Just like in D1, we were treated with the brackets mere hours after the final conference tournament games concluded on Sunday night. Here’s some instant reaction about how the bracket was created and the seeding and matchups within.
You can view the entire bracket with links to matchups and game previews at MCLA.us
Here are all the teams in seed order, with AQ and At-Large status indicated:
- St. Thomas (UMLL AQ)
- Westminster (RMLC AQ)
- St. John’s (At Large)
- Liberty (SELC AQ)
- Concordia (SLC AQ)
- Grand Valley State (CCLA AQ)
- Palm Beach Atlantic (At Large)
- Sam Houston State (At Large)
- US Coast Guard (At Large)
- Indiana Tech (At Large)
- Savannah College of Art and Design (At Large)
- Grove City (At Large)
- North Dakota State (At Large)
- Western Oregon (PNCLL AQ)
- Briarcliffe (PCLL AQ)
- Depaul (GRLC AQ)
Couple of surprises in the form of AQ’s, first with Depaul winning the GRLC, though roughly 37 teams could’ve won that league this year. Second, and more importantly, Briarcliffe turned the regular season result around and upset US Coast Guard in the PCLL championship to steal away the AQ, and send a team on the bubble home.
How the Bubble Shook Out
So who got hurt by the Briarcliffe win? It looks like Elon and Florida Gulf Coast have the biggest gripes. However, the cases to get into the field are shaky for both teams, and the D2 field presented the committee with quite the challenge in terms of both At Large selection and seeding in 2013.
Let’s take a look at teams that found themselves in the discussion for At Large berths:
- St. John’s
- Palm Beach Atlantic
- US Coast Guard
- Indiana Tech
- Grove City
- Sam Houston State
- North Dakota State
- Florida Gulf Coast
In no real particular order, let’s talk through these teams and the difficult situation around picking 8 teams out of 10 fighting for an At Large.
St. John’s – St. John’s was always in. Clearly. We can all agree on that, let’s hope.
Palm Beach Atlantic – Some people discredited PBA’s overall resume in some forum chatter, but I stand by my assertion that PBA was the second best At Large almost all season long. Wins over Grand Valley, Sam Houston, and Florida Gulf Coast seem to support that point. The SCAD loss was mentioned as a bad loss earlier, but SCAD played PBA into a stronger position by getting hot late.
Indiana Tech – The Warriors started *air quotes* slow *air quotes*, but a convincing win over Dayton that essentially removed the Flyers from At Large discussion and another convincing win over Grand Valley likely got Indiana Tech into the field quite easily. I would’ve had IT as my third At Large in.
Grove City – The Wolverines’ schedule may be toughest to stomach for At Large misses Elon and FGCU. Look for a quality win and you won’t find it. Dayton? I think we all know now that they were a fraud living off past goodwill in 2013. Grove City gets in by the margin of a Wolverine whisker, likely on the “merit” of an OT loss to the streaking Grand Valley State Lakers.
Sam Houston – Is there a team that gets more hate than the Bearkats? If there is, I haven’t run across them. While I don’t love their seeding, a little high for my blood, I agree with the committee that Sam Houston was easily in the field for 2013, earned by a strong OOC trip to Florida.
Florida Gulf Coast – New blood to the national scene, the FGCU Eagles crossed their fingers on Sunday night hoping for a seed, any seed, maybe even a fortuitous and ironic 15 seed again? Not to be. The loss to PBA at home to close the season and force them to miss the SELC playoffs ends up being the death knell for their national tournament hopes as well. The win that could have gotten them in? The Eagles shocked Grand Valley in their first game of the season, but my money is on the committee feels if they met again that Kransberger and Co. wouldn’t be as kind to the boys from Fort Meyers.
US Coast Guard – The Bears caused confusion mid-season, as word came out that they had actually submitted paperwork to fulfill a bid to the national tournament. They caused headaches when they blew the PCLL title game and allowed an overall unimpressive Briarcliffe team into the field. The PCLL didn’t have any OOC wins to hang their hats on aside from USCG’s win over SCAD in February. What’s more, is that the USCG had been higher in human polls than computer polls all season. But the Briarcliffe win and the SCAD streak had an odd buoying effect on USCG in the computer polls late. If the committee had one eye on each set of polling it is likely what pushed the Bears into the field, and shockingly to me as high as the 9 seed.
North Dakota State – And finally, the combo breaker for the committee. As soon as I thought I had their formula figured out, NDSU comes along and makes me reassess. First, I thought they were looking for quality wins. Then Grove City gets in. Then I thought they were looking for the teams that finished hot. But looking at that nasty loss to St. John’s, we can’t honestly argue they finished hot right? Despite the ugly finish, the Bison did have two wins that pushed them over the top: an early season win over Indiana Tech in addition to a win over PNCLL champ Western Oregon, both on neutral sites.
So we are left with Elon and FGCU looking for chairs when the music stopped, with none left open. Both have arguments for being in the field, Elon maybe the strongest with wins over tournament teams Briarcliffe and Grove City. But in the end, with this field of bubble teams the committee was stuck between a rock and a bracket that needed to be completed.
What I Would Change
For At Large’s, I am pretty sure I would have lobbied hard for Elon over Grove City. Outside of an OT loss to Grand Valley, Grove City has no resume. Elon also beat Grove City head-to-head, which for the sake of this discussion looks … bad at best. I’m fine with FGCU being out, the committee might as well call it the “SCAD Rule” after making the same decision on the Bees in the identical situation in 2012 when they missed their own league playoffs.
For seeding, I really don’t like that St. John’s and WOU get stuck in a repeat matchup. I like it less when I point out that Grove City is the weakest At Large, and you could easily sort the teams as such:
12. NDSU, 13. WOU, 14. Grove City
And prevent that repeat matchup without any complaints. That would clearly signal Grove City as the weakest At Large, barely making the field. As it is, NDSU is seeded lower with a better resume. Not really sure what the thought process was on that one.
As for the other overall seeding? I said SHSU and USCG were a little high for my tastes, but honestly I am fine with where they are because who would I move? No one really, and the two get the pleasure of beating each other up just to get blasted back to the Stone Age by the Tommies.
Where the D1 bracket was a near masterpiece, the D2 bracket leaves a couple more questions and a couple more feelings hurt. In the end, the product of the games on the field is strong, and the top teams have been substantively rewarded with correct seeding. Nice work by the committee once again, and I look forward to how these play out!