The past few days I have had multiple people ask me what our playoff chances look like after the loss to MSU and what it takes to keep us in contention. I have some good news, you can breathe easy……for now.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about how I think the Division II playoff teams should be picked, and you can read that beautiful treatise right here. Copy the Link-https://thelionwire.com/2015/12/04/the-way-things-arent-but-should-be-btbs-plan-for-a-fair-post-season/
So, let’s get right to how this all works.
Every Division II Football Conference is a member of a region, and there are four regions in all. On average, each Region has 4 conference members, with the exception of Super Region 2, that has 3 member conferences. Step one to the postseason is how to make the playoffs, so here is how it works for the Lions.
Our Super Region has the following conferences with the schools named as well.
Great Northwest Athletic Conference-
Lone Star Conference–
Eastern New Mexico
West Texas A&M
Western New Mexico
Northern Sun Intercollegiate League-
St. Cloud State
University of Mary
Sioux Falls University
Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-
Colorado College Of Mines
South Dakota College Of Mines
Fort Lewis State
New Mexico Highlands
So, there is your Region field. 38 teams compete for 7 spots to go to the playoffs. In the case of the Lone Star Conference, whoever is the highest ranked team that does not get selected to the playoffs goes the CHAMPS Heart Of Texas Bowl in Copperas Cove. A few words regarding selection.
Conference Champions Means Nothing-You can win your conference and not get an invite. It happens all the time. If you are in a weak conference and go undefeated in conference play, but lose to out of conference opponents, you have a great chance of not going. A good example is back in 2013, West Texas A&M was the lone LSC playoff team, but they finished third behind Eastern New Mexico and Tarleton. Tarleton went to the HOT Bowl and Eastern did not even get a postseason invite.
Everything depends on how you rank up against the other teams in your region and ONLY games played against Division II foes. Beating a Division I team does absolutely nothing for regional rankings, nor losing to a Division III or NAIA. That is right, the Lions could walk into Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, take down Nick Saban and Alabama, and it would mean absolutely nothing if they lose to Midwestern by 1. I cover this in my prior column above about how out of division games should be scored.
Higher seeds mean more home games. Getting the top seed in the region, which is what the Lions were sitting at a few days ago, means two things. Home field advantage until the National Semifinal game, and also a week off before to prepare. Even a second or third seed gets perks that lower ones do not get.
The final regional rankings and all prior rankings are all selected by the NCAA. Usually, the AFCA polls will align with the NCAA regional rankings, thought not always, but if one wants to see a good shot of how their team stands in regards to getting into the postseason. So, essentially look at the AFCA Top 25 and then pick the top seven in your region.
Here is the latest full poll-
|1.||Northwest Missouri St. (34)||6-0||850||1|
|6.||Midwestern St. (Texas)||4-0||682||10|
|7.||Grand Valley St. (Mich.)||5-1||615||8|
|8.||Fort Hays St. (Kan.)||6-0||600||11|
|9.||Slippery Rock (Pa.)||6-0||516||12|
|13.||Winona St. (Minn.)||6-0||367||22|
|14.||Bowie St. (Md.)||6-0||358||19|
|15.||Ferris St. (Mich.)||4-1||356||15|
|18.||Sioux Falls (S.D.)||5-1||287||6|
|19.||Southeastern Oklahoma St.||6-0||223||23|
|21.||Delta St. (Miss.)||5-1||206||9|
|25.||Humboldt St. (Calif.)||4-1||82||17|
Every highlighted school in the poll is in the same region as the Lions, so picking the top 7 who would go to the playoffs, here is how the playoffs would look like if they were to start this Saturday.
Minnesota State, First Round Bye
# 5 Colorado State-Pueblo @ # 4 Texas A&M-Commerce
# 6 Winona State @ # 3 Central Washington
# 7 Colorado-Mesa @ # 2 Midwestern State
So, what is best case scenario for the Lions at this point? First, if the Lions win out, they will go probably as a 4th seed. Now, if Minnesota State loses to Winona State and if Midwestern loses one game, the Lions could go back up to as high as the second seed, and if Central Washington loses to either Humbolt State or Azusa Pacific, the Wildcats drop a lot. All TAMUC can do at this point is win out and win the games convincingly.
So yes, this could mean that the Lions and Midwestern could meet again, but if that happened at this point, that means another trip to Wichita Falls, but we still have 5 games left to play, and a lot could happen in that time. The official regional rankings will probably be released after this Saturday, so that will give us 100 percent clarity up to that point.
But for now, I hope this sheds some light on the picture.