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What we learned in the first round of the DII Football Championship

(This was run on NCAA.com, please see the full article HERE)

Welcome to the 2018 DII Football Championship. Or should we call it Upset City?

The first round of the tournament went just as expected. That is to say, it was completely unpredictable.

No. 7 Wingate started the day by taking down No. 2-seeded West Georgia, the No. 10 team in DII football. No 6 New Haven followed suit, taking down No. 3 West Chester in a Super Region One that saw all three games end in upset fashion. Two former national champions entered the day ranked as sixth seeds. Both — Northwest Missouri State and Texas A&M-Commerce — advanced in convincing fashion. All said, there were seven lower-seeded teams that punched their ticket to the second round.

MORE: Interactive bracket | Printable bracket | Buy 2018 championship tickets

That didn’t mean some of the top teams didn’t perform, however. Here’s what we learned in the first round of the DII Football Championship.

Northwest Missouri State is back in postseason form

Last year was an odd one for the Bearcats. They battled injury, actually had a losing streak (albeit two whole games) and were eliminated in the first round in a heartbreaking 21-18 loss to Ashland. The 2018 Northwest Missouri State team put together a complete effort in the first round and look like that scary team that ran to back-to-back undefeated seasons.

Northwest Football@NWBearcatFB

TOUCHDOWN BEARCATS! Northwest’s Isaiah Strayhorn scores his second rushing touchdown of the day – this one from three yards out – and gives the Bearcats a 35-17 lead at Grand Valley State. 4:06 left in the 4th qtr. Northwest has rushed for 313 yards against the Lakers

Freshman quarterback Braden Wright has garnered most of the talk this season with an MIAA Freshman of the Year campaign, but it was his running game that picked it up today. Isaiah Strayhorn averaged 15.5 yards per carry in amassing 171 yards and two touchdowns while Josh Caldwell added 147 yards and two touchdowns as well. That notorious Rich Wright defense did its thing, limiting a strong Grand Valley State offense to just 239 yards and 17 points. Austen Eskew powered the pass rush with three sacks while Jake Richards added nine tackles and two interceptions. The Bearcats played a well-balanced game and next week’s showdown with No. 2 Ferris State may just be the game to watch.

MORE: We picked our bracket and sleepers for the DII Football Championship

Super Chargers fueled by great quarterback play

There are two Chargers — New Haven and Hillsdale — in the DII Football Championship. Both were underdogs, both are in the second round. Both were fueled by the tremendous play of their quarterbacks.

Heading into the week, NCAA.com called Hillsdale the Super Region One sleeper, mainly because, “the Chance Stewart to Trey Brock connection is as fun as any to watch in DII, giving them a dynamic duo that may surprise a few people.” The two delivered in the first round, as Stewart threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns, with 170 of those yards and two of those touchdowns going to Brock. Hillsdale now has a date with No. 1-seeded Notre Dame (OH) in the second round, and its pass attack should be a fun counter to the Jaleel McLaughlin-led rush-heavy Falcons offense.

New Haven Football@NewHavenNation

TOUCHDOWN Ju’an Williams to tie the game!! 🏈⚡️

New Haven: 28
West Chester: 28

New Haven rolled through its DII slate perfect until dropping a thrilling 17-13 loss in the season finale to LIU Post. The win cost them the Northeast-10 championship, but perhaps the end result lit a fire that makes them a dangerous threat this postseason. LIU Post was upset by Slippery Rock while the unranked Chargers, with an obvious chip on their shoulder, went blow-for-blow with No. 8 West Chester, winning 35-28 and moving on to a showdown against The Rock.

Both quarterbacks played well in the game, but it was New Haven’s Ajee Patterson who had the edge. The Chargers scored five touchdowns and Patterson had all of them. He threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns and though he only netted four yards on the ground, he added two one-yard rushing touchdowns. His West Chester counterpart A.J. Long had a fine day as well but fell one touchdown short.

MORE: A region-by-region look at the DII Football Championship

Slippery Rock’s Wes Hills can run

The Rock was one of two No. 7 seeds to advance. They went into Brookville, NY facing an LIU Post rush defense that was No. 10 in DII football. That didn’t seem to bother Slippery Rock running back Wes Hills one bit.

Rock Athletics

@Rock_Athletics

FB: Let’s talk about this guy for a second. Today, Jake Chapla set the SRU single-season record for made field goals (15) and took over sole possession of the all-time career record for made field goals (37). Oh yea… he’s only a junior.

Hills found a second gear five weeks ago and has been borderline unstoppable since minus a “rough” outing against West Chester in the PSAC Championship when he still ran for 92 yards. Hills posted three 200-yard games in a row to close out the regular season and he came close to another one Saturday. The senior running back ripped off 167 yards and a touchdown against a Pioneers defense that allowed just 93.7 yards per game this season. Next up is another NE10 foe in a New Haven team that allowed 169.5 yards per game and 13 touchdowns on the ground this season.

MORE: Watch the DII plays of the week for Week 11

Tarleton State is for real

In the most complete game of the first round, the Texans utterly dominated Azusa Pacific 58-0. Everyone came to play and put up some serious numbers in the process.

