Selection Thursday is here and it’s going to be an interesting one. This is the 1st year with one division at the NAIA level and now, with Covid, the NAIA has elected to move the tournament from a 64 team field, down to just 48 teams. While we go back to a 64 team field next year, this 48 team field is going to make for a lot of tough decisions for the Selection Committee. There are a fair amount of teams who would be safely in if it were still a 64 team field. However, now they have plenty to be nervous about.
Lets start with those who are IN the tournament via the 37 auto-bids:
1. AMC – Central Baptist – Winners of the AMC Regular Season
2. AAC – Union, winners of the AAC Tournament – Tennessee Wesleyan, selected by AAC Committee for 2nd bid.
3. Aii: Voorhees – Aii Tournament winners and College of the Ozarks, runner up
4. CalPac: Benedictine University – Mesa, Winners of the CalPac Round Robin Tournament
5. Cascade: #4 Lewis-Clark State, winners of the CCC Best of 3
6. Chicagoland: Olivet Nazarene, winners of the CCAC regular season – Holy Cross, regular season runner-up – IU-South Bend, CCAC Tournament Champions.
7. Crossroads: #1 Indiana Wesleyan, CL Regular Season Champions – #13 Marian, CL Tournament Champions.
8. Frontier Conference: #10 Providence, FC Tournament Champions
9. Golden State: #5 Arizona Christian, East Champion – Vanguard, West Champion
10. GPAC: #12 Morningside, GPAC Regular Season Champions, #23 Northwestern, GPAC Tournament Champions
11. GCAC: Xavier – GCAC Tournament Champions
12. Heart: #2 William Penn, Regular Season and Tournament Champions – #22 Benedictine (KS), Regular Season runner-up – Park (MO), Host Bid
13. KCAC: #18 Bethel (KS), Regular Season and Tournament Champion – #20 Oklahoma Wesleyan, Regular Season runner-up.
14. Mid-South: #6 Shawnee State, Regular Season and Tournament Champions. – #15 Georgetown, Regular season runner-up.
15. NorthStar: Bellevue, NSAA Tournament Champions.
16. Red River: #3 LSU – Shreveport, Regular season and tournament champions.
17. River States: WVU Tech, Tournament Champions – Rio Grande, Tournament Runner-up.
18. Sooner: #8 SAGU, Regular season champions – #11 Science and Arts, Tournament Champions
19. SSAC: #7 Faulkner, SSAC Tournament Champions, #14 Stillman, SSAC Tournament runner-up.
20. The Sun: Warner, Regular season champions – Keiser, Tournament Champions.
21. WHAC: Rochester, Regular season champions – Indiana Tech, WHAC Tournament Champions
That leaves us with 11 at-large berths that are up to the selection committee. Here are the ones who are for sure IN:
1. #9 Talladega
2. #16 Loyola
3. #17 Texas A&M Texarkana
4. #24 Saint Francis (IN)
The remaining 7 at-large spots get a little bit more tricky. The next grouping of teams should be in, but will be nervous.
6. Thomas More
That means there are 4 slots open for a large grouping of teams. All of these teams will be a bit nervous as they watch the selection show tonight. No particular order:
#19 LSU – Alexandria
#21 Bethel (Ind)
#25 Cumberlands (KY)
Intriguing storylines to watch:
1. Who gets the overall #1 seed between Indiana Wesleyan and William Penn?
2. Do we see any league get a 5th team into the bracket?
3. How does the committee group the Pods? Is it strictly seeding, then location? Or do they go by the predetermined slots that were used in an earlier release?
4. What does the Committee value most when selecting at-large bids? RPI? SoS? Tradition? League reputation? A lot of underlying variables going into play here. This is the 1st year of this process, so they will set the tone for future years on teams being selected!
5. Loaded Pods. There are some tough ARC’s out there, so if the committee keeps those POD selections accurate with the ARC’s still aligned, there could be some CRAZY talented Pods with 3 ranked opponents within that particular Pod.
Selection Day is always a fun day for most, but we must remember that a lot of teams seasons end today as well. No matter if you’re already in, on the bubble, or even already done with your season, enjoy the day! The NAIA is one of the most challenging tournaments in all of sports! It’s been a crazy season, but you all made it so fun to watch! Many Seniors won’t be back, for those of you moving on, thank you for choosing to play NAIA and giving everything you have!
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