It’s NCAA DII tournament time. The DII men’s basketball championship begins at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 16. We got the action started by picking our bracket.
Since the eight teams that advance through the regional tournaments to Evansville, Indiana for the Elite Eight are reseeded, we are only picking the first three rounds. Don’t worry, we’ll revisit the Elite Eight when we get there and see how well we did, or did not, do.
It wasn’t easy. As we all know, anything can happen with the zaniness of March. So we took a look at brackets dating back to 2012 to see if we could find some patterns or trends to help us decide.
Trust the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds
If you picked your bracket and see an abundance of No. 1 seeds in the Elite Eight, don’t panic. History shows us that’s how is usually turns out. Here, see for yourself:
|Seed||Appearances in Elite Eight||Percentage|
In 2012 and 2013, it simply wasn’t fair to be anything below a two seed. Thirteen No. 1 seeds and three No. 2s made up the Elite Eight in those two seasons, but since then other seeds have begun to find their ways in. This doesn’t mean the Nos. 7 and 8 seeds don’t pull off upsets — which we can look at in a bit — but it does mean they are often early on, and the top seeds are selected that way for a reason.
A conference breakdown of the last seven Elite Eights
Stuck between a Great Northwest Athletic Conference team or a PacWest team? Maybe looking at which conferences are more successful near the end of March could help.
|Elite Eight appearances||Conference|
|5||GLVC, MEC/WVIAC, SSC|
|4||LSC, NSIC, RMAC|
|3||GNAC, PBC, SAC|
|2||CCAA, GLIAC, MIAA, PacWest, PSAC|
|1||CC, ECC, GSC, SIAC|
Have you picked a Northeast-10 school to the Elite Eight? It sure looks like you should. Only the 2017 St. Thomas Aquinas East Coast Conference team was able to crack the NE10 code the past few seasons. Lucky for you, both the No. 1 and No. 2 seed — Saint Anselm and Merrimack — are NE10 programs.
We combined the WVIAC and Mountain East since they essentially merged, but you should keep an eye on the high-scoring teams of the MEC as well as the Great Lakes Valley and Sunshine State Conferences. High-flying West Liberty of the MEC is a two seed in the Atlantic, while Nova Southeastern, Florida Southern, and Lynn are the Nos. 1-3 seeds in the South. Both Lewis and Bellarmine are top seeds in the Midwest and the two programs hail from the highly successful GLVC.
This is no exact science, but history is often a reliable factor. There are some circumstances in which you should always take into account. Take for example the South Atlantic Conference. It has only sent three schools to the Elite Eight in the past seven years, however, it has been the last three years in a row. Perhaps that makes Queens (NC) is the No. 1 to advance out of the Southeast.
A look at No. 8 vs. No. 1 upsets
These happen more often than you think. So often, in fact, we suggest picking one on your bracket. Maybe even two.
None was bigger in the grand scheme of things than No. 8 Tuskegee. The Golden Tigers upset the No. 1 Florida Southern Mocs in the first round of the 2014 tournament and rolled all the way to the Elite Eight, which we’ve already discussed is a difficult task in itself.
The past three seasons have seen six No. 8 over No. 1 upsets, with two of those coming last season. One of those matchups — No. 1 Northwest Missouri State vs. No. 8 Minnesota State — is set up for a rematch this year. Times are different, and while that Bearcats team was good, this one is undefeated, and probably not the right choice this year.
UNDEFEATED WATCH: What’s left for the Bearcats
So which No. 1 seeds should you be wary of? Saint Anselm is a very good team with one of the best scorers (Tim Guers) in the land. But No. 8 Molloy played its way into its first-ever NCAA tournament after winning its first-ever ECC title. That’s the kind of team that loves to see if the glass slipper will fit. Lewis is enjoying a dream season, but that Midwest Region is always tricky, especially with a tournament-experienced Bellarmine lurking. Grand Valley State is certainly a formidable No. 8 opponent that the Flyers should be on watch.
One matchup up to watch is in the South. Nova Southeastern turned around its program quickly, but will tournament inexperience hurt them? The Sharks have the No. 2 offense in DII basketball but are facing a No. 8 Miles team with the top scoring defense in the division.
— NCAA Division II (@NCAADII) March 11, 2019
So, who did we pick? We went with four No. 1 seeds, three No. 2s and a No. 3. We also chose two No. 8 vs. No. 1 upsets, and fully expect this bracket to be broken by the second round. But that’s what makes March fun, right?
Here is our bracket (you can click or tap here to open it in another window):