stonehill face off in the conference title game, then you could be giving an automatic NCAA bid to a team that didn’t make it to the final and at best, finished 3rd in the regular season.
The NCAA really needs to get rid of this ridiculous rule and just let the teams that earn these bids play in March Madness every year.
It looks like the NCAA will have to hope for some upsets in the NEC Tournament.