Running back Xavier Turner has exploded in the second half of the season, now posting seven-straight 100-yard games. Five of those games were better than 164 yards rushing, and Saturday was more of the same as Turner posted his third 200-yard performance of the season while scoring three touchdowns. Despite the ground control, quarterback Ben Holmes was in charge as well, responsible for three touchdowns of his own.

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Tarleton Athletics@TarletonSports

TARLETON PLAYOFF RECORD!

Xavier Turner is the first Texan in school history to rush for 200 yards in an NCAA playoff game! 206 yds, 3 TDs Texans lead 51-0 heading into 4Q

And how about that defense? The Texans posted their second straight 58-0 shutout and have now outscored their opponents 175-3 over the last three weeks. Up next is the defending national champion Texas A&M-Commerce, who the Texans beat on October 13, 47-21. But don’t think this will be an easy matchup.

Last season, the Lions entered the tournament the No. 5 seed and opened the postseason with three consecutive upsets, including taking down Super Region Four No. 1-seed Central Washington and the No. 1-ranked Minnesota State Mavericks. Head coach Colby Carthel whipped up some of that postseason magic in the first round, lighting up DII football’s third-ranked scoring defense with 33 points. That Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs defense came to play, scoring two touchdowns, but so did the Lions, holding the Bulldogs to just 188 total yards and scoring a couple of touchdowns itself.

Throw away the records and stats. This Lions vs. Texans matchup is a Lone Star Conference rivalry on DII football’s biggest stage. Be ready for a war.

Three surprises that shouldn’t be all that surprising

Bowie State defeated West Alabama in a shootout. Amir Hall still flies under-the-radar but shouldn’t any longer. The stud quarterback threw for 360 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 51 yards and two more touchdowns. Next up is No. 1 Valdosta State. If there is a quarterback in DII football that can hang with the high-octane Blazers’ offense, it’s Hall.

Colorado State-Pueblo’s defense held Colorado School of Mines to 37 yards rushing and 17 points. Both were the Orediggers lowest outputs of the season. Brandon Payer, Darius Williams, Kyle Rosenbrock, and company are the real deal, holding Isaac Harker under 300 yards passing for the first time since Oct. 6 and just the third time all season (twice were against the ThunderWolves). They stuffed Cameron Mayberry, the No. 5 rusher in DII football, to 1.55 yards per carry. It was sweet revenge as Mayberry scorched the ThunderWolves for 203 yards and three touchdowns earlier this season. They face No. 1-seeded Minnesota State next.

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CSU-Pueblo Football@CSUPFootball

TOUCHDOWN!!! Another BIG RUN by Marché Dennard, as he goes 40 yards on 3rd-and-2 to the end zone!! PAT blocked, Pack lead 30-10 with 12:04 left in the 4th.

Lenoir-Rhyne scored 43 points and rolled to 22-point victory. The Bears are also a bit under-the-radar, but this offense finds a way to score points in bunches without having any players atop the leaderboards. Lenoir-Rhyne has not scored less than 30 points all season. Next up is the surprise Wingate Bulldogs who convincingly upset No. 10 West Georgia. These two have faced once before this season, with the Bears coming out on top 31-24. Expect another close one in Round 2.

MORE: Programs with the most DII football titles | DII football news

DII Football Championship: Everything you need to know about Sunday’s selection show

(From NCAA.com, please see the full article HERE)

The DII Football Championship selection show is set for 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 11. The heavyweights of DII football anxiously await their postseason fates, hopeful to fill out one of the 28 spots in the tournament.

The 2017 DII Football Championship was a memorable one, as it pitted two first-timers against each other. Harlon Hill Award-winner Luis Perez led Texas A&M-Commerce to its first DII title over West Florida. The Argos’ remarkable run was unmatched by any other in history, as they made it all the way to the finals in just their second year as a football program.

Continue reading DII Football Championship: Everything you need to know about Sunday’s selection show

3 things to know about Ferris State’s historic start in the DII Women’s Soccer Championship

Ferris State defeated Ohio Valley 1-0 Saturday to advance to the third round of the DII Women’s Soccer Championship. The Bulldogs’ magical season continues as it picked up the program’s second NCAA tournament win in its history.

This is the Bulldogs’ first trip to the NCAA tournament, and they are certainly making the most of it. They won 2-0 on Thursday against McKendree and now advance to play the winner of No. 1 seed Grand Valley State and No. 4 Walsh. So, who are these history-making Bulldogs?

MORE: 2018 interactive bracket | Print the bracket | Selection show

Ferris State continues to pile up historic wins

The Bulldogs now sit at 17-3-3, rebounding from a 4-0 loss in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game to Grand Valley State to win their last two in a row. The 17 wins is most in program history, and they hope they aren’t done adding to that number just yet.

Ferris State Soccer@FSUWSO

The previous record was set in 2015, when Ferris State went 14-5-1, missing out on the NCAA tournament with a GLIAC semifinals one-goal loss to Ashland, 4-3. The Bulldogs set the program record with a 4-1 victory on Oct. 30 against Davenport in the GLIAC quarterfinals.

Wins No. 16 and 17 will also go down in the record books. Win No. 16 was the first NCAA tournament victory for the Bulldogs. Win No. 17 ensures that Ferris State remains perfect in postseason play, an impressive start to what it hopes is the start of a long November run.

