NAIA Bubble Watch
We are inside of the final week of the regular season for most teams/leagues. While a few make up games pushed into next week and the RRAC a majority of teams will finish up this next Saturday with the first conference tournaments scheduled to tip of on February 21st!
We will see many more auto-bids claimed this week! Here are the teams who have already punched their tickets:
#1 William Penn University – Heart of America Regular Season Champions Auto-Bid
#3 Indiana Wesleyan – Crossroads League Regular Season Champions Auto-Bid.
#6 Oklahoma Wesleyan – Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Regular Season Champions Auto-Bid.
#7 Thomas More – Mid-South Conference Regular Season Champions Auto-Bid.
rv Indiana Tech – Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Regular Season Auto-Bid.
Olivet Nazarene and IU South Bend have also clinched, but the auto-bid they claim can still change, so we will leave them out until 39 of the 64 teams coming from the auto-bid pool, it leaves just 25 open slots for for at-large teams. On this list, we elected to break things down by ARC’s as we are evaluating teams on the actual Committee Guidelines used as Primary Criteria for At-Large Selection amongst the teams we view as “On the Bubble”!
1. Winning Percentage
3. Strength of Schedule (SOS)
4. Net Efficiency
5. Area Rating
6. Vs. Top 25 – (Left this one off our list)
Every team that we have listed in the article, who isn’t in the ‘Locks’ segment have either already clinched an auto-bid, are within one win of clinching, or are simply a team that even if they don’t get an auto-bid, they will for sure get an at-large selection. We do have a few leagues where the only teams who will be getting in, are the ones who win the auto-bid(s). There aren’t any Bubble teams listed for those leagues as there aren’t anyone who is on the bubble that could get in if they don’t receive an auto-bid.
Here is how we currently have things projected:
Locks: 32 Teams
Bubble Teams: 28 teams
Should Be In: 11 teams
Work To Do: 17 teams
Already Clinched: Indiana Wesleyan, Thomas More, Indiana Tech
Others: St Francis (IN), Georgetown, Marian, Indiana Tech, UT Southern, IU Kokomo, Grace
8 Auto-Bids: Crossroads (2), Mid-South (2), RSC (2), WHAC (2)
Who Should Be In?
Win%: .846 RPI: 26 SOS: 156 ARC: 11th NET EFF: 12th
WVU Tech has had a great year and even without Tamon Suggs, they have held serve in the River States Conference and won the East Division. Hopefully they can make the RSC Title game and get an auto-bid, because this team deserves to be in! We understand it may get a little sweaty come selection day, but with a Top 30 RPI rating, a high win% and a really good NETEFF, you got to think the Golden Bears are in the Field of 64 even without an auto-bid.
Win%: .679 RPI: 31 SOS: 34 ARC: 13th NET EFF: 46th
Huntington has two late Top 25 wins @ No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan and vs #15 St. Francis (IN). Those were huge wins as they still are in 6th place behind MVNU in the CL Standings. They end the regular season with Goshen and then @ Grace. Two wins and they are almost certainly a lock. Split, and they most likely will need at least 1 win in the CL Tournament. They have work to do, but giving them a bump over MVNU, for now, on the better resume.
Win%: .720 RPI: 17 SOS: 14 ARC: 10th NET EFF: 63rd
This is a very deep ARC, where 12-13 teams may find themselves into the National Championships. Right now Cumberland (TN) holds onto that 4th spot in the Mid-South Conference. If they can get that 4-seed and win a game in the MSC Tournament, they are very likely in. They do have to fend off Cumberlands (KY) and Freed-Hardeman as teams who could sneak in and steal a spot from them.
Has Work To Do
Win%: .643 RPI: 35 SOS: 22 ARC: 12th NET EFF: 81st
Cumberlands (KY) sits in 5th place in the MSC. We know that most Mid-South fans believe that they should get 10 teams in, but that isn’t going to happen. Five though is very realistic, so as the 5th place team, with a good RPI and SOS rating, Cumberlands has a shot if they can stay ahead of FHU. They could benefit from a couple more wins and avoiding an early exit from the MSC Tournament though.
Win%: .678 RPI: 70 SOS: 149 ARC: N/A NET EFF: 55th
Madonna really came on strong in the 2nd half of the season. Their only two losses in 2022 have come at the hands of Indiana Tech. They are currently tied for 2nd place in the WHAC, so without an auto-bid they are have some work to do in what is already an ARC that we could see 14-15 teams get into the NAIA National Championships from.
