Seton Hall head coach Shaheen Holloway talks to Dre Davis (14), Jaden Bediako (15), Dylan Addae-Wusu (0) and Al-Amir Dawes (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Marquette Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Seton Hall Demands Explanation for Controversial March Madness Exclusion

A dark cloud of confusion hovered over South Orange Sunday night. The NCAA Tournament’s selection committee made a decision that left everyone scratching their heads. They excluded Seton Hall’s basketball team and gave the Big East Conference a cold shoulder.

Why did this happen?

The question on everyone’s mind was why Seton Hall, with a solid 13-7 record and a fourth-place finish in the nation’s second-highest-rated league, missed out on March Madness. Meanwhile, teams like Michigan State, Virginia, and Colorado secured their spots. It was baffling, especially since the Big East, a highly regarded conference, received only three bids. This was a historic low, contrasting sharply with the generous allocations to lower-rated leagues.

The selection committee’s chair talked a lot about bid-stealers that night but failed to provide a clear reason for the Big East’s, particularly Seton Hall’s, exclusion. New Jersey’s own bracket expert, Brad Wachtel, believed Seton Hall’s achievements deserved a spot in the tournament.

Seton Hall’s coach, Shaheen Holloway, expressed his disbelief and disappointment. Winning 13 games in what is considered the second-best conference in the country should have been enough. The oversight was not just surprising; it was downright disrespectful to the Big East.

Holloway, who has deep roots in the Big East as a former Pirate player and assistant, found the situation unprecedented. Not since 1993, when the conference received just three bids, had such a scenario unfolded. And now, his team was the first to finish well above .500 in Big East play and still miss the NCAA Tournament.

Hours later, Holloway was still in disbelief. Winning 13 games in a major conference like the Big East usually guarantees a spot in the tournament. Yet, Seton Hall was left out, a decision he found disrespectful and shameful.

The heartbreak was palpable for Holloway, especially seeing the disappointment on his team’s faces. It was a tough moment, one that he felt deeply for his players.

The Big East did have representation on the selection committee through Butler’s retiring athletics director, Barry Collier. However, he had to step out whenever teams from his league were discussed. Big East commissioner Val Ackerman’s silence on the matter only added to the frustration, leaving fans longing for a more vocal advocate.

Seton Hall’s athletics director, Bryan Felt, voiced his disappointment, emphasizing the need for a closer examination of the selection process. The lack of clear reasoning behind Seton Hall’s exclusion, especially given their impressive wins, was puzzling.

Felt pointed out the inconsistency in the selection criteria, especially when comparing Seton Hall’s record to other teams’. Holloway suggested that perhaps running up scores might be the new norm, a strategy he personally found distasteful.

The reliance on metrics by the committee was called into question. Holloway lamented the changing nature of basketball, where hard work and winning games seemed no longer enough.

Despite the NCAA Tournament snub, Holloway remained proud of his team. They had defied expectations, securing 20 wins and 13 conference victories, a testament to their hard work and dedication.

The team’s decision to accept an NIT bid as a top seed showed their commitment and respect for Seton Hall. It was a moment of unity and determination, with Holloway praising his team’s character and the support of the fans.

Not making the Big Dance was a tough blow, but Holloway’s leadership and the team’s performance this season proved his worth as a high-major head coach. He stood up for his team, highlighting the memorable season they had crafted together.

In the end, Holloway and his team didn’t need the selection committee’s validation. Their achievements spoke volumes, marking a season of impressive accomplishments and unwavering spirit.