On February 12th, the NCAA released their first Men’s Basketball Regional Rankings of the 2019-20 season, set based on games through February 9th. In the Atlantic Region, the YU Maccabees came ranked in second, only behind Stevens. This is the highest which the Macs have ever been in the NCAA rankings, breaking a record of 6th, set last year.
The NCAA will release these rankings twice more before March 2nd, when the D3 bracket will be revealed. While the only one which essentially matters is week three’s, it gives the committee a basis to work with, and provides the public a better sense for how it is evaluating each team’s record and schedule.
Excellent play against top opponents pushed Stevens Institute of Technology (17-4) to the top spot in the rankings. The Ducks defeated then #13 John Hopkins (now #7) 72-65 in late December, and lost by 10 to then #4 Middlebury (now #10) and just three against undefeated, #1 Swarthmore. The Ducks also defeated Rutgers-Newark (6th in Atlantic) by 4, and routed TCNJ (3rd) by 20 points. While nowhere to be found in D3hoops.com Top 25, Stevens is ranked in the top 60 in two of the most widely used efficiency rankings for Division III (see here and here).
Skyline foe Purchase College comes in 4th in the rankings, making this a fantastic showing for the conference. 5th-ranked DeSales will face off against Stevens tonight in a game which will have major implications. Wesley (7th) and Stockton (8th) round out the Atlantic rankings.
Regional rankings have a major impact on decisions which the committee will make on Selection Monday, including which at-large (Pool C) teams will make the tournament, and which 16 schools will host the first and second round games. According to the D3hoops.com NCAA FAQ, “while teams with higher regional rankings have a better chance to host, several factors go into hosting decisions including geography, facilities, attendance history and revenue potential and a school's willingness to host… the committee may give hosting opportunities to a lower seeded team that is closer to the other teams in the pod.”
While this may be yet another historic accomplishment for Yeshiva, the leaders in the locker room were not incredibly impressed. Dani Katz and Gabriel Leifer concurred that “it’s a big accomplishment, but there’s a lot of work to still accomplish.” Simcha Halpert’s statement on the matter tells you all you need to know about the senior’s competitiveness.
“We should be 1,” he said.