Win%: .593 RPI: 66 SOS: 209 ARC: N/A NET EFF: 8th
Lourdes has lost 3 of their last 5 games and now and like Madonna and Cornerstone, getting that last WHAC auto-bid is going to be their last chance into the National Championships. Lourdes was red hot for awhile and are still a team with just 6 total losses on the season. However, they are on the outside, looking in, and will have to most likely, win the WHAC Tournament to get in.
Win%: .593 RPI: 41 SOS: 12 ARC: N/A NET EFF: 107th
Freed-Hardeman may not show up on the ARC Ratings for the Great Lakes/South Region, but they have a better RPI/SOS then most on the bubble so we are including them in this segment. They do have a Top 25 win over Georgetown and have wins over several others who will make the tournament. Their win% and NETEFF is killing them, along with them not being ranked inside the Top 16 in their ARC. If they can finish regular season as a Top 5 seed in the MSC plus make it to the MSC Semifinals, they will make their case a lot stronger! As mentioned previously, it is a very tough league, but to expect 6-7 MSC teams in, may be tough!
Win%: .704 RPI: 54 SOS: 139 ARC: 16th NET EFF: 80th
MVNU has won 5 straight, including a win over Huntington to move into 5th place in the Crossroads League. They do have to play No. 17 Marian and then go to No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan this week. They need to find 1 more win between the final two regular season games and the opening round game of the CL Tournament. One more win could get them in, 3 straight losses could end their season.
Arizona Christian, William Jessup, College of Idaho, Carroll, Montana Tech, Hope International
7 Auto-Bids: CalPac (2), Cascade (2), Frontier (1), GSAC (2)
Should Be In
Win%: .704 RPI: 35 SOS: 71 ARC: 8th NET EFF: 51tst
OUAZ may has the best wins out of anyone on the bubble. Those wins consist of 3 ranked opponents in William Jessup, Montana Tech and Hope International. They still have one ranked battle at Arizona Christian, but this is a team that has some really high quality wins even outside of their Top 25 wins. In a league that is one of the best in the country this season, you have to think that OUAZ is on the inside at the moment.
Win%: .714 RPI: 53 SOS: 136 ARC: 7th NET EFF: 21st
Oregon Tech dropped a tough one this past weekend at home that may have just cost them a chance at the regular season crown, however the Owls led the CCC for a majority of the season and at 20-8, they should be stress free on selection day even if they don’t lock up one of the auto-bids. The good news, for them, is that they will be the 2-seed in the CCC Tournament, so they lock up the last auto-bid if them or CoI wins CCC Tournament.
Has Work To Do
Win%: .630 RPI: 35 SOS: 17 ARC: 9th NET EFF: 71st
The GSAC is a deep league, and Vanguard has great tradition and success in the National Tournament. They are another one of these teams that has a lower win% than others, but hard to leave them off the bubble with those RPI and SOS numbers. They also have two Top 10 wins on the year over William Jessup and Talladega. The losses they have several bad losses on their resume though and that may be what does them in at the end of the day!
Win%: .679 RPI: 143 SOS: 229 ARC: 10th NET EFF: 16th
Just a year removed from a National Runner-Up season. This is a group that was a for sure in to start the new semester off. They miss the services of Kevin Baker though. Since the injury, LCSC has struggled a bit and while they have won a couple in a row here, including a nice win over Corban this past weekend, they are most likely going to have to win the CCC Tournament to get into the National Championships this season. The NETEFF rating is good, but the RPI and SOS most likely puts them on the outside looking in.
Clinched: Olivet Nazarene, IU South Bend
Others: Briar Cliff, Concordia (NE)
6 Auto-Bids: CCAC (3), GPAC (2), NSAA (1)
Should Be In
Win%: .759 RPI: 23 SOS: 62 ARC: 5th NET EFF: 35th
Crazy that the Jamestown Jimmies find themselves on the bubble, but at the moment, that is where they stand. Granted, it is on the good side of the bubble and not the bad as the Jimmies have one of the better ‘Primary Consideration’ data sets amongst the Bubble teams. With Top 40 RPI and NETEFF ratings, the Jimmies are “IN” at this moment of time, but not quite a lock just yet.
Has Work To Do
Win%: .778 RPI: 41 SOS: 161 ARC: 8th NET EFF: 36th VsTop25: 0-2
IU Northwest is sitting in great shape for the CCAC’s 3rd auto-bid. Since the Tournament Champion is the last auto-bid to be decided, IU Northwest will get in if them, ONU or IUSB win the CCAC Tournament. That is 3 out of 8 chances in the CCAC Tournament! It gives them more outs than any other team in the CCAC. If one of the other five teams were to win the CCAC Tournament, well then IU Northwest should be a little nervous.
