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Update time. A bid was award in the Southland Conference Thursday night. Also been going over the teams, constantly, since about Thursday of last week. Nicholls won a thriller, 28-27 over Southeastern Louisiana. However, after originally thinking that the loser was probably out, I kept going back to Southeastern Louisiana. A record of 7-4 is not overly flashy, in fact, it has a lot of teams on the bubble. However, theirs is a different situation. They had a game earlier in the season canceled because of a hurricane/tropical storm against Bethune-Cookman. This is a game computer projections say they would have won 93% of the time. And if they had an eighth Division I/FCS win, they would have likely been figured as a team “IN” the field. It doesn’t seem right to knock them for Mother Nature. They didn’t schedule eleven games, they scheduled twelve. Considering that information, we’re going to move them into the field, despite the close loss.

So how many bids are locked up right now? Counting the automatic bids already accounted for, nineteen(19). That’s seventeen teams plus two who’ll take remaining automatic bids. So here’s where we’ll start with who I see as the current nationally seeded teams coming into the final weekend of the season.

This is something I didn’t address on Monday, the National seeds. Who’s safe here? Who could be moved out? The top five listed here should be safe, even if they happened to lose their final game. North Dakota State is locked into a #1 or #2. James Madison would drop no further than #3 with a loss in combination with a Montana win. The three Big Sky teams (MontanaWeber StateSacramento State) listed #3, #4 and #5, will all stay put in those spots barring losses or Montana’s ascension to #2 with a James Madison loss. All three of those teams have only lost one FCS game this year, it would take another for them to fall, but would not fall below #7. Illinois State and South Dakota State are in danger of falling out with a loss. Any rise from these two would be at the cost of a Big Sky team losing.

The #8 seed, currently held by Villanova, is the trickiest. This is a change from Monday, where Wofford was holding this spot. Still, the line between Villanova, Montana StateWofford and Northern Iowa is razor thin. Originally, I would have put Central Arkansas in this group, but I just can’t see the Selection Committee putting a non-champion from a non-FCS Power conference on the seed line. That’s the thing hurting Central Connecticut State and Monmouth also.

A win by Montana State over Montana to end the year and they jump to the front of the line, no questions asked, Villanova ends up in the First Round. Seems crazy to think four Big Sky teams could all have seeds, but Montana State would be more deserving, with wins over Montana and Southeast Missouri State to Villanova’s best wins over Towson and Maine. On top of that, Montana State would have a Strength of Schedule about 20 spots better. Losses by either or those two, Illinois State or South Dakota State would open the door for Northern Iowa and Wofford. Wofford has a conference championship, but Northern Iowa has the better schedule and best win between those two.

  • #1 *North Dakota State, 11-0 (Missouri Valley)
  • #2 *James Madison,  10-1 (Colonial)
  • #3 Montana, 9-2 (Big Sky)
  • #4 Weber State, 8-3 (Big Sky)
  • #5 Sacramento State, 8-3 (Big Sky)
  • #6 Illinois State, 8-3 (Missouri Valley)
  • #7 South Dakota State, 8-3 (Missouri Valley)
  • #8 *Villanova, 8-3 (Colonial)

 

These other teams, currently sit as unseeded, but should also be safe win or lose this weekend…

  • Montana State, 8-3 (Big Sky)
  • Central Arkansas, 8-3 (Southland)
  • Austin Peay, 8-3 (Ohio Valley)
  • Southeastern Louisana, 7-4 (Southland)
  • *Monmouth, 9-2 (Big South)
  • *Central Connecticut State, 10-1 (Northeast)
  • *San Diego, 8-2 (Pioneer)
  • *Nicholls, 8-4 (Southland)
  • *Wofford, 7-3 (Southern)
  • ***Ohio Valley Champion
  • ***Patriot Champion

* Clinched automatic berth

AUTOMATIC NOTES, for the four conferences with undecided champions…

  • BIG SKY: One of the three Big Sky teams above in the seeded area, SHOULD take the automatic bid. Obviously, the other two are safe. The Big Sky could get very interesting though. If all three teams happened to lose this weekend, there would be a minimum four-way tie for first place. A fifth team could also be involved if Eastern Washington were to beat Portland State. Any tiebreaker involving four or more teams is likely going to the conference’s Sagarin ranking tiebreaker, in which case Montana probably gets the bid. In the event that only two of the top three ties, meaning one loses this weekend, each holds an advantage over one of the other two; Weber State over Sacramento State, Sacramento State over Montana, Montana over Weber State. Crikey!
  • OHIO VALLEY: Austin Peay will win the conference’s automatic bid by winning against Eastern Illinois this week. If Austin Peay would lose, Southeast Missouri State would get the bid, provided they beat Murray State. If both teams lose, the bid goes to Austin Peay since they won the head-to-head match-up earlier this season. Tennessee-Martin would actually be involved in the tiebreaker if both Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State lost, but both of those teams beat Tennessee-Martin earlier, which eliminates them from the equation.
  • PATRIOT: At first glance, the Patriot appears to be a mess of potential tiebreakers, involving up to four different teams. However, it’s really pretty simple. If Holy Cross beats Georgetown, they win the Patriot outright. If they lose, the Lehigh/Lafayette winner will be involved in the tiebreaker. If Lehigh wins, Holy Cross wins all tiebreakers. If Lafayette wins in combination with a Holy Cross loss, Lafayette wins the tiebreaker. Bucknell can also be involved, if they beat Fordham. However, Bucknell loses all tiebreakers. 

