When it comes to the Division-II basketball tournament, there are no breathers for anyone looking to win a national championship. Before teams even get a chance to battle the best teams from around the country, they first must escape from regions which are typically full of familiar faces. What the Division II setup provides is a different look at March Madness.
The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament will send schools and players to different regional sites all around the country for their postseason games. The Division II tournament, on the other hand, is much more personal for the first few rounds.
Teams are placed in regions usually based on location, forcing schools to battle through their own conference to get to the Divison-II Sweet 16. That setup gives the Division II postseason basketball a more intense, personal field.
Here’s a look at why this tournament is worth watching if you need more basketball in your life between the Men's and Women's NCAA Tournaments.
How are the Division-II Tournament regions divided?
The NCAA Division II field is split into eight regions: the Atlantic, Central, East, Midwest, South, South Central, Southeast and West. There are at-most three conferences placed into each region that receive automatic bids, while independent teams within that coverage area are included as well. Independent schools don’t earn automatic bids.
The South Central Region is made up of two conferences: the Lone Star Conference and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
How many teams reach the Division-II Men's Basketball tournament?
There are 64 teams chosen to compete in the tournament. Some of these teams receive automatic bids for winning their respective conferences, similar to the Division-I tournament, while some are chosen by a committee based on their performance in the regular season and their strength of schedule.
There are 23 automatic bids handed out in the Division-II Men's Tournament and 41 teams that are invited as at-large bids.
How are the at-large bids determined for the Division-II Men's Basketball Tournament?
At the Division II level, all teams that qualify for the postseason tournament have to win at least half of their games in the regular (or have a record of at least .500 on the season). Also, Division II teams must have also competed against at least 22 other Division II programs during the regular season to be eligible.
The committee then looks at the following items:
- Winning percentage in-region
- Winning percentage against Division-II opponents
- Head-to-head wins and losses against Division-II opponents
- Results against common opponents
- RPI ( or Ratings Power Index compiled from a team's winning percentage, average opponent's winning percentage and average opponent's opponent's winning percentage)
- Performance indicator
- Record vs. ranked teams
What is the most exciting region in the 2022 Divison-II Men's Basketball Tournament?
The Atlantic Region offers a sharp contrast in styles.
West Liberty (W.Va.) has been one of the top programs in the country. The Hilltoppers have gone to nine of the last eleven Sweet Sixteens, made six trips to the Elite Eight and played in the Final Four three times. West Liberty is known for its up-tempo style of basketball and lead Division II in scoring for the 2021-22 season by averaging 100 points per game.
Even with all of these accolades, the Hilltoppers are the second seed in their region. Fellow regional power Indiana (Pa.) is the top seed and is among the best defensive teams in the country, ranking sixth in scoring defense by limiting opponents to 62.6 points per game. The Crimson Hawks are one of four teams from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference to be selected for the regional.
Sixth-seeded Fairmont State, which is in the Mountain East conference with West Liberty, is also a top-scoring team nationally, ranking 10th by scoring 87.4 points per game.
Can Northwest Missouri State repeat as Division-II basketball champions?
Northwest Missouri State is the No. 3 seed in the Central Region, but won’t be a team anyone in that region takes lightly. The defending Division-II National Champion Bearcats won their final five games of the season to win the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association title. Northwest Missouri State, which is also a football powerhouse, has won the basketball championship in 2017, 2019 and 2021.
This year’s team is 28-5 heading into the tournament and will be a stiff challenge for anyone who opposes them.