Beef’s Final 2019 FCS Bracketology

Hot Beef Take
Bracketology Breakdown
 
Last Four In: Southeastern Louisiana, Albany, North Dakota, Southern Illinois
First Four Out: Furman, Towson, Tennessee-Martin, South Carolina State
When it comes down to the final playoff field projection, this year was no different than any of the previous others – a lot of hair splitting. Different angles, lots of data, multiple ways to interpret it all. It did seem the bubble was smaller at the end this time around. That didn’t make the final call any easier.
First, we’ll focus on the eight teams list above; the final four in and first four out. I looked more and more at the teams in the field.
Southeastern Louisiana had a game canceled earlier in the season against Bethune-Cookman. A game that computer projections say they would have won 93% of the time. Didn’t seem right to penalize them for Mother Nature. They’re in.
North Dakota only played an eleven game schedule. All of their games were FCS games, which the Selection Committee likes. 7-4 with wins over Sam Houston State and Montana State is nice. Most of these teams with seven wins didn’t have multiple wins over teams with winning records.
Albany sits all alone in second place in the Colonial Athletic Association. 8-4 from a second place power conference team? A no brainer.
Southern Illinois was like no other in consideration. A fifth place team in their own conference. But the Missouri Valley Football Conference is no typical conference. SIU also had one of three FBS wins in 2019, a 45-20 drubbing of Massachusetts. They also had a win over fellow bubble team, Tennessee-Martin.
Furman was the hardest and final cut. The Committee made public earlier this week their liking of teams playing more Division I games, in specific, FCS games. Furman’s final game against NAIA Point, did nothing for their resume. The best wins were Chattanooga and Charleston Southern, certainly not as good as the wins by Southern Illinois.
Towson was a tough cut also. How can a fourth team not make the field from one of the FCS power conferences? It happened to the MVFC in 2018. Finishing tied for fifth in the conference and a loss to sub-.500 Elon was the final straw.
Tennessee-Martin had three wins over teams with 6-6 records, which are the kinds of teams you need to beat to push them down and yourself up, but the loss to Southern Illinois is their death knell.
South Carolina State had an 8-3 record. A win against Wofford is very strong. But the Committee announced they prefer wins against teams from automatic qualifying conferences. And SCSU only had that one.
Okay. How about the seeds?
North Dakota State was the only undefeated team in FCS. Pretty cut and dry here, #1. James Madison had one loss, to a FBS team. Perfect against the FCS, but not overall. Still #2 has home field until the end. Weber State and Sacramento State only lost one game against FCS competition. Weber State won the head-to-head, they get the #3, Sacramento State the #4. Montana State gets the #5 with a 9-2 record versus FCS and a huge win over rival Montana. Montana had the same record as their rival, but lost that head-to-head. The #7 goes to Northern Iowa, who sits alone in second place in the MVFC. It’s possible they could be the last seed, but this placement helps spread the MVFC teams out across the bracket. #8 is there for Wofford. They own the Southern Conference automatic and have won their final eight FCS games. Early losses to South Carolina State and Samford are the only bad marks. Those just missing the seed lines were Illinois StateSouth Dakota StateCentral Connecticut StateMonmouth and Central Arkansas.
Bids By Conference
 
Big Sky (4): *Weber State, Sacramento State, Montana State, Montana
 
Big South (2): *Monmouth, Kennesaw State
 
Colonial (3): *James Madison, Villanova, Albany
FCS Independent (1): North Dakota
 
Missouri Valley (5): *North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Illinois State, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois
 
Northeast (1): *Central Connecticut State
 
Ohio Valley (2): *Austin Peay, Southeast Missouri State
 
Patriot (1): *Holy Cross
 
Pioneer (1): *San Diego
 
Southern (1): *Wofford
 
Southland (3): *Nicholls, Central Arkansas, Southeastern Louisiana
 
denotes automatic qualifier, clinched
Here’s a link to the Final Projected Bracket on College Sports Madness