With these nineteen out of play, there are five bids left to be accounted for. I’m going to rank these final teams in my perceived order for making the field, provided they win this weekend. This doesn’t necessarily matter to where they slot in the overall field or whether a team could end up hosting or even a potential seed. It could be as simple as a loss this week could hurt so much said team could fall completely out of consideration.

If four or less teams win out of this group, theoretically, you could come back to the top and get the final couple of bids. The danger for these teams though, is coming back to the top would actually jumble them in with a few potentials not even on the radar. Which is something I’m sure the Selection Committee would not enjoy either.

These teams will be listed with their current record, conference and conference record, current power rankings from Massey, Ashburn, CSM and their projected final Strength of Schedule (Massey). Lastly, it will show the record of their last four games and final opponent.

 

Southern Illinois, 7-4 (Missouri Valley, 5-2) MAS: 15, ASH: 21, CSM: 25, SoS: 19

  • Last Four: 4-0
  • Final Opponent: vs. North Dakota State

Southeast Missouri State, 8-3 (Ohio Valley, 6-1) MAS: 23, ASH: 20, CSM: 22, SoS: 53

  • Last Four: 4-0
  • Final Opponent: vs. Murray State

Tennessee-Martin, 7-4 (Ohio Valley, 6-2) MAS: 36, ASH: 26, CSM: 17, SoS: 37

  • Last Four: 2-2
  • Final Opponent: @ Kentucky(FBS)

Northern Iowa, 7-4 (Missouri Valley, 5-2) MAS: 7, ASH: 8, CSM: 16, SoS: 6

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Western Illinois

Albany, 7-4 (Colonial, 5-2) MAS: 19, ASH: 23, CSM: 21, SoS: 33

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: @ Stony Brook

Towson, 7-4 (Colonial, 4-3) MAS: 12, ASH: 12, CSM: 6, SoS: 16

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Elon

Kennesaw State, 9-2 (Big South, 4-1) MAS: 31, ASH: 27, CSM: 23, SoS: 106

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Gardner-Webb

Maine, 6-5 (Colonial, 4-3) MAS: 18, ASH: 30, CSM: 29, SoS: 23

  • Last Four: 4-0
  • Final Opponent: @ New Hampshire

North Dakota, 6-4 (FCS Independent) MAS: 20, ASH: 19, CSM: 30, SoS: 21

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Southern Utah

 Furman, 7-4 (Southern, 6-2) MAS: 26, ASH: 25, CSM: 10, SoS: 58

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Point(NAIA)

 The Citadel, 6-5 (Southern, 4-3) MAS: 43, ASH: 45, CSM: 31, SoS: 52

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Wofford

  South Carolina State, 7-3 (Mid-Eastern) MAS: 54, ASH: 42, CSM: 58, SoS: 87

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: @ Norfolk State

The list for the final six bids is pretty extensive. The higher you are on this list, the likelier you are to find an angel in the Committee room next Sunday, should you lose this weekend. Southern Illinois is a very interesting case. Right now they have a 6-3 record against the FCS, but also have a win and a loss against the FBS. The win counts extra and the loss vanishes. A win over North Dakota State makes them a slam dunk, will a loss hurt that much? The computer numbers are very good. Southeast Missouri State, has very good computer numbers besides strength of schedule, but have wins over both Southern Illinois and Tennessee-Martin. Even with a loss, they might find their way into the field. Speaking of Tennessee-Martin, they are 7-3 vs. FCS, but losses to the two above here pushes them down the ladder. However, they have a game with FBS Kentucky, that would give them a golden ticket into the playoffs. Northern Iowa, is a bit hard to figure. They’ve beaten everyone they were supposed to and lost to everyone they were supposed to. Except Illinois State, who they beat handily. They have the best computer numbers on the list. If not for a game with 1-10 Western Illinois, they’d probably be in the field already. This is the potential loss that could completely destroy their resume. A win and they might be in a group of four or five teams looking for the last national seed. Albany and Towson both have very similar resumes. Towson’s may be a smidgen better, but Albany won their head-to-head match-up. Kennesaw State is the only team on this list with just one loss. Being just 7-1 vs. the FCS is a bad place to be. The computer numbers are just okay, but the strength of schedule is terrible. Winning that eighth FCS game is imperative. A loss with these numbers will not get it done. Maine could end up on this list having won their last five games. 7-5 is not a sparkling record, but two of those losses were to FBS teams. Their best win is Albany. Is that enough? North Dakota probably wishes they could have scheduled, and won, a twelfth game this year. Their 6-4 is 6-4, all FCS games. They 4-3 playing a lame duck Big Sky schedule and a loss to North Dakota State. They do have two good wins; Sam Houston State and Montana State. Furman has finished their part of the schedule that matters, 7-2 against the FCS. Their overall 7-4 record holds no signature wins and their “Point”less game this week with an NAIA school means nothing. The Citadel will make the Committee pull their hair out. Only 5-5 against the FCS, but hold a huge calling card win over Power Five FBS Georgia Tech. Another win over Furman and a chance to beat Wofford this weekend shows they can hang with the best. Unfortunately, they lost to teams nowhere near the playoffs either. And they’ve also lost to Towson, who’s above them here. South Carolina State has to win this week to have any consideration for a rare MEAC at-large bid. Doing so is possible, but in combination with a loss by North Carolina A&T, they would be going to the Celebrations Bowl instead.