Single-season goal records continue to fall

This Bulldogs offense has been the most dominant in school history. When Pia Nagel scored the first goal in the Bulldogs’ NCAA tournament history, it was the team’s 47th of the season. That’s one more than the record set by the 2006 and 2007 Ferris State teams. The Bulldogs now sit at 49 goals after Saturday’s second-round victory.

MORE: 6 teams to watch in the tournament

Nagel’s tally was also her seventh game-winning goal of the season. That adds to her single-season record, which she set with her fifth game-winner back on Oct. 10 against Tiffin. The freshman has had a sensational debut, scoring a team-best 10 goals on the season.

Postseason heroes

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Ferris State Soccer@FSUWSO
It’s been the Pia and Tia show on offense thus far for Ferris State this postseason. Nagel scored the first goal against McKendree, while defender Tia VanSuilichem iced it with her first goal of the postseason. Two days later, VanSuilichem played hero, scoring the lone goal in Ferris State’s 1-0 victory.

And how about the red-hot play of junior keeper Alison Chesterfield? She entered the postseason with just three shutouts on the season. Chesterfield has now posted consecutive shutouts and worked hard to get them making 14 combined saves. Her nine saves against Ohio Valley matched her season-high set in a Sept. 2 win over Bellarmine.

MORE: Complete DII women’s soccer championship history

DII football: No. 3 West Georgia, No. 5 Valdosta State highlight big final Saturday

(From NCAA.com, please see the full article HERE)

This is it. The final weekend of the DII football season. With several conference championships and a couple of top 25 showdowns on the bill, there is plenty of action to pay close attention to as Sunday’s bracket selection show awaits.

Let’s take a look at the games that stand out Saturday:

No. 3 West Georgia at No. 5 Valdosta State

Top 5 matchup. Check. Conference championship. Check. No press here at all. Just a whole bunch of playoff implications on the line.

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VSU Athletics@BlazerAthletics

Valdosta State and West Georgia are currently No. 1 and No. 2 in Super Region Two. While neither should have to concern themselves with making the postseason, there is a possible first-round bye at stake. The winner will be the lone remaining undefeated team standing in the conference, all but locking up that No. 1 seed.

The Blazers have the top scoring offense in DII football, putting up a scorching 52.8 points per game. The Wolves are no slouches, as quarterback Willie Candler and running back Devontae Jackson lead the No. 2 scoring offense in the Gulf South Conference at 35.9 points per game. The Wolves also have the top defense in the GSC, so this could be a classic chess match. Whichever coach makes the right move to counter may find his team the victor.

Whatever happens, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect finale to the GSC season. Two of the 10 undefeated teams in all of DII football get to go head-to-head with so much on the line.

MORE: A top 10 shakeup in the latest AFCA poll

No. 9 West Chester at Slippery Rock

This is for all the marbles in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. The PSAC Championship game will be nothing less than a thriller.

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Rock Athletics

@Rock_Athletics

Both of these teams can put up serious points. The PSAC title bout will feature two of the more exciting quarterbacks in DII football. The Golden Rams A.J. Long is second on the team in rushing (557 yards, six touchdowns), while throwing for 1,767 yards and 18 touchdowns. Roland Rivers III didn’t even claim the starting job for The Rock until Week 3, but he’s been sensational, a perfect 8-0 in his starts while throwing for 1,987 yards and 21 touchdowns. Rivers can run, as well, but he doesn’t have to. Wes Hills has been a beast, piling up 1,113 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He has three-straight 200 yard rushing games and appears to be heating up at the right time.

Slippery Rock is hanging tight at the No. 7 spot in Super Region One. A victory on the big stage will propel them into the postseason. A loss may end it on Saturday.

MORE: DII football Week 10 by the numbers

No. 20 Hillsdale at No. 12 Indianapolis

Hillsdale rose from the unranked just in time to capture the Great Midwest Athletic Conference title last week, taking down undefeated Tiffin in dominating fashion, 48-26. The Chargers challenge themselves by going out of conference to face a top 25 team in the closing week of the season.

Talk about postseason preparation.

UIndy is looking to return to the postseason after a first-round exit to Harding last season. Al McKellar and Toriano Clinton are a dangerous two-headed monster out of the backfield, combining for 1,590 yards and 20 touchdowns. Hillsdale’s quarterback Chance Stewart became the program’s all-time touchdown leader last weekend and hopes there is more in store. He’s already thrown for 2,740 yards and 23 touchdowns, so his first career 3.000-yard season is in his sight.

It’s not often you get a Week 11 top 25 matchup that pits two conference champions against each other. Enjoy this one if you can.

Chadron State at No. 15 Colorado School of Mines  🎥 WATCH LIVE

Both of these teams can put up points with anyone in the country. The Mines offense puts up a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-best 50.2 points per game, while Chadron State drops 39.1. Last week, the Orediggers fell from the undefeated, upset in the final seconds by Dixie State 52-45. Earlier this season, Chadron State laid down the upset, taking down then-No. 14 Colorado Mesa 38-34.

This is RMAC football.

