Not only is Missouri Western in the toughest Division II conference in the country, it also in the toughest region when it comes to post season play.
Football fans remember the national title game between Alabama and LSU. Some hated it and some loved it. The ones that loved it believed they were the best two college teams in the country. The ones that hated it felt like the BCS was biased towards the South Eastern Conference. The SEC was widely known, and still known, as the best football conference in the nation.
Division II is similar, but not the same. It is similar in that, the MIAA is just like the SEC. There are multiple teams in the MIAA that will not make it a game further than the regular season, but could be a conference contender if they were in almost any other conference. Division I has bowl games that determine how a team finishes the season. Division II has a playoff system, and only a certain number of teams can make it in.
The playoffs are separated by regions. There are four regions with 10 teams in each one. Depending on what conference the school is in, determines what region the team is in. The MIAA is the toughest region by far, Super Region 3.
Nine of the 10 teams in Super Region 3 are ranked in the top 25. The worst team in the region is Pittsburg State at 6-2 (last year’s champion). There are only 12 schools ranked in the top 25 in all three other regions combined.
Super Region 3 is a league above the others, while Super Region 2 is a league below.
Super Region 2 has a combined total of 23 losses, which is more than twice the total of Super Region 3. Super Region 2 has just one ranked team. The worst team in Super Region 3 would be competing for the top spot if they were in Super Region 2. That’s fair, right?
As of now, Western, Northwest Missouri State, Emporia and Pittsburg State are the teams who will be representing the MIAA. Washburn is sitting right behind them, waiting for the opportunity to take someone’s spot. Western and Washburn will play this weekend. With a win, the Griffons would probably secure a sport in the playoffs, no matter the outcome of their last game of the season against Northwest; but things could get ugly quick in the MIAA.
Say Western loses to Washburn this weekend and beats Northwest next weekend. Also say that Washburn goes on to beat Emporia next weekend. Pittsburg has two fairly easy games left and will likely win them both.
The MIAA would have five teams tied for first if this happened, all tied with two losses. What would that playoff bracket look like?
It’s embarrassing to know that after so many years, this is the best system that Division II has come up with.
It should be less like the NFL playoffs, and more like the NCAA March Madness bracket. I mean there are already 40 teams in it, so it statistically would seem to hold up better anyway. In the NCAA basketball tournament, teams aren’t confined to the same region just because they are in the same conference. They are broken up so the chance of two teams from the same conference playing for the championship is always possible.
In reality, the best teams are brawling it out in the same region, while other regions are practically full of warm-up games for whoever the top team is. There is no doubt that whoever comes out of Super Region 3 will have had the toughest road.
Depending on how you look at it, the last team standing in Super Region 3 will be either exhausted and beaten up or confident and fired up for having beaten some of the best teams in the country.