Matt Witwicki

SR4 Regional Projections After 8 Weeks..

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The first installment of the NCAA Regional Rankings come out today. I’ll have a column explaining the Regional Ranking process in detail for D2 Football. Here’s a quick look at who’ll likely be in the top 10 out of the 40 plus teams in Super Region Four.

The conferences that make up SR4 are as follows:
GNAC (teams out west)
LSC (mostly Texas teams)
NSIC (Upper Midwest)
RMAC (mostly Colorado teams)

The Regional Rankings use strength of schedule and winning percentage as the basic criteria, along with wins over .500 or better opponents along with additional consideration given to out of conference wins. Margin of victory is not part of the equation, neither are the national polls, it's just simply who you’ve beaten through 8 weeks of football. Keep in mind, the rankings will likely shift weekly as a team’s resume can change. The top 7 teams in the RR after Week 11 make the playoffs.

I’m expecting the following, based on the NCAA selection criteria. Keep in mind, these are merely my own projections.

1-Central Washington (8-0) - GNAC
I see this spot either going to CWU or Midwestern State, as they should have the best SOS, along with CWU having a strong win over Humboldt State (ranked here), along with a win this last weekend over 2016 championship runner-up North Alabama. Yes, UNA is 3-4 this year, but they are a well-respected traditional power and that will help put CWU in the top spot.
2-Winona State (8-0) - NSIC
While Winona State and Mankato are both unbeaten in the NSIC, the Warriors have played the tougher schedule through 8 weeks. A win over USF gives WSU a further boost as well. The game between Winona and Mankato this weekend will help figure out who stays in the top 3-4 and who drops a few spots. If WSU wins, the Warriors will be in the conversation for that top spot, and would look good with wins over possibly multiple squads in the top 10 Regional Rankings.
3-Midwestern State (6-0) -LSC
This Texas squad is the wildcard. Midwestern has a great SOS, but has only played 6 games so far. It will play the needed 9 games by season’s end, but they had a contest fall off the schedule due to a hurricane early in the year. If the committee puts them on equal football with teams that’ve played 8 games, then expect them higher, possibly even the top spot. That said, I’m expecting the committee to reward the teams who’ve played 2 more games.
4-MSU-Mankato (8-0) - NSIC
While I think MSU might be the best football team in the region, the Mavs SOS is under .500 as they haven’t played the top teams in the South yet. And they didn’t play as tough a slate versus the North as Winona. I feel their lower SOS will drop them below Midwestern State at this point and time. If Mankato beats Winona this week, look for a bump up. The Mavs also finish with a ranked USF squad, so they have their toughest games still ahead of them.
5-Humboldt State (6-1) -GNAC
The Lumberjacks are slightly ahead of the pack in terms of SOS and if the committee is looking favorably at CWU (fellow GNAC squad), then I think they will see Humboldt in a positive light as well. HSU lost to CWU, but plays them a second time to wrap up the season.
6-Texas A&M Commerce (6-1) - LSC
Commerce is the trickiest of the 1 loss squads as they played out of conference and beat UNA (like CWU) but lost to Midwestern State. I could see Commerce as high as 6 or as low as 8 or 9.
7-USF (7-1) - NSIC
The Cougars could find themselves a spot higher, but I’d be surprised if they are lower than #7. With a decent SOS and a win over UMD (ranked), they should be solid here.
8-Mesa State (CO) - RMAC
This is where it gets more difficult. The SOS for the remaining 1-loss teams is very similar, so I think the committee puts their first RMAC team in the 8 spot. The NCAA has an Earned Access rule, which is about inclusion of all conferences in the post-season if ranked in the top 8 in the region (This does not apply to the GNAC, due to the league being too small). What this means is that if Mesa State was ranked 8th, it would be slotted into the dance (the 7 spot) for conference inclusion purposes (thanks to the Earned Access Rule). This is something to keep an eye on.
9-E. New Mexico (6-1) - LSC
Looking at SOS and not having a win over any ranked teams, I think they’ll be slotted here.
10-Minnesota-Duluth (6-2) - NSIC
This spot is up in the air, going to the best 2 loss squad at this point. While other squads like Bemidji State (low SOS), St. Cloud State, and CSU-Pueblo (bad losses) sit with 2 losses as well, UMD looks the best on paper. There’s an outside chance SCSU sees the 10 spot today, but the Huskies lost to UMD so a better ranking wouldn’t make sense.

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Updated 10-23-2017 at 12:00 PM by Matt Witwicki

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Comments

  1. Zombie8myBrainz's Avatar
    I don't like where ENMU is but I can't argue the logic. Good post!
  2. Raymond Franze's Avatar
    Love the picture!