Chadron State can leave its mark with a win in this one. Sitting at 7-2, they trail the Orediggers and Colorado State-Pueblo (both 8-1) by just one game. The Mines offense is led by some of the best in DII football: quarterback Isaac Harker is No. 3 with 3,201 yards passing, running back Cameron Mayberry is No. 6 with 1,377 yards on the ground, and wide receiver Brody Oliver is No. 8 with 1,067 yards receiving and tied for No. 1 with 19 touchdowns. It won’t be easy for the Eagles, but don’t count them out.

Running back Kevin Coy, Jr. should eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in this one and already has 14 touchdowns. Quarterback Dalton Holst has 20 passing touchdowns. This game should be good old fashioned, explosive RMAC football, and could well come down to whoever has the ball last. The Mines offense is hoping it’s them to keep their postseason hopes alive.

No. 4 Ouachita Baptist at Henderson State

The Reddies are 5-5 and not playing for anything. Anything but bragging rights that is.

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Ouachita Tiger Football@OuachitaFB

Welcome to the Battle of the Ravine. It’s one of the coolest rivalries in all of college football. It’s certainly the closest.

[It is] literally across the street. If the wind is right, you can hit a golf ball from the end zone of Henderson State’s Carpenter-Haygood Stadium to the end zone of Ouachita Baptist’s Cliff Harris Stadium with a driver and 3-iron. The Reddies golf coach has done it. It’s a five-minute walk for Henderson State’s players to that away game, with state police stopping traffic on two-lane U.S. 67, so they can cross. The rivalry drew 12,228 in 2014 in Henderson State’s stadium, which was 1,500 more than every man, woman, child and football fan in Arkadelphia, Ark.”

Last season, the Tigers snapped Henderson State’s record 31-game road win streak with a thrilling 49-42 victory. This year? The Tigers are a perfect 10-0 and No. 4 in the country. You better be sure that Henderson State is awaiting its chance to play spoiler and end Ouachita Baptist’s current win streak.

But wait, there’s more:

No. 13 LIU Post faces off against New Haven for the Northeast-10 title. Both teams are undefeated in DII football play and this clash of the NE10 titans could boost the winner to the top spot should Notre Dame (OH) see an upset in the final week.

No. 24 Tiffin battles a tough unranked Findlay team. Not only did the Dragons drop in the AFCA rankings after their loss to Hillsdale, but they also fell to No. 8 in Super Region One. Their postseason hopes hang on the final score of this one (you can watch on NCAA DII Twitter and Facebook).

MORE: Regional rankings | Programs with the most DII football titles

DII Men’s Soccer Championship: Keep an eye on these 5 sleeper teams

(From NCAA.com, please see the full article HERE)

The 38-team field is set. Charleston (W.V.) is back in the mix to defend its DII Men’s Soccer Championship national title, while three of last year’s semifinalists also return to the postseason. The road to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is littered with plenty of familiar faces.

But what about those that may be flying under the radar? Here are five sleeper teams to watch heading into the tournament (in no particular order).

MORE: Interactive bracket Programs with most DII men’s soccer titles

Ashland

The Eagles are heading into the NCAA tournament playing their best soccer of the year. Though their record is just 8-9-3, they have rebounded big time since a 2-8-1 start to the season. Ashland hasn’t lost a conference match in over a month, going 6-0-2 over that span. The Eagles punched what seemed to be an unimaginable ticket on Sunday, winning their first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title since 2010.

Ashland University Eagles@goashlandeagles
This is such an intriguing story. The Eagles are three years removed from not even having a program for three years. Now, they are back in the postseason with the GLIAC’s leading scorer — Justin Libertowski — and the GLIAC Goalkeeper of the Year Dimitrios Karousos, who made three saves in a shutout of Northwood for the GLIAC title. Ashland faces a familiar foe in Saginaw Valley State in the first round, a team it lost to during its cold streak and tied down the home stretch. It won’t be an easy task, but Ashland’s strong finish and momentum certainly have them on the radar. 

Post

Another group of Eagles making their long-awaited return to the postseason hail from Waterbury, Connecticut. Post returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013, sweeping its way through the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference tournament and upending top-seeded Wilmington 2-0 for the automatic bid.

GoPostEagles@GoPostEagles
The Eagles are led by Sergio Diaz. Diaz quietly had one of the best seasons in DII soccer, earning him CACC Player of the Year honors. Versatile and quick, Diaz finished tied for second in the conference in goals scored with 13 and led the CACC with 18 assists, second-most in DII. Including the tournament, Post closed the season winning eight of its last nine games, with Diaz scoring seven goals and assisting on 11 more during that span. It’s not always the best team that wins a tournament, but sometimes it’s the hottest. Diaz and his Eagles are trending in the right direction.

MORE: The 7 most prolific scorers in DII soccer

Fresno Pacific

The Sunbirds return to the postseason for the first time since 2015. That was when Anthony Velarde, Joao Ravasio, and Eric Sanchez were freshmen. Now the senior offensive leaders of Fresno Pacific look to keep their storied careers going just a little longer with a deep run into the NCAA tournament.

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FPU Soccer@FPUsoccer

Velarde is having a career year. His 20 assists top DII men’s soccer and his 14 goals are best on the team. Entering this season off a redshirted 2017, Ravasio had a total of four goals and six assists in his two years with the Sunbirds. He has absolutely exploded onto the scene, scoring seven goals with 11 assists. Throw in Sanchez’s and Jose Vargas’ five goals each, and Fresno Pacific put together the highest scoring team in the PacWest and the second-highest scoring team in DII.

