Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Thursday, October 11, 2007

CSTV: Brandon Misener, A Regional Affair

The only rankings that matter for the playoffs are the regional rankings

Oct. 11, 2007
By Brandon Misener
Special To

The first regional rankings came out Monday, and like every year, there were some shockers. Those of us who have been following the transition from the old ways to the new methods of selecting the playoff were not shocked at all by the rankings. In fact, if one would decide to put in the time to do the math, they aren't that hard to figure out.

Along with the regional rankings came the typical questions for those following them for the first time.

"How can Grand Valley be ranked No. 1 in the country but No. 3 in their own region?"

hose of us who have been following Division II know the answer. National ranking in the AFCA or polls have nothing to do with playoff selection. The regional rankings are all that matter from a playoff participation standpoint.

Practically, the NCAA could release only one regional ranking, the one at the end. After all, that is when all schedules and results are complete. All we are seeing now is a mid-season snapshot of what would happen if the playoffs were to start on Saturday.

This early release of the regional rankings provides a barometer to allow teams to figure out different scenarios that ensure their participation in the playoffs.

Teams can move up or down based upon a couple of factors, but they can only control one. Winning and losing D2 games has a huge impact on where a team will be ranked. The other factor, strength of schedule, is something over which the team has no control. They have to play the teams on their schedule, as do the teams with which they are fighting for participation.

This Week

It would be hard to live up to last week, but this week is no slouch when it comes to great contests. In fact, it's very close.

There are three equally great contests. The first kicks off Thursday.

Delta State at Valdosta State

The teams are both Top-10 teams and both have playoff and Gulf South Conference championship aspirations. The most interesting thing about this game is that both have new coaches and neither team has faced competition nearly as tough as it will in this game.

The winner of the game will essentially be a win over North Alabama away from a conference championship and an undefeated season. The loser is still likely to be in the playoffs, no matter its result against UNA.

Catawba at Carson-Newman

This is how things "used to be" every year in the South Atlantic Conference. Whichever team won this game would end up as the SAC champion.

In the past two years, Presbyterian and Newberry have won the conference while Catawba and Carson-Newman didn't live even live up to their conference reputations, much less their national standing.

They're both back in the SAC and the nation.

And they're both pretty close to being locks for the playoffs. After this game, Wingate is the toughest team on the schedule of both C-N and Cat U. Right know, that looks like a winnable game for both teams - meaning the loser of this game will likely only have one loss at the end of the season.

Nebraska-Omaha at North Dakota
This is a battle of two heavyweights in Division II.

In spite of the fact that both are undefeated and unlike the first two games between ranked opponents, this game is extremely important to both teams.

Either looks like it could be the class of the North Central Conference, but there are still tough opponents left in conference play. In addition, they both play in the same region as Grand Valley, who will most likely go undefeated during the regular season.

Provided it wins the rest of their games, the winner would most likely have the top seed in the region with Grand Valley in the second slot. The loser, however, will likely have to play in the first round (no bye week) and potentially travel to Allendale in the playoffs - not a desirable situation.

Midwestern State at Tarleton State
Tarleton State has quietly put together an undefeated season. Midwestern State suffered its first loss last week against West Texas A&M.

However, the stakes are the same for both.

In spite of the fact that Midwestern has a loss, they only have one really tough game left - Abilene Christian. Tarleton, however, has games left with Abilene Christian and West Texas.

Both teams need this game to give themselves some room for error the remainder of the way.

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