Welcome to our 1st rendition of our Bracketology Report. As in years past, we have partnered with Red Banner Roundball (@RedBannerRB) to bring you the BEST NAIA Tournament coverage around! This is a FUN report that should help give insights to the automatic qualifiers, the teams we see as at-large bids at the moment, plus much, much more! Red Banner Roundball serves as our “Joey Brackets” type figure and in the final Bracketology Report last season, he went 48 of 48 on teams making the National Tournament. While this is the 1st Bracketology Report of the season, we do expect plenty of teams to play themselves both in and out of the tournament picture! With this just being the 2nd year of having 1 division in the NAIA and the 1st year with the full 64 team field, there are plenty of interesting perspectives on how it pans out. While we won’t always have all of the answers, hopefully you can use this as your guide as we finish the last two months of the season!

For the actual NAIA Selection Committee Policy you can read more here:

2021 NAIA Men’s Basketball National Selection Committee Policy

The Bracket

Tournament Seeding

ARC Ratings

Committee Appointment Process Area Ranking Committees (ARC) – Area Ranking Committees will consist of a representative from each conference in that local area as well as an at-large representative from the National Selection Committee. ARC’s will meet, via conference call, every other week beginning Monday, January 17. The out-of-area, at-large representative being involved in this part of the process allows for a better understanding of another area that isn’t their own and also adds more transparency. 

Crossroads League
Mid-South Conference
River States Conference
Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference
Appalachian Athletic Conference
Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
Southern States Athletic Conference
The Sun Conference
American Midwest Conference
Heart of America

Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference

American Independent Institutions
Red River Athletic Conference
Sooner Athletic Confer
California Pacific Conference
Great Plains Athletic Conference
North Star Athletic Conference
Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference
Cascade Collegiate Conference
Frontier Conference
Golden State Athletic Conference

Bid Breakdown

Bubble Watch

Last Four In:

Cumberland (TN) – (9-4)  RPI: 20 – SOS: 13

The Mid-South is always a tough league, so Cumberland is used to playing stiff competition. They are a tough team that lost to #10 Thomas More by just 2 points and then lost to #17 Georgetown by just 6pts. Lots of season left for the Mid-South teams as they work to reschedule games that were postponed due to covid and/or weather.

Rochester (MI) – (13-7) RPI: 46 – SOS: 74

Another team that made the tourney last season. Rochester returns it’s main nucleus that has tournament experience and AJ Johnson and Virgil Walker Jr have already helped to lead RU past #7 Indiana Wesleyan. They are also still players for a WHAC title!

Benedictine (KS) – (12-6) RPI: 62 – SOS: 87

A really veteran group, who like others on this list, just haven’t had the season they thought they would coming into the season and returning nearly everyone from a team that won a game in the NAIA tournament last season. This Raven squad though is usually one that gets tougher and tougher as the season goes along, so don’t count them out quite yet.

IU Northwest – (13-6) RPI: 56 – SOS: 127

IU Northwest gets the bump with Paul Quinn being ineligible for post season play. Something we knew, just missed on revisal. IUN can help themselves a lot if they can move into that 3-hole of the CCAC Standings. Being a 3-bid league, it gives the 3 seed the chance to advance if one of the Top 2 seeds win the CCAC Tourney. They have a lot of opportunities left on their schedule, for now though, they remain on the bubble!



First Four Out:

Dordt (IA) – (13-7)  RPI: 50 – SOS: 80

Huntington (IN) – (14-6) RPI: 40 – SOS: 62

The Master’s (CA) – (12-6) RPI: 45 – SOS: 91

 MSU Northern – (12-6) RPI: 98  SOS: 127


Next Four Out:

Midland (NE) – (14-7) RPI: 60  SOS: 133

Cumberlands (KY) – (12-6) RPI: 37 SOS: 68

Westmont (CA) – (11-5) RPI: 37  SOS:49



Final Thoughts

Again I want to state that this is just a fun guide to help people to start thinking and talking about the NAIA Men’s National Tournament. This will all change many of times before the official bracket announcement on Thursday, March 3rd at 7pm CT.  We are hearing word of one league possibly losing an auto-bid. We will have more on that when it becomes official. Like we said, this bracket will continue to evolve as the season progresses forward! This is always a great time of year as teams jockey for seeding within their own conference tournaments. It is also a really fun year because having a 64 team field for the first time means that we get to see what leagues get multiple at-large bids. We will see some power conferences that get 4 to 5 teams in the 64-team field. The NAIA does have a LOT more automatic bids then the NCAA tournament, which means that there will be fewer at-large selections and less spots for a league to maybe get 6+ teams into the field. We will go more in-depth with bracket and bubble analysis in future Bracketology Reports as we get closer to the tournament and things are more defined!

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