The Sunbirds were 1-1 this season against ranked opponents. That lone win came against Cal Poly Pomona, their first-round opponent. Amid a five-game winning streak and with plenty of firepower, expect Fresno Pacific to come out strong and make an opening round statement against a very solid Broncos eleven.

Spring Hill

Beware of the Badgers. You’ve officially been warned. Spring Hill’s remarkable turnaround was completed Sunday with its first-ever Gulf South Conference championship.

SHC Men’s Soccer@SHCMensSoccer
The Badgers joined the GSC in 2014 and won a combined 10 games in their first three seasons. They turned it around last season, going 12-3 and are now heading to their first NCAA postseason behind an almost perfect 17-1 record. Spring Hill put itself to the test early, beating nationally ranked Tampa in Week 2 and rolled on, closing the season on a 14-game winning streak. Alex Lipinski (18 goals, five assists) and Tillman Schober (four goals, 15 assists) lead the way. While the lack of postseason experience would normally hurt a team, the Badgers are on absolute fire right now. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see them keep that winning streak going a bit longer.

Tiffin

Yes, it is odd to call a No. 1 seed a sleeper. But this is the highest the Dragons have ever been seeded in NCAA tournament play, and it was also their first year in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Tiffin wasted little time, blanking last year’s No. 1 seed Ohio Valley in the G-MAC Championship, earning the automatic bid to the DII Men’s Soccer Championship.

Tiffin Men’s Soccer@TuMensSoccer

The Dragons are led by G-MAC Defensive Player of the Year Kangni Gabianou, who even contributed two goals this year, one of which was a game-winner. Ramiesh McKnight, Abdoul Magid sy, and Malik Suleman power the offense, combining for 25 goals on the season. Their 15-win season and conference championship earned them a first-round bye where the Dragons await the winner of Ohio Valley and Maryville. It’s never easy to defeat a team three times in one season, so should they face the Fighting Scots in the second round, it becomes one of the premier games to watch.

MORE: Regional rankings | United Soccer Coaches poll

DII volleyball: Here are 5 teams ready to make a run in the tournament

(From NCAA.com, please check out the full article HERE)

The DII Women’s volleyball championship is quickly approaching and Concordia-St. Paul is hoping to get the chance to win its third straight title and tenth in the past 12 years.

The season has been a wild one, however, and the No. 1 team hasn’t been safe. Five different teams have reached a No. 1 spot that has changed eight times in the 12 polls this season. This seems like the year the title is up for grabs, with no clear-cut favorite.

We know Concordia-St. Paul has a tough gauntlet in its own Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, and then an even more unrelenting Central Region that pumps MIAA powers Washburn and Nebraska-Kearney into the mix. Minnesota Duluth, Northern State, and UNK all have shared time in the No. 1 spot with the Golden Bears to put just how difficult that Region is into perspective. Any school that survives that mini-tournament is considered a favorite. But let’s take a look at five teams outside the Central Region that could push for the national championship in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Tampa

Tampa Spartans

@tampaspartans

MORE: Programs with the most DII volleyball titles

Tampa plays in a tough volleyball conference. The Sunshine State Conference is home to defending runners-up Florida Southern as well as top-25 regulars Palm Beach Atlantic. Led by a duo of sophomores — Katie McKiel (403 kills) and Sorrel Houghton (384 kills) —the Spartans test themselves every time out and have a good record to show for it, going 11-3 against programs currently in the regional rankings. Tampa has two games left, both against regionally ranked opponents, and can make a real statement heading into the bracket selection.

Gannon

Last season the Golden Knights went 32-7 in making their first national semifinals in program history. Gannon lost some big pieces from that team, but the returners have gelled and perhaps are in a better position heading into the 2018 tournament.

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Gannon Athletics@GUKnights
Gannon’s lone loss came way back in September in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference opener to East Stroudsburg. Since then, the Golden Knights have won 18 straight and avenged that loss by knocking East Stroudsburg out of the PSAC tournament. California (Pa.) is up next in the PSAC semis, but win or lose, Gannon should make the postseason.

Two freshmen —Lauren Sampson and Ashley McClung — pace the No. 1 team in the East Region, but Ally Smith and Ashley Kerestes have performed well as the key returners from last season’s squad. Should the Golden Knights lock down the PSAC championship and finish their season 31-1, they will have to be considered favorites to reach Pittsburgh for the DII Festival.

Cal State San Bernardino

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NCAA Division II

@NCAADII

They have certainly battled. Cal State San Bernardino is 8-2 against teams in the latest regional rankings. Seven of those eight wins were straight-set sweeps, with the Coyotes winning 24-of-25 sets against their stiffest competition. They now head to the California Collegiate Athletic Association as the No. 1 seed. The bulk of last year’s squad — including kills leaders Alexis Cardoza and Hailey Jackson and assists leader Jayann DeHoog — are all back. They have the experience and skills to make a deep run this November.

Western Washington

One of those two losses Cal State San Bernardino suffered came at the hands of Western Washington. The Vikings are on a tear, winners of 23 matches in a row. In fact, they have only lost one set since September.

