NCAA Division II Bracket Projections
The first-ever eight-team NCAA Division II bracket will be rolled out at 7:30 p.m. EDT this evening, and it will undoubtedly be a strong field. Here is how I have both regions shaking out.
The North was the more difficult of the two regions to figure out. The top two seeds have been booked for about a month, with Adelphi and LIU Post distinguishing themselves for most of the season. The Panthers only defeat prior to today's loss to Le Moyne was a road clunker to St. Michael's, a setback they redeemed with style in a 22-6 trouncing in the Northeast-10 semifinals. Post's two losses are to Adelphi, and a heartbreaking setback to top-ranked Mercyhurst when the Lakers rallied from a three-goal deficit in the final quarter for a 14-13 victory.
On the strength of its record (15-2) and its ability to beat both teams that handed it losses during the regular season – including the win over Adelphi in the NE-10 championship game – Le Moyne is the right fit at No. 3.
The last spot was where things got tight. Conventional wisdom tells me that, with as close as the two leagues are, the ECC and Northeast-10 should have two representatives each. That would mean that NYIT would be the natural pick for No. 4. That kind of logic, however, doesn't always stand up in the numbers-driven world of tournament selection.
NYIT will have to outkick Merrimack for the final spot. Both have two regional losses, and both came against regionally ranked teams. Each has two regionally ranked wins. It'll probably come down to the little things, and one of those is how the teams finished. The Bears are currently on a seven-game tear while the Warriors have lost two of their last four. I think that's what gives it to NYIT.
No. 4 NYIT (12-2) at No. 1 Adelphi (14-2)
The South representatives appear self-evident; it's the seeding that will get a little tricky. Mercyhurst is obviously the No. 1 team in the bracket after they coasted to the first-ever ECAC-II title, cinching a perfect season. Limestone, the national runner-ups last year, have cemented their spot in the second chair after Seton Hill's loss to Lake Erie in the ECAC semifinals.
That leaves Lake Erie and Seton Hill to fill out the final two spots – Pfeiffer lacks the resume. With either road contests against Mercyhurst or Limestone in the first round, there isn't much of an advantage to either of these seeds. It's going to be a tall order, either way.
The Storm and Griffins split their two meetings. Seton Hill has a 2-3 mark against regionally-ranked South teams (the NYIT game counts), while Lake Erie is 1-3. Seton Hill is currently running on a two-game losing streak, which doesn't always bode well, but I like the Griffins to ride their win over Pfeiffer to the No. 3 seed. The Storm check in at No. 4 and play Mercyhurst for the third time in a month.
No 4. Lake Erie (12-4) at No. 1 Mercyhurst (16-0)