WHEELING - There's a chance Danny Sancomb will already be asleep when the NCAA reveals its Division II Atlantic Regional bracket at 10:30 on Sunday night. That's because Sancomb's Wheeling Jesuit men's basketball team will not be participating, barring nothing short of a presidential pardon.
Sancomb might want to stay up, however. It's hard to tell what will happen when a committee gets together. It certainly doesn't look promising though, for Wheeling Jesuit.
The Cardinals (19-10) were 10th in the latest rankings, with the top 8 earning bids to an event that will again be held at West Liberty's Academic Sports and Recreation Complex, next week. The question though, is should Wheeling Jesuit be higher?
The Cardinals won 19 games in the West Virginia Conference, which is by far the toughest in the Atlantic Region. Not only does it include the Hilltoppers, who are the No. 1 overall team in the country, but Fairmont (No. 3 in Atlantic Region) and Alderson-Broaddus, which checks in at a somewhat precarious seventh in the region.
Likewise, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association has three teams in the rankings - No. 2 Winston-Salem State, No. 5 Livingstone and No. 8 Shaw. But thanks to unranked Bowie State's run through the CIAA Conference Tournament, Shaw is virtually assured to be bumped out, and that's only fair since at 16-11 it never should have been in there in the first place. W-S State and Livingstone should both drop after losses to a Bowie team that entered the tournament below .500.
It wouldn't be a shame if A-B didn't get in, either. You would have a hard time making a case for the Battlers, who jumped to No. 7 from being unranked, presumably by taking Fairmont to the wire in the WVC semifinals.
Back to Jesuit.
The Cardinals finished the season on a 12-3 roll, with all three losses coming at the hands of West Liberty. They split with Fairmont and lost by three to Alderson-Broaddus earlier in the season.
Do you believe for a second that an East Stroudsburg, which was No. 6 before losing to unranked Slippery Rock on Friday night in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference semis, or a Livingstone could survive the rugged WVIAC that also features the only team to beat the Hilltoppers this season in the University of Charleston?
If the answer is 'no,' then you admit Wheeling Jesuit is punished for playing in a tougher conference, which obviously isn't right.
That's OK, because Wheeling Jesuit will ultimately have the last laugh in the next couple of years.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org