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WWU Athletics@WWUAthletics

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions are led by who may go down as the program’s greatest player. Abby Phelps is not just the Vikings all-time leader in points, but the GNAC’s, with 1,725.5 total points in her career. She’s also tops in Western Washington history in kills and needs just three to become the GNAC record holder. Phelps has delivered in four years in Bellingham, all that’s left is a national championship trophy.

Tarleton State

The TexAnns finished 15-14 in 2013. Since then, Tarleton State has put up four straight seasons with 24 or more wins, each one earning it a spot in the NCAA postseason. The TexAnns seemingly get better and better every year, and with a wild South Central Region this year, this may be their chance to get to the quarterfinals and make some noise.

Tarleton State’s game is built on balance. Adriana Darthuy leads the team in kills with 306, but three other players have recorded more than 200. Blanca Izquierdo is the TexAnns leader with 635 assists, but Kayla Brannon is right behind with 475. Tarleton State lost its season finale in a bit of an upset. The fire from that loss, paired with the depth on the roster, may help them surprise some people.

MORE: Regional rankings | AVCA rankings | DII volleyball news

DII Women’s Soccer Championship: Here are 6 teams to watch this postseason

(From NCAA.com, the full story can be read HERE)

The DII Women’s Soccer Championship bracket was released on Monday and the road to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania officially begins Nov. 8.

The bracket is full of regulars that should make their presence felt deep into the tournament. All eight teams from the 2017 quarterfinals — Central Missouri, Carson-Newman, Mercy, UC-Colorado Springs, West Chester, West Florida, Grand Valley State, and UC San Diego — return for another run at the national championship. Let’s take a look at a few other teams looking to leave their mark.

DII Women's Soccer Championship

Bloomsburg

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The Huskies return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010 on the heels of their first Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference title since 2002. Now, the Huskies are the No. 1 seed in their region, earning a bye while they await the winner of Millersburg and East Stroudsburg. While Bloomsburg defeated East Stroudsburg a second time for the PSAC title, Millersville handed the Huskies one of their two losses this season.

Bloomsburg doesn’t have a star scorer, getting it done with a group of players able to put it in the net. Midfielder Allie Barber leads the way with six goals but has plenty on the Bloomsburg attack to help. The spotlight will be on redshirt-sophomore keeper Jenna Hawkins, who led the PSAC in GAA this year with a microscopic 0.41 mark. She hopes to add a few more to her PSAC-best 12 shutouts before it’s all said and done.

Franklin Pierce

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Head coach Jonathan Garbar took over last year and the Ravens returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010. That was a long drought for Franklin Pierce, a team that went to 19-straight postseasons while winning five national championships —tied for the most ever — between 1992 and 2010. This time, the Ravens are the No. 1 seed and expectations are higher.

MORE: Programs with the most DII women’s soccer championships

The Ravens have a pair of prolific scorers to keep tabs on. Veronica Marques and Nathalia Maria da Silva are dangerous, combining for 27 goals in 18 games this season. Marques is versatile, able to dish it out with the best of them, her 10 assists tied for second in the Northeast-10. In net, freshman Casey Kane will have her first postseason run but showed more than capable this season posting eight shutouts in the Ravens 15-win season.

Central Oklahoma

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For the past eight consecutive seasons, Central Missouri reigned supreme in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. The Bronchos ended that run this year, behind a dominant 20-1 record. You can be sure all eyes will be upon them, as the Bronchos return to the tournament after a down 7-10-2 2017 season.

They certainly have plenty of weapons to make a deep run. Katie Killion led the division in scoring with an astounding 27 goals, but she also has Asha Haile on her side, who put in 15 goals herself. Taryn Kedzior — the MIAA Freshman of the Year — anchors one of the best defensive lines in DII women’s soccer, one that has allowed just seven goals all season. It won’t be easy, just to get to the quarterfinals there is a possible matchup with the defending national champions. But this is a Bronchos team that has already had a historic run to its first MIAA title, so why not add some more to the record books in November?

Angelo State

Who doesn’t like an underdog? The Rambelles made it to the postseason on the heels of an automatic qualifier, winning the program’s first-ever Lone Star Conference tournament. They knew the stakes were high then, and they delivered in an NCAA tournament tune-up.

MORE: Interactive bracket | Printable bracket

“This was the only way we were probably going to get in, so we had that in the back of our mind for the last couple of weeks,” Angelo State head soccer coach Travis McCorkle said. “The team is playing at a high level right now, and we’re excited to have another game.”

Offensively, Trenadey Scott leads the way, scoring 17 goals this season. The Belles are the sixth seed in the region and open against a UCCS team that made it to the program’s first national semifinals last year. The odds may be against them, but that’s what makes the postseason great.

First round game to watch: No. 3 Lander vs. No. 6 Lincoln Memorial

While Rockhurst is one of the feel-good stories of the tournament, reaching the postseason on the heels of its first-ever Great Lakes Valley Conference title in thrilling overtime fashion, it is the Lander/LMU matchup that gets the final nod.

Lander is making its first NCAA tournament appearance in the history of the program, coming off the best regular-season and conference finish ever. Lincoln Memorial earned its spot in the tournament by capturing its first South Atlantic Conference title since 2007. The Lady Railsplitters had to beat an extremely tough —and reigning national runners-up — Carson-Newman to do so. Whoever emerges from this match may have Cinderella written all over them.