Win%: .704 RPI: 34 SOS: 67 ARC: 7th NET EFF: 48th
It will be interesting to see what the committee does with the teams from the GPAC. It is a league where three teams should for sure be in, but Dordt and Northwestern may be in a battle to get a 4th team in. Dordt has the better RPI, but NWC has the better SOS. NWC is 1 slot ahead in the ARC ratings, what this could come down to is who makes it further in the GPAC Tournament.
Win%: .679 RPI: 38 SOS: 51 ARC: 6th NET EFF: 60th
The GPAC is going to be another interesting conversation for the selection committee. The league as a whole, has very few great out of conference wins and several bad out of conference losses. It’s usually a powerhouse of a league. Northwestern currently tied for 5th place in the GPAC Standings. The game against Dordt on Wednesday, will be a big one, as the winner will have the upper hand to secure a possible at-large spot. Loser may need a deep run in the GPAC Tournament to get in. Both are teetering the line between in and out of the National Tournament.
Already Clinched: William Penn, Oklahoma Wesleyan
Others: Bethel (KS), Southwestern (KS), Evangel
6 Auto-Bids: AMC (1), Heart (3), KCAC (2)
Should Be In
Win%: .679 RPI: 46 SOS: 51 ARC: 8th NET EFF: 42nd
Injuries and consistent play have plagued Central Methodist all season long. When they are healthy and playing well, they are a Top 25 team, but unfortunately for them, they haven’t always looked the part. They did hand No. 1 William Penn their only loss on the season, so that should help them get “IN” as well. Although it is interesting that the ARC rater has them in 8th place in the ARC. We know that the Heart of America isn’t the traditional power it once was, but if you do a break down of the RPI/SOS ratings of the teams ahead of CMU not, named William Penn or Oklahoma Wesleyan, then you have to guess that in this ARC, that the RPI/SOS doesn’t carry as much weight as a teams win%.
3. Bethel (KS) RPI: 25 – SOS: 99 – 4. Southwestern (KS) RPI: 56 SOS: 205 – 5. Evangel RPI: 27 – SOS 51 6. MoBap RPI: 71 SOS: 218 – 7. Ottawa (KS) RPI: 64 SOS: 148. 8. CMU RPI: 46 SOS: 51
Again, not trying to question ARC raters, they have a hard job. It’s just interesting to see where raters differ from one another and which ones value RPI and SOS ratings compared to win%.
Win%: .814 RPI: 74 SOS: 219 ARC: 6th NET EFF: 29th
Missouri Baptist had their 14-game win streak snapped on Saturday as they are now 14-1 in the AMC. Unfortunately for them, they are kind of teetering the Should be In/Got Work To Do categories. Are they one of the best 64 teams in the NAIA? Absolutely! Unfortunately though the Top 64 teams in the NAIA won’t make the NAIA National Championships. The truth about it is though, that if anyone besides the Spartans wins the AMC Tournament, someone on that NAIA Bubble is getting bumped from the NAIA Tournament and MBU will be a little nervous during the NAIA Selection Show. The good news for the Spartans is that as the Regular Season AMC Champions, they are going to play every round of the AMC Tournament at home. A place they are 10-1 at with that loss coming way back on October 29th in a blowout loss to No. 5 Talladega.
Has Work To Do
Win%: .556 RPI: 58 SOS: 17 ARC: 10th NET EFF: 56th
The Heart is going to get 3 teams in for sure. If MidAmerica Nazarene can’t over take Central Methodist, then it will be interesting to see what happens with them as the fourth team in the Heart. We have seen, in the past, legendary coaches, who are in their final season, getting the nod into the tournament as a bubble team. Legendary Head Coach, Rocky Lamar, is retiring at seasons end. If MNU can stay in the conversation, we won’t be surprised to see them get a courtesy nod into the National Tournament. The main downside for them is their overall record. However they do have a better RPI and SOS than many other bubble teams! They could use a couple more wins though to help improve that win%.
Win%: .690 RPI: 64 SOS: 148 ARC: 7th NET EFF: 49th
Ottawa (KS) is going to hold onto that 4-seed in the KCAC Tournament. They had won 10 straight before losing by 20 to No. 6 OKWU. This is a veteran an talented group though, that has the talent to win games in the National Tournament. They have one regular season game left, against Southwestern, then the KCAC Tournament. The Braves could help themselves with a couple more wins to end the season!
