First NCAA South Region Rankings Released; Mocs Hold Key Spot at #6
The first NCAA regional rankings are out and Florida Southern is listed at #6 in the October 17 South Region poll used to determine postseason bids. The University of West Florida is #1, followed by Rollins, Tampa, Florida Tech and Valdosta State.
On November 5, six teams will be selected to play in the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament, which begins on Friday, November 9. The league champions from both the Sunshine State Conference and the Gulf South Conference receive automatic bids, with the other four spots going to at-large selections. The SSC and the GSC determine their automatic qualifier in postseason conference tournaments.
West Florida holds the top position with a 13-1 record that includes wins over Florida Southern, Rollins and Valdosta State, as well as the #7 team in the South Region rankings, North Alabama. The Argonauts’ only loss this year came to the #1 team in the Southeast Region, Armstrong Atlantic. They still have four regular season games remaining before hosting the GSC Tournament in Pensacola, beginning November 1.
Rollins, which is on a 7-game unbeaten streak, is #2 in the region with an 8-4-1 record. The Tars have beaten the Moccasins once in a non-conference game in September (1-0), have a conference win over Tampa (1-0) and a non-conference tie with the Spartans (0-0) as well. They also defeated Florida Tech 1-0.
Tampa, which is 11-3-2, has the loss and tie with Rollins, but a 4-1 win over Florida Tech to its credit. The Spartans also lost to Florida Tech in a non-conference match.
Florida Tech is 6-4-2 and holds the #4 position in the rankings despite an up-and-down season to this point. The Panthers opened the year with four wins in their first five games, including the 1-0 non-conference win over Tampa, but have gone 2-3-2 since then. They do, however, hold a 2-0 win over Florida Southern.
Valdosta State, which is only in its second year as a program, is 10-2-2 and coming off a 1-0 loss at West Florida. The #5 Blazers’ only other loss came to North Alabama, 4-3, in mid-September. Valdosta State has not played any team from the Sunshine State Conference, however, and their only comparable results other than West Florida have come against Anderson (SC), who they beat 4-2, and Palm Beach Atlantic, who they beat 1-0.
Ranked #6, Florida Southern was 5-5-2 at the time of the ranking, but is 4-1-1 in its last six games, with the only loss coming to Florida Tech. The Moccasins are also helped by their strength of schedule, which includes non-conference games against Columbus State (ranked #2 in the Southeast), North Georgia (ranked #6 in the Southeast) and West Florida. The Mocs have also played a non-conference game against Rollins.
The Moccasins have a chance to help themselves tremendously over the next two weeks. After their Wednesday night game at Barry, the Mocs will host Tampa on Saturday, and end the regular season with road games at Eckerd and Rollins. They’ll likely also qualify for the SSC Tournament, which begins on Tuesday, October 30.
North Alabama, ranked #7 in the region, is 7-4-1, but the Lions have lost three straight, including 6-1 and 2-1 losses to Georgia College and Columbus State outside the GSC. They have a 4-3 win over Valdosta State, but lost to West Florida 4-1, and have not played any schools from the Sunshine State Conference.
Palm Beach Atlantic and Alabama-Huntsville complete the South Region rankings at #8 and #9 respectively. PBA is a Division II independent and 6-3 on the season. The Sailfish have lost their only two games against the SSC this year (to Barry and Tampa), and also have a lost to Valdosta State. Alabama-Huntsville is 8-8, and winners of three straight. Similar to Valdosta State and North Alabama, the Chargers have not played any team from the SSC this year.
Regional bids will be extended on Monday, November 5, with six teams from each of the eight regions selected to play in their respective regional tournaments across the country. The South Region Tournament is scheduled for Friday, November 9 and Sunday, 11, with three teams playing at two different sites. The two surviving teams will then meet in the regional championship game on November 16, to be played at the highest remaining seed. The NCAA quarterfinals follow on Sunday, November 18, with the South Region champion facing the winner of the Southeast Region.
The national semifinals and championship game will be played November 29 and December 1 in Evans, Georgia.