Nova Southeastern Basketball Went Undefeated To The DII Men’s Elite Eight

Nova Southeastern Basketball Went Undefeated To The DII Men's Elite Eight

The chase is over. Nova Southeastern Basketball went 31-0 before being defeated 77-67 by Black Hills State in the 2022 DII men’s basketball tournament quarterfinals. Since the Sunshine State Conference’s expansion in 1981-82, Nova Southeastern Basketball was the first team to go unbeaten in basketball league play as well as overall in the regular season.

Already when we look back on Nova Southeastern Basketball and their 31-game winning streak, let’s take a step back in time.

Except for the 2020 tournament, which was cut short by COVID-19, there were 64 DII men’s basketball championship seasons completed. Only five of the 64 national champions have gone undefeated. That equates to roughly 8% of all the national champions in history, indicating that this will be no easy task. It becomes even more intimidating when compared to DII women’s basketball, where 4 of the last 7 national champions went undefeated.

Nova Southeastern Basketball – All-time unbeaten seasons in Division II men’s basketball

All-time unbeaten seasons in Division II men's basketball
All-time unbeaten seasons in Division II men’s basketball

One of the conferences, the ICC, is no longer in existence. That is the number of years since the very first undefeated champion.

Three of the previous five undefeated national champions — Northwest Missouri State, Cal State Bakersfield, and Evansville — had previously won a championship. Findlay had won its division six of the seven seasons preceding its perfect championship season and was a well-established DII powerhouse, so it felt like that’s something special was about to happen.

Fort Hays State appears to be the outlier, the lone dove who surprised the world, and the model that these Sharks must emulate. The Sharks have never played in a championship game, let alone won one. In fact, Nova Southeastern only made its first-ever Nova Southeastern Basketball DII tournament appearance two years ago.

Furthermore, the number of ranked teams remaining halfway thru the appears to be decreasing. Eight teams were undefeated at the start of January in 2017 and 2019, and nine teams were undefeated on Jan. 1, 2018. In the 2019-20 season, there were only two, while this year there were five in January.

So going undefeated in DII men’s basketball is a rarity that may be getting rarer.

Everything you need to know about the DII men’s basketball tournament

Everything you need to know about the DII men's basketball tournament
Everything you need to know about the DII men’s basketball tournament

When did the Division II men’s basketball tournament start?

The tournament dates back to 1957 when it was known as the NCAA College Division Basketball Championship. Wheaton (Illinois) won its first national championship by defeating Kentucky Wesleyan 89-65 in Evansville, Indiana. It remained that way — and in Evansville — till 1974, once Morgan State defeated Missouri State 67-52 in the first official Division II basketball championship. By 1982, the NCAA DII had both men’s as well as women’s sports, and with the addition of the DII women’s basketball tournament, the tournament was renamed the DII men’s basketball championship.

How do teams qualify for the Division II men’s basketball tournament?

The DII men’s basketball tournament, like March Madness on the Division I level, features 64 teams. Of the 64 teams, 23 are automatic qualifiers due to having won their respective conference tournaments. The 23 conferences are organized into eight regions.

So where do the remaining 41 teams come from? The process could be said to begin 3 weeks before the season ends. The NCAA publishes the first-ever regional rankings at this time. These rankings, which are released every Wednesday during the final 3 weeks of the season, provide an idea of the top 8 teams in each region.

The DII men’s basketball selection committee gets to work after the conference tournaments and the 23 automatic bids are resolved. What criteria are they looking for?

It begins with a Division II won-lost record of.500 or better while competing against at least 22 DII men’s basketball programs. If the program meets the criteria, the committee will consider the following.

  • Winning percentage in the region
  • DII victory percentage
  • Schedule strength in comparison to DII programs
  • Losses and victories against DII programs in head-to-head competition
  • Results against commonly encountered DII opponents
  • RPI
  • Performance metric
  • Record against ranked teams

The bracket is declared in a Selection Show on the Sunday first before the tournament begins, once the committee has reached an agreement on 41 at-large teams.

How does the NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship bracket look?

The championship bracket is formatted similarly to the traditional 64-team bracket that we have come to expect from March Madness. Two regions are divided into four quadrants. 8 single-elimination regional tournaments kick off the action. The 8 regional champions are named the DII Men’s Elite Eight and will compete in the final three rounds at a different location.

The remaining teams have been seeded Nos. 1 through 8 starting with the 2016 DII Men’s Elite Eight field. Lower seeds advanced to the semifinals for the first time in the 2019 season, with three out of the four lower seeds accomplishing the feat.

History of men’s basketball at the Division II level

Wheaton won the 1st national championship in 1957, defeating Kentucky Wesleyan. Kentucky Wesleyan seemed to take it personally. With eight championships since that defeat, it has now become the all-time game-winning championship team in DII men’s basketball history.

Northwest Missouri State won its third national championship in four years in 2021. The 2019 team also became the fifth DII men’s basketball team to go undefeated in a season, finishing 38-0 as well as joining Evansville (1965), Fort Hays State (1996), Cal State Bakersfield (1993), and Findlay (2009).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *