NAIA Bracketology Report – Final Edition
It was a fun lead up to the NAIA National Tournament Selection Show on Thursday. We enjoyed this segment with Red Banner Roundball and glad he was able to come on board with us. Red Banner Roundball has a passion for putting together projections for the NAIA National Tournament. He has been doing it for years and now that the NAIA is 1 Division we have teamed up with them to help bring you a NAIA Bracketology Report. Red Banner will act as our “Joey Brackets” per say as we continue to look for ways to bring you the best NAIA Hoops Coverage around! He will have one last bracket posted on Twitter on Thursday: @RedBannerRB
We will start this article by saying that this is meant to be a fun article and by no means do we expect to be 100% accurate with the projections. We have done a lot of research on auto bids, ARC’s, RPI’s and SoS’s and used the data at hand to do our best to project what could happen with the NAIA National Tournament this season.
With us still being in the middle of Championship week, the bracket is constantly being updated, so while this will be the last Bracketology Report, Red Banner Basketball will be updating and releasing the final bracket update on Thursday morning as long as the RPI and SoS rankings are posted ahead of time. The actual Selection Show will be on Thursday, March 4th at 7pm Central Time via the NAIA Facebook Page.
The Pods are based off of a few things:
1. We based our RPI, SoS and ARC ratings off of what can be found on the NAIA website in the Coaches Corner.
2. We made it so that no conference would have two teams facing one another to make it to the Sweet 16 in Kansas City. With that, some of the ARC’s overlap with one team going to a completely different Pod not aligned with their Pods.
3. Records for bracket are updated through Sunday’s Tournament games.
4. From what we know, it sounds like the Final 16 teams will be reseeded headed into Kansas City!
5. We used ARC, RPI and SoS data in order to take our best guess at how these games would play out!
River States Conference
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference
North Star Athletic Conference
Southern States Athletic Conference
The Sun Conference
Red River Athletic Conference
Sooner Athletic Conference
– These are Updated Pod Ratings based off of how we see them since the last ARC ratings were released on February 16th.
Storylines to watch:
48 Teams will make it into the 2020-21 NAIA National Tournament. There will be 37 auto-bids, leaving 11 at-large spots.
1. With just 11 at-large slots open, do we see leagues like the Crossroads, GPAC, Mid-South and Sooner get 4 teams in?!?
2. How does the committee determine seeding and at-large slots for those teams who have smaller bodies of work compared to those who played 20+ games. More games = more chances to lose! Do they stick to RPI ratings?! Because those don’t factor in Home vs Away games. Or even Conference games, which are much tougher to win sometimes because coaches know one another.
3. We now know Xavier is in from the GCAC, which means that Talladega locks up one of the At-large slots. With just 10 at-large slots remaining now, bubble teams are going to be really cheering on teams like Providence in the Frontier Conference, Northwestern in the GPAC and Olivet Nazarene in the Chicagoland. They will also be rooting against Martin Methodist in the Mid-South,
4. Some Bubble teams who should be nervous on Thursday.
– Bethel (IN), A team that has been a Top 25 team for most of the season has now lost 7 of it’s last 9 games and were defeated in the 1st round of the Crossroads Tournament. It would be a shame to leave Trevion Crews out of the NAIA Tournament, but you do have to win games and unfortunately they haven’t and Saint Francis did. Including knocking off #1 Indiana Wesleyan by 22pts at IWU and playing for the Crossroads Tournament Championship.
– Cumberlands (KY), such a talented group, but like Bethel, they just never really helped themselves down the stretch. Going 5-5 over their last 10 games and losing their 1st game in the Mid-South Tournament to Martin Methodist.
– Dakota Wesleyan, another team that was red hot at one point during the season, but went 5-5 down the stretch and lost to the 8-seed Mount Marty in the GPAC Semifinals. They did beat Jamestown late in the year and one of the two teams is IN, it’s just a question of if a 4th team from the GPAC makes it in as well?!?
– The GSAC Bubble Teams in both The Master’s and William Jessup, This one will be hard for the committee, a league that usually gets a ton of respect, but didn’t play a full season and didn’t have a conference tournament. It will be really tough to compare them to other teams across the country and see how they match up.
– LSU Alexandria, this is a team that in the last RPI ratings was ranked 70th. Only the Top 80 RPI teams are supposed to be considered. They didn’t play a regular season game since February 9th and then lost in the opening round of the RRAC Tournament. This is a group, led by two Freshman, who will be really good down the road, but the question is have they done enough to get into the NAIA National Tournament this season?
– Lyon, One of the best defensive teams in the NAIA, but play in a one bid league and the Regular Season Champions got knocked off in the AMC Semifinals. They have lost 3 games by just 1 possession and should boast a RPI Top 50 rating on Thursday when they come out.
– Mayville State, They did everything they needed to do in the North Star during the regular season, but got beat, at home, in the NSAA semifinals by Dakota State. Have they done enough to get a 2nd team in from the NSAA?!
– Wayland Baptist, The 3rd place team from the Sooner Athletic Conference. They boast a 7-5 record as they only played in 12 games and most of which were conference games. With MACU now in the SAC Tournament Title game, you would think they jumped Wayland Baptist for an At-large spot. The question is does the SAC get it’s normal reputation bid and get a 4th team into the NAIA National Tournament?!?
5. Bubble Teams who are feeling pretty good right now:
– Carroll, They don’t always get a ton of love, but this is a team that has now won 12 of their last 13 games. They beat #10 Providence once, and their only loss in that run was to Providence. With Lewis-Clark State leaving the conference it’s a bit down this year, but they made the FC Title game and while they can be a little nervous on Thursday still, they should be fine.
– MACU, Now playing in the SAC Title game, you have to think they jumped Wayland Baptist and will be the 3rd SAC team to qualify, even if they lose to USAO in the Championship. They aren’t as solid of an “in” as others, but with a road win against #9 SAGU in the SAC Quarterfinals, you would think that was the win they needed to get over the hump and to be able to breathe a bit easier now.
– Texas A&M Texarkana, they pulled off the season sweep of LSU Alexandria and now that they are playing for the RRAC Title, they should be al ock to make it into the NAIA National Tournament.
– Saint Francis (IN), Since getting back healthy and to full strength, USF has won 7 straight, including a 28pt blow out of #1 Indiana Wesleyan on the road. They play for the Crossroads League Title on Tuesday, but win or lose they are in the NAIA National Tournament.
– Thomas More, We know one thing, the Mid-South will get 3 teams in for sure. With Cumberlands losing in the 1st round of the MSC Tournament, and Thomas More getting themselves back on track with wins over #15 Georgetown to end the regular season. They also won their quarterfinal game against Freed Hardeman. You would think that even if they lose to Georgetown in the semifinals that they have a better overall body of work then Cumberlands and will get into the NAIA National Tournament.