Well considering each leg is at least 5k and merber's 5k PR is only 14:01, I could see how they would be seeded 11th. Additionally, the 10k PRs of the team probably lose them some time. I don't really think this is a best representation of the US over these distances although it would be hard to say what the best "university" team would be. I imagine it would more than likely involve some true 10k guys.
Also, I don't understand the whole "ivy" thing for two reasons. First, guys who aren't ivy league have competed in this ekiden for the US previously. Second, why does it even need to be an "ivy" ekiden? I don't really understand why that is a credential.
I imagine this team will more than likely beat its seed but I think we have to remember that this is a major race for the japanese and for these young americans, it is something fun for them to do in the fall when they have just started their build ups. Merber was hurt most of the summer and was building up his strength.