MORE: DII women’s soccer news | History

DII men’s basketball: 5 takeaways from the SCB Hall of Fame Classic

(From NCAA.com; see the full article HERE)

The DII men’s basketball season kicked off this past weekend at the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. Former champions and tournament regulars tipped off the season in a two-day college basketball extravaganza.

Last year’s national champions, Ferris State, and defending runners-up, Northern State, were on hand as were the schools from the 2016 DII Men’s Basketball Championship title game. When the final whistle blew, two teams left St. Joseph, Missouri unscathed, ready to kick off their schedules a perfect 2-0.

Here are five takeaways from the Hall of Fame Classic.

MORE: NABC preseason poll

Northwest Missouri State opens 2-0 against DII basketball’s best

The Bearcats downed the 2018 national runners-up and defending national champions on consecutive days. Not bad for a team that lost its all-time leading scorer (Justin Pitts) to graduation.

Northwest Missouri State is alive and well, taking down Northern State 72-70 in an overtime thriller and then Ferris State 100-86 in an all-out 3-point assault. Despite losing some key pieces, the Bearcats are clearly ready to ball.

Bearcat Basketball@NWBearcatMBB

Joey Witthus, the Bearcats’ top returner, had a strong showing, scoring 15 and 17 respectively and pulling down 14 boards. Redshirt freshman Trevor Hudgins showed he may be the driving force in a Bearcats run this season, scoring 51 points in his first two games. He added 5.5 assists over the two games to earn MVP honors.

Watch out when the Bearcats get hot. They drained 10 straight 3-pointers to open things up against Ferris State. Northwest Missouri State finished the game 14-for-24 and showed that they are a dangerous team to watch this year.

Tarleton State opens up perfect

Tarleton State heads to the Texan Tip-Off Classic this weekend undefeated. That makes first-year head coach Chris Reisman perfect in his young career. While they have a bevy of people who can score, Josh Hawley played like a total beast.

Small College Basketball@smcollegehoops

Congratulations to the 2018 Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic Team

Shaun Willett, Queens

Daniel Carr, Queens

Josh Hawley, Tarleton State

Ian Smith, Northern State

Jason Jolly, Fairmont…

Hawley, known for his defensive prowess, was filling the stat sheet with points and rebounds this weekend. The junior forward is a perfect 2-for-2 in double-doubles, going for 12 and 14 in the opening two-point win over Missouri Western and then 22 and 13 in the 92-81 win over William Jewell. Hawley is definitely one to keep eyes on in Stephenville, Texas this season.

Northern State has a balanced attack once again

Last year, the Wolves made it all the way to the finals on the heels of a team that could hurt you in a few different ways. While Darin Peterka may have been the go-to scorer, that team was deep in players that can put it in the bucket. Nothing has changed in 2018.

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#GoWolves@WolvesAthletics

Though they dropped the opener to the Bearcats, Northern State fired back to take down a very tough Queens (N.C.) team 87-74. The Wolves got those 87 points behind six players dropping double-digits. Ian Smith is the star and can do everything well, going for 14 points, eight assists, and six rebounds in the victory, but he has a sound supporting cast. Parker Fox is one worth watching, making it to the free throw line 17 times over two days.

MORE: 11 impact players for the 2018-19 season

Queens should contend once again

Having Lincoln Memorial and Queens in the same league is a treat for South Atlantic Conference fans. The Royals lost a few pieces but showed there is still plenty in the tank for another big run.

The Charlotte Post@thecharpost

Shaun Willett is going to do great things this season. We know that because he already has. Willett left Missouri with a pair of double-doubles, scoring 19 points in each of Queens first two games while pulling down 29 total rebounds. Daniel Carr, whose primary role last year was as a key reserve like Willett, showed little trouble adjusting to the role of starter, scoring 35 points and dishing out 14 dimes. Mark your calendars. The Dec. 8 showdown against LMU in Charlotte is going to be a good one.

Missouri Western’s model of consistency

The Griffons fell one basket short of leaving the Hall of Fame Classic undefeated. It certainly wasn’t Lavon Hightower’s doing.

Griffon Athletics@gogriffons

Hightower, Missouri Western’s senior forward, exploded for 52 points, scoring 26 points in both the Griffons two-point loss and seven-point win. He also grabbed 16 rebounds over the weekend. That’s right, he grabbed eight in each game. His game was particularly helpful against Fairmont’s red-hot Jason Jolly who went for 30 in the Griffon’s victory. Missouri Western is certainly hoping he can keep up that consistency straight through March.

MORE: 2018 championship bracket | History

DII football: These are the best stats and numbers from Week 10

(From NCAA.com, view the full article HERE)

Three upsets in the top 15. A tremendous amount of rushing yards piled up on the ground. Two teams combining for over 1,300 yards. Conference titles decided.

Yes, indeed, it was just another wild weekend in DII football.

Let’s break down the box scores and look at what stood out in Week 10.

MORE: Week 9 AFCA poll takeaways | Regional rankings

The top 25 by the numbers for Week 10

2

Shutouts posted by the top 25, the same number as last week. For the second week in a row, No. 12 Colorado State-Pueblo’s defense posted a zero, blanking Black Hills State 59-0. No. 5 Minnesota Duluth also handed out a goose egg to Mary, defeating them in dominating 55-0 fashion.

