First Take: MCLA Bracket Projections
We're six days away from Selection Sunday when it all gets laid out for us in both divisions of the MCLA, so it's time to put together my first mock bracket of the week (there will be several to come over the coming days as more information trickles in).
There are seven automatic qualifiers still to be handed out in MCLA-I and six in MCLA-II, so it'll take a couple of estimates as to how the remaining conference tournaments will play out. You'll be able to figure those out as you look at what I've come up with at this point.
Let's take a look at the senior circuit first.
MCLA Division I Tournament
No. 16 Minnesota-Duluth (UMLL) vs. No. 1 Cal Poly (WCLL)
No. 15 Illinois (GRLC) vs. No. 2 Brigham Young (RMLC)
No. 14 Texas (LSA) vs. No. 3 Colorado State (AL)
No. 13 California (AL) vs. No. 4 Chapman (SLC)
No. 12 Pittsburgh (AL) vs. No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (AL)
No. 11 Michigan State (CCLA) vs. No. 6 Arizona State (AL)
No. 10 Colorado (AL) vs. No. 7 Oregon (PNCLL)
No. 9 Virginia Tech (SELC) vs. No. 8 Buffalo (PCLL)
Almost every selection and seed was a struggle. I'm projecting Arizona State to beat UC Santa Barbara in the SLC semis, which will bump the Sun Devils up a spot, but not hurt the Gauchos too much.
The last two teams in the field right now are Pittsburgh and California. I've projected the Panthers to lose to Michigan State in the CCLA tourney, but they should still get through.
Cal is a true bubble team, and it will be the squad waiting anxiously to see who gets the AQ in the PCLL. If any team but Buffalo gets it, the Bears are toast. The same is true with Oregon and the PNCLL (although Fraser upsetting the Ducks is more of a long shot). In addition, if Cal loses to Sonoma State in the semifinals of the WCLL tourney, that will be a deathblow, likely opening a second spot for the PCLL.
MCLA Division II Tournament
No. 16 Washington U. (GRLC) vs. No. 1 St. Thomas (UMLL)
No. 15 Elon (SELC) vs. No. 2 Grand Valley State (CCLA)
No. 14 Gonzaga (PNCLL) vs. No. 3 Davenport (AL)
No. 13 Sam Houston State (LSA) vs. No. 4 St. John's (AL)
No. 12 St. Mary's (AL) vs. No. 5 Westminster (RMLC)
No. 11 Concordia (AL) vs. No. 6 Dayton (AL)
No. 10 Grand Canyon (SLC) vs. No. 7 SCAD (AL)
No. 9 Briarcliffe (PCLL) vs. No. 8 North Dakota State (AL)
The semifinals and finals of the CCLA could swing any of three ways at this point, but I've projected GVSU beating Davenport in the finals for this bracket. Everything in the Top 8 flows pretty well right now, and, yes, I'm confident SCAD will get a bid despite not qualifying for the SELC tourney.
The last team in at this point is St. Mary's, and the Gaels are a very tentative pick. There are several potential scenarios in which St. Mary's will get the boot, with the most possible one being Cal State Fullerton beating Concordia, which I think would send three SLC teams through.
Out of the automatic qualifying conferences, I've got Washington U. (GRLC) and Gonzaga (PNCLL) getting the nod right now, but I would not be shocked if Missouri Baptist and Western Washington took the titles, respectively. If it's the latter scenario, it could shuffle up the bottom four seeds a little bit.