By A.D. Drew
Co-Host, BCSN Sports Wrap
Two weeks remaining in the Division-II regular season, but we are down to the final week for most Division-II HBCU’s, and the playoff picture is getting clearer. Who’s in? Who’s out? Who needs help? Let’s examine what it will take for the various D-II HBCU’s to get into the “tournament”.
Just a reminder… Division-II teams must be ranked within the top 7 teams in their Super-Region. An exception is made for conference champions who must finish in the top 9 to qualify (at the expense of a top 7 finisher). Each super region is made up of four conferences, plus any independents that are geographically within the footprint of that region. The number one seed gets a bye, and the remaining six play round one. Seeds two, three, and four are at home in round one. NEW FOR 2019: The remaining three teams are matched up geographically with the three home teams for round one. This is done to avoid travel issues and increase attendance in the first round. Super Region 2 comprises most of the HBCU’s. The region encompasses the CIAA and SIAC, along with the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) and Gulf South Conference (GSC).
The current regional rankings in Super Region Two, based upon records versus Division II opponents, through November 4:
- Lenoir-Rhyne | SAC | 9-0
- Valdosta State | GSC | 8-0
- Bowie State | CIAA | 9-0
- Wingate | SAC | 8-1
- West Florida | GSC | 6-1
- Carson Newman | SAC | 5-2
- Virginia State | CIAA | 7-1
- Virginia Union | CIAA | 6-2
- Albany State | SIAC | 6-3
- West Georgia | GSC | 6-3
Bowie State. Bowie State is the CIAA North Champions and will play in the CIAA Championship game next Saturday (Nov. 16). Bowie State picked up plenty of style point against Lincoln (PA) this past weekend. They must avoid looking ahead as they travel to Elizabeth City State (2-7). This game should be a Bowie victory by 30+ points. Don’t expect the starters to play past halftime. The Bulldogs will try to avoid any significant injuries before the CIAA conference championship game. If Bowie wins out (including conference championship game), they will host a first-round game. With the proper break, they can host a second-round game also. In a perfect scenario, the Bulldogs could become number one in the Super Region (they will need loses by Valdosta State and Lenoir-Rhyne for this to happen).
Virginia State. Virginia State can finish no higher than 2nd in the CIAA North. Despite being in the top seven, they are not sitting in a good spot with the SIAC not represented in the top 7. A Valdosta State victory over West Florida this week will be essential for the Trojans to advance. West Florida would then drop behind Virginia State to #8 or #9. A Valdosta State loss to West Florida does not help. Valdosta State would probably drop to #4 at the worst. Of course, rival Virginia Union will do their best to spoil the Virginia State party and try to get in themselves.
Virginia Union. Only one of the Virginia schools has a shot at getting in the playoffs and Union has a realistic chance to get in. One of these teams will be eliminated in their head-to-head match-up this weekend. West Florida in the most likely team to lose ahead of Union in the standings. An additional loss by Carson-Newman or Wingate will definitely help. If Albany State wins out, they may bump the Virginia State/Virginia Union winner out of the playoffs (a top nine finish by a conference champion gets an automatic bid). What worries me about the winner of the rivalry game in Virginia is that neither team will play the final week of the season. Will the voters forget about them and drop them in the final poll because they are already sitting at home?
Albany State. Albany State’s victory over Morehouse has the Golden Rams sitting in a good position. Albany has to win out (beat Fort Valley State and the Miles/Tuskegee winner) and they are in. A victory over the Wildcats in the Fountain City Classic will raise their RPI over .500. An in-region victory over West Georgia has boosted the resume. A loss to Fort Valley State sends the Golden Rams home for the season.
OUTSIDE, LOOKING IN
Miles. Miles’ schedule has hurt them. They have not faced an opponent that was above .500 at the time of Saturday’s game. The game versus Tuskegee (5-4) is the first time the Golden Bears will come into a game against a winning team. Miles has only faced one opponent who is currently over .500 (Fort Valley State, week 1). They face Tuskegee for their homecoming and Tuskegee is looking to knock their rivals out as payback for Miles knocking Tuskegee out of the SIAC conference championship game last year. (A.D.’s Stat of the Weekend) Tuskegee is 3-1 in day games this year, and homecoming kicks off at 1pm CST. If Miles wins out, the SIAC will be shut out of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Fayetteville State. The Broncos control their own destiny in the CIAA South. With a victory or a Shaw loss, they will win the CIAA South and face Bowie State in the Championship game. A victory over the Bulldogs as a conference champion still will not get them in the top nine. In addition, a Fayetteville victory will knock out the 2nd CIAA team in Super Region 2. Everyone in the bottom half of the top-10 will need to lose over the next two weeks for the Broncos to get in with a CIAA conference title.
Fort Valley State. Fort Valley has to defeat both Albany State and the SIAC west champion. Quarterback Slade Jarman does not appear likely to play in the Fountain City Classic, which means the Wildcats season is probably done. Fort Valley State is a 7.5-point underdog as of Wednesday’s check of the Vegas line.
Super Region 1
West Virginia State. Despite the loss to Univ. of Charleston (WV), if the Yellow Jackets win out, they are in. That means they must defeat top-rated Notre Dame (OH). The loss versus Charleston really hurts the Yellow Jackets. The strength of the conference will help West Virginia State. Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets have not beaten the tough teams in their conference. West Virginia State is on the outside, looking in. In addition to winning, they must do some scoreboard watching.
DREW’S PROJECTED FINAL RANKINGS (D-II RECORD)
- Lenoir-Rhyne (11-0)*
- Valdosta State (10-0)*
- Bowie State (11-0)*
- Wingate (10-1)
- Carson-Newman (9-2)
- Virginia State (8-1)/Virginia Union (7-2)
- West Florida (9-2)
- Albany State (8-3)*
- Mississippi College (6-3)
- Virginia State (7-2)/Virginia Union (6-3)
Projected First Round Match-Up (Super Region Two)
Lenoir-Rhyne – Bye
Carson-Newman at Valdosta State
Albany State at Bowie State
Virginia State/Union at Wingate
Follow A.D. Drew on Twitter @BCSNDrew