Chuck Bitner

Regional Rankings Projections

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The first round of NCAA Division II Football Championship regional rankings will be released this week on Monday, October 23. The top 10 teams in each region will be ranked. Below is my take on what I expect the rankings to look like. Before we dive into that, let’s review a couple of things.

Rankings updates

The regional rankings will be published on the following dates, usually between 4 and 5:00pm, eastern time.

October 23
October 30
November 6

The playoff field will be announced on Sunday, November 12

Regions


The Division II Championship field is determined by regional committees and a national committee. There are four regions. Each region consists of specific conferences and, where appropriate, a few independents.

Super Region 1 – North East 10, PSAC, MEC, GMAC (total teams – 45)
Super Region 2 – CIAA, SAC, GSC, SIAC, UNCP, North Greenville (total teams – 41)
Super Region 3 – GAC, MIAA, GLIAC, GLVC (total teams – 42)
Super Region 4 – RMAC, LSC, NSIC, GNAC (total teams – 41)

The CIAA was moved from SR1 to SR2 beginning this season. This definitely makes the SR2 field more competitive.

The top seven teams in each region as of the conclusion of the regular season will make the playoffs.

Who is on the committee?
Every conference has two representatives on the regional committee, and each region has two representatives on the national committee. Committee members are usually head coaches, athletic directors or sports information directors. The SR2 committee is…

Rick Baker, Mars Hill
Dick Christy, UNC Pembroke
Daryl Dickey, West Georgia
Brett Gilliland, West Alabama
George Knox, WSSU
Reginald Ruffin, Miles
Willie Slater, Tuskegee
Curtis Walker, Catawba
Damon Wilson, Bowie State

SR2’s national committee members are
Dick Christy, AD, UNC Pembroke
Daryl Dickey, AD, West Georgia

Earned Access

If a conference’s highest ranked team is in the top 8 but NOT in the top 7 (in other word’s 8th) that team can be awarded the final playoff spot by virtue of the earned access rule, which is an attempt to be make sure all conferences have a team in the tournament.

Countable games

When looking at a team’s Win-Loss record, it is important to know that only games against Division II teams are counted. Any games against FCS, Division II, NAIA or other affiliations do not count towards a team’s win loss record or opponent winning percentage. This means that Catawba’s win at VMI, while impressive, does not count towards their D2 W-L record.

There is some latitude for the committee to look at overall records when comparing two teams with similar resumes, but the basic criteria discounts non-D2 games.

Enough background. It's always dangerous to guess what the rankings may look like, and it's still way too early to consider anything a done deal, but it's fun to talk about. Here is my best guess at the SR2 rankings that will come out Monday...

1. Wingate (7-0, 7-0) The Bulldogs are one of just two teams unbeaten against D2 competition. They have a slightly higher opponent winning percentage than Virginia State and have one more D2 win, which is why I expect them to be #1. The Bulldogs still have to play Newberry, a feisty Limestone team and Tusculum, but the SAC title is nearly locked up. All other SAC teams have at least 2 conference losses.

2. Virginia State (7-0, 6-0) The Trojans have one of the biggest wins of the year in SR2 with the victory over Bowie State last week. They are the favorites to win the CIAA, but still have to play rival Virginia Union, who is having a good season and the CIAA south division champ, if they do make the championship game.

3. Bowie State (7-1, 7-1) If VSU keeps winning, the single loss to the Trojans will keep Bowie State out of the CIAA Championship game. That’s out BSU’s control, but if they keep winning they will be in a very good position for the playoffs. The Bulldogs currently have one of the highest opponent winning percentages in their favor, but have OWP anchor Lincoln (Pa) next week, followed by ECSU to conclude the regular season.

4. West Alabama (6-2, 6-1) The Tigers were my number 1 team a week ago, but lost to Florida Tech on Saturday. The loss was their first of the year against a D2 opponent. They still hold critical tie breakers over Delta State and West Georgia in the GSC. The road remains difficult with West Florida, Valdosta State and North Greenville left to play.

5. Delta State (6-2, 6-2) The season started brilliantly for Delta State, but the Statesmen have lost 2 of the last 3 and both were conference games. North Alabama, North Greenville and Florida Tech are their remaining games. All three will be very difficult and the margin for error is very small.

6. West Georgia (6-2, 6-2) The Wolves currently have the highest OWP in the region, but head the head losses to West Alabama and Delta State hurt their cause. They close out the season with winless Shorter, followed by Florida Tech and West Florida.

7. Catawba (6-2, 5-2) The Indians are probably out of the running for the SAC championship but can still make their way into the post season. The OWP is good and should hold up pretty well with Newberry, Limestone and LR left to play, all of whom are tracking towards .500.

8. Tuskegee (6-2, 4-2) Tuskegee is a huge variable. Their OWP is good, but they have only 4 D2 wins. The other two wins are against FCS opponents. Margin of victory or loss are not considered as part of the rankings criteria, but The Golden Tigers lost to Findlay 61-0, which is not a good look for their resume.

9. Miles (5-3, 5-2) I have Miles in the top 10 because of their record. They’re not a very convincing playoff candidate right now, but they do have Clark-Atlanta and Tuskegee left to play, giving them opportunities to boost their profile and get into the SIAC championship game.

10. West Florida (5-2, 5-2) Like Miles, they’re in the list because of their record. OWP is not good but they do have opportunities to improve that with West Alabama, UNA and West Georgia ahead.


The biggest takeaway from all this is that even though we’re down to three weeks, there is still A LOT of football to be played. Nothing is predictable yet. But it’s fun to talk about it!

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Updated 10-22-2017 at 05:20 PM by Chuck Bitner

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