ST. CLOUD, MN – The NCAA has released the teams that will participate in the 2016 NCAA II tournament during its Selection Show on may 15, 2016. There are eight regions in the NCAA II, and the winner of each regional tournament will go on to the College World Series, in Cary, North Carolina.
For the Central Region Tournament, the eight teams that earned bids (either through winning their conference tournament or being selected by the NCAA committee) are (in order of seeding):
- St. Cloud State Huskies (35-8)
- Central Missouri Mules (38-13)
- Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (39-14)
- Arkansas – Monticello Boll Weevils (35-14)
- Missouri Western State Griffons (38-18)
- Emporia State Hornets (37-17)
- Southwestern Oklahoma State Bulldogs (33-15)
- Minnesota State Mavericks (33-16)
As far as we here at D2 Baseball News are concerned, the 2-8 spots are wide open. Anyone of these can come out and end up in the championship game at the end of the Central Region Tournament. And as we know, the best team doesnt always make it out of the regional tournaments…as has been seen in past years with upsets.
St. Cloud State Huskies have done what we expected before the year even began. We picked them to finish the year as the First Seed in the Central Region, and they did not disappoint. This team is going to be hard to bet against in this tournament.
The Central Missouri Mules are no stranger to the post season, or making deep runs. And the Mules seem solid across the board, offensively and defensively. If the Huskies stumble, it is a good chance it will be at the hands of Central Missouri.
To be frank, the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs were not on our radar at the beginning of the 2016 season…yet here they are. And as we watched the season progress, they earned more and more of our respect. While we still don’t YET see them in Cary…the Bulldogs seem to be on a run that may prove us wrong about them again.
And another of the surprises (but less so) is the Arkansas – Monticello Boll Weevils. Some of us here saw them as a possible sleeper when we did our preseason analysis. Those that did, were proven correct. If the Boll Weevils can step up their game and take it to the teams that have been here before…they still may be the sleeper here.
Another team that had a very good season but was ignored by most of the baseball community (including us, unfortunately) for most of the year was the Missouri Western State Griffons. They not only had a good regular season, but made it to the MIAA finals, only to lose and offensive showcase game to Central Missouri, 16-14. There is a tough road ahead this week for the Griffons. We will see if they are up to this challenge.
The Emporia State Hornets were on our short list for the Central Region right from the start, so it does not surprise us they are here now. They had some points during the season where they stumbled a bit, causing them to move up and down the rankings. We still hold that the Hornets have the pieces in place to make a run here. If they can lock everything in and maintain their effort as a team, they may be one of the lowest seeds to make it to Cary.
The Southwestern Oklahoma State Bulldogs made it to the Central Region Tournament mostly because of a good regular season record, and some series wins with good clubs. That being said, they went two and out on the GAC tournament. We are not at the point where we believe the Bulldogs can make it through this region unscathed…but we will be watching.
The Minnesota State Mavericks, a team we ranked highly at the beginning of the year, had several rough runs and fell back in almost every poll. Like Emporia State, we still believe the Mavericks have in place what is needed to make a run. And if they can get things clicking, they may be the only 8th seed in the country we believe actually has a legitimate shot at Cary.
There is a reason there are #1 seeds. Usually, they earned it…and as a result, the top seed gets advantages like byes or playing the bottom seeds. The object of any tournament is to have the best team finish on top. The Central Region host St. Cloud State Huskies have been in the Top 5 of the national rankings all year and have shown very little ability to be tripped up. Our call is they won’t be here either.
Click HERE for all tournament brackets & schedules