3

Upsets in the top 15. No. 6 Colorado School of Mines nearly pulled off the comeback, but unranked Dixie State answered in the final minute of play to win 52-45. Fort Hays State made its case for the postseason, defeating No. 10 Northwest Missouri State by one point, 17-16. No. 25 Hillsdale upended No. 15 Tiffin 48-26, taking the Great Midwest Athletic Conference along the way.

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Hillsdale College Chargers@HCChargers

Three was also the number of running backs who eclipsed the 100-yard mark for No. 8 Tarleton State. Xavier Turner piled up 128 yards and three touchdowns, while Adam Berryman added 114 and three touchdowns with Daniel McCants putting up 107 yards and a touchdown of his own.

MORE: Best mascots and nicknames in DII sports

10

Weeks in a row where Ferris State’s Jayru Campbell has produced at least three touchdowns. For those keeping score at home, that’s every week this season. Campbell threw for 142 yards and two touchdowns this week while rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 40 total touchdowns on the season.

MORE: Best dual-threat quarterbacks in DII football

11

Teams that scored more than 40 points this week, the same exact number as last week. No. 19 Central Washington led the way with 74 points as the top 25 teams combined for 883 total points on the week. No. 22 Indiana (Pa.) had the lowest output, though it was still able to hold on 13-6 over Edinboro.

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23

Consecutive wins in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference for No. 1 Minnesota State. We’ll just leave this counter up until further notice. The Mustangs didn’t have it as easy this past week, taking down Sioux Falls, 31-21. The Cougars were the last NSIC team to defeat Minnesota State way back on October 29, 2016.

25-2

That’s the Bearcats’ record at home over the past four years, including a run of 21 straight games from the end of 2014 to the end of 2017. The only two losses have come by one-point each to Fort Hays State, this time the 17-16 grudge match.

MORE: Fort Hays State upsets No. 10 Northwest Missouri State, makes a postseason statement

514

Total rushing yards by Central Washington in its 74-28 victory over Southwest Baptist. Two running backs — Cedric Cooper (203) and Michael Roots (140) — broke the 100-yard mark, while quarterback Riley Hennessey chipped in 82 yards and running back Christian Cummings added another 61 to lead the attack. The four combined for nine touchdowns, with Cooper punching in four.

MORE: DII football’s most scenic stadiums

1,318

Combined total yards in Dixie State’s upset over No. 6 Colorado School of Mines. It comes one week after the Mines offense combined to put up 126 points, the most in a DII football game this season. The Trailblazers put up 692 yards, led by quarterback Michael Sanders’ 553-yard day. That set the school record, topping his own mark of 527 he set two weeks prior.

MORE: Dixie State stuns No. 6 Colorado School of Mines in an offensive explosion

Here is a position-by-position breakdown of this weekend’s standout performers in the top 25:

QUARTERBACKS

QUARTERBACK SCHOOL STATS
Nick Watson Tiffin 387 yards, 3 TD
Isaac Harker Colorado School of Mines 327 yards, 3 TD
Eric Nickel Kutztown 323 total yards, 5 total TD
Willie Candler West Georgia 307 yards, 2 TD
Layton Rabb MSU Texas 300 yards, 2 TD

 

RUNNING BACKS

RUNNING BACK SCHOOL STATS
Cameron Mayberry Colorado School of Mines 224 yards, 2 TD
Cedric Cooper Central Washington 203 yards, 4 TD
Ovie Urevbu Texas A&M-Commerce 195 yards
Michael Roots Central Washington 140 yards, 2 TD
Vincent Johnson MSU Texas 135 yards, 3 TD

 

MORE: Adam Thielen’s college numbers from Minnesota State

RECEIVERS

RECEIVER SCHOOL STATS
Marvell Ross Notre Dame (OH) 186 yards, 2 TD
Laperion Perry West Georgia 183 yards, 2 TD
Trey Brock Hillsdale 156 yards, 4 TD
Lex Rosario West Chester 121 yards, 1 TD
Malik Higgins Indianapolis 119 yards

Outside the top 25

Tired of hearing about Bowie State’s Amir Hall yet? Too bad, he’s done it again. Not only did he throw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, but he also threw for his 97th career touchdown, the all-time Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association record.

Slippery Rock’s Wes Hills ran for 207 yards this week. That’s three straight weeks with at least 200 yards, a span in which he’s also scored eight touchdowns for the red-hot Rock.

Virginia Union’s Tabyus Taylor and Sioux Falls Gabe Watson continue piling up touchdowns for the race to the most in DII football. Taylor scored two more on Saturday, giving him 19, but that still leaves him four behind Watson who also tacked on two more this past weekend against a very formidable Minnesota State defense.

MORE: The championship heads to Texas | Most DII titles

The Shorter Hawks Phil Taylor is making the most of second opportunity

Phil Taylor has not had your typical journey to the top of the college basketball world. The former Division I guard leads the NCAA in scoring, tops in all three divisions at 34.9 points a game. But he’s arrived there a little late, and mostly under the radar at Division II Shorter University in the small town of Rome, Georgia.

Read more on DII’s premier scorer Phil Taylor

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