6 Auto-Bids: CAC (2), RRAC (2), Sooner (2)
Should Be In
Win%: .893 RPI: 66 SOS: 230 ARP: 6th NET EFF: 6th
The truth of the matter is that the Falcons should be in the NAIA National Tournament if they were happen to lose before the CAC Tournament Title Game. Florida College moved to 6th in their ARC and while it is our opinion, we think they would finish inside the Top 4 of the RRAC, that isn’t to hate on the RRAC, but more so to talk up this Florida College squad who we feel are better than what is on paper. They may not have the quality wins as some others, but they don’t have any bad losses either. Out of their three losses on the year; all three will be in the National Tournament – rv UT Southern by 5, No. 13 ONU by 4, and No. 18 Southeastern (FL) by 16.
Win%: .708 RPI: 20 SOS: 16 ARC: 2nd NET EFF: 37th
LSU-Shreveport is going to be in as well. We mostly have them as a non lock, because they are just 11-7 against NAIA competition. However, the RRAC auto-bids are the winner of the Tournament and then the next highest team within the ARC. Head Coach, Kyle Blankenship as the ARC rater, and he has them slotted 2nd in the ARC, ahead of SAGU now, so even if they don’t win the RRAC Tourney, there is no way their own coach is going to bump another RRAC team ahead of them. With that, Shreveport does currently have the best RRAC record (amongst teams eligible for postseason). The Pilots did play a super tough early non-conference schedule too and were able to get a Top 25 win over the previously mentioned SAGU team.
Has Work To Do
Win%: .714 RPI: 50 SOS: 124 ARP: 7th NET EFF: 22nd
Texas A&M Texarkana are most likely teetering the Should Be In/Has Work To Do line, but they have lost 2 of their last 3 games, both at home, with 1 of those being a bad loss. The Eagles could use a little more help to make to get on the “IN” side of the bubble. They do have a Top 25 win over USAO and did knock off LSU Shreveport. Their RPI and SOS numbers aren’t great, so hopefully, for them, that Top 25 NETEFF can hold some weight for them!
Win%: .667 RPI: 83 SOS: 164 ARP: 9th NET EFF: 68th
Texas Wesleyan can crawl into 3rd place in the SAC with a win against OCU this week. A traditional powerhouse of a league, you expect them to get a 3rd team in, but the teams behind USAO and SAGU have some work to do. Texas Wesleyan lost to OCU once already, so they can’t lose the game on Thursday. These SAC teams are going to be an interesting topic of conversation for the selection committee. A lot of teams with similar resumes.
Win%: .519 RPI: 83 SOS: 34 ARP: 9th NET EFF: 131st
Oklahoma City had a rough start to the season. It was a combination of a tough schedule and a new coaching staff and players getting to know one another. They have also had some Covid forfeits and even played games with baseball players to fill gaps, just to be able to play games. The Stars have worked themselves into 3rd place in a very good Sooner Athletic Conference. Their overall record of 14-13 hurts them a bit. They have a Top 25 win vs SAGU, and have 9 of their 14 wins this semester. If they can hang onto a Top 3 spot in the SAC and win a game in the SAC Tourney, it may be enough to push the Stars to the “IN” line.
Win%: .800 RPI: 38 SOS: 167 ARP: 9th NET EFF: 83rd
Great tradition at LSU Alexandria and what they have done in 8 years since becoming a program has been unbelievable! We know that they have had a crazy schedule with make up games and other postponements, but this is a team that is just 3-3 over the past 6 games, including two losses at The Fort, a place where they have won nearly 90% of their games the past 8 seasons. They are a true bubble team right now that can help themselves out immensely by beating LSU-S to end the season and making a run in the RRAC Tournament. Coach Larry Cordero is one of the best coaches in the NAIA, but as we stand right now, without them getting an auto-bid, the SOS and NETEFF should have the Generals a little nervous come selection show time.
Loyola, Talladega, Faulkner, Union, Stillman
6 Auto-Bids: AAC (2), GCAC (1), SSAC (2), The Sun (1)
Should Be In
Win%: .778 RPI: 31 SOS: 130 ARP: 9th NET EFF: 18th
Southeastern is coming off a big win over Florida Memorial to stay in 1st place in The Sun Conf. A win on Thursday, would be big for the Fire, as The Sun Regular Season Champion gets to host the leagues Final Four. You expect the Fire to be in even if they don’t win The Sun Tournament, but it’s not quite a lock yet.
Has Work To Do
Win%: .630 RPI: 60 SOS: 73 ARP: 9th NET EFF: 76th
Warner is another Sun Conference team that is on the bubble right now. It will be interesting to see how the committee treats The Sun Conference. This is a league who won some games in the Tournament last season, so you expect them to get a 2nd team in, but Warner can do themselves a favor by beating Ave Maria this week and then making a deep run into The Sun Tournament Championship game.