Monday Notebook: MCLA Division II
- It will be interesting to see how North Dakota State finishes up its season. One of the many second-tier teams in the UMLL for years, the Bison have ramped up their program -- and more importantly, their schedule -- this year. They just finished off a three-game swing through the Pacific Northwest and posted some solid results. NDSU defeated Southern Oregon (7-6) and Western Washington (12-4) while falling to No. 6 Western Oregon, 15-13.
NDSU has plenty of dates with UMLL flotsam in the future, but there are also contests against No. 18 Missouri State, No. 14 Northern Colorado, No. 2 Davenport, No. 5 St. John's and No. 3 St. Thomas. If the Bison can go 2-3 against that competition, the strength of schedule will get this program a long look during the selection process.
- We can put one preseason contender to bed after this weekend. Tennessee Wesleyan has been eliminated from the SELC tournament after losing to Emory on Saturday. Kennesaw State and Emory are atop the Southwest Division with 3-0 conference records with just a head-to-head match-up remaining. The program showed a lot of promise and was thought to be a threat in the SELC this year, but the schedule, which is relatively strong, took its toll and the Bulldogs couldn't win the conference games they needed. TWC's Super Bowl will come against Tennessee on April 19.
- This weekend's game between No. 8 Briarcliffe and No. 9 Grove City will hold different value for these teams. Briarcliffe is a lead-pipe lock to come out of the PCLL, so Friday night's game will provide a good benchmark for the Bulldogs if they lose, and help them in the tournament seedings with a win. For Grove City, the game must be classified as a "must-win."
If the Wolverines bow to Briarcliffe, they will realistically bring a 6-5 record into CCLA tournament. They are bound to get a very difficult opponent in the first round (GCC drew Davenport last year), meaning they will have a 6-6 record with no Top 15 wins to their credit to show to the committee. That won't be a comfortable spot to be in come May.
- There are 16 bids to the tournament. Here's how I see the bids being dispensed by conference at this point, barring massive upsets: CCLA 3, SELC 3, RMLC 2, UMLL 2, SLC 2, GRLC 1, LSA 1, PCLL 1, PNCLL 1, WCLL 0. I've give the last bid to the SLC, but that could easily go to one of the four conferences ahead of them, depending on how things play out.
- No. 18 Missouri State and No. 13 Hope played to a 6-6 draw on Saturday. I don't know the circumstances that mandated a tie (it was rumored to be weather related), so I won't pass judgment. This practice should be avoided if at all possible, however, just from a PR standpoint...if Utah Valley doesn't beat Westminster in the final game of the season and then stumbles again in the RMLC tournament, I still think the Wolverines will be get a bid with a record of 8-3, but it won't be a very good seed. It would probably by No. 8-plus.