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2017 NCAA Division II Basketball Tournament Preview

The 2017 NCAA Division II Basketball Tournament is set to tip off on March 10. While division II basketball is overshadowed by the powerhouse schools of division I, it still provides high scoring and exciting basketball action. The 64 teams will compete in 8 regions, with the elite 8 being reseeded to start the finals. All teams have been seeded, brackets are set, and teams are ready to go. You can view the bracket and even watch all the action at the NCAA website. Here’s a preview of each team and what to watch for.

Atlantic Regional

Front Runners: Fairmont State is the top seed and is averaging 97 ppg. The Falcons have also scored over 100 points twelve times this season. Shippensburg isn’t as high scoring as many teams in this region, they’ll rely on defense to capitalize on lower scoring games. West Liberty fell short in the finals two years ago and they are ready to make a run again. They gave the second best scoring offense in the NCAA and also handed Fairmont State their only two losses this season. 

Middle Tier: Indiana (PA) is another team that will rely on defense to advance allowing on 67.3 ppg. Kutztown will try to keep the points flowing with an NCAA ninth best 89.5 ppg. Wheeling Jesuit is no stranger playing the top seeds losing very close games. Look for a shootout as they average 87.8 ppg. 

Bracket Busters: Virginia Union will need to keep opponents under 75 points to have a shot at advancing. Bowie State can play teams close, but looks like they will need a miracle to make it to the next round.

Central Regional:

Front Runners: Northwest Missouri State are the bad boys on the block. Their 62.1 opponents ppg. is second best in the NCAA and they can score at will. Especially with the three shooting an NCAA best 43.3% from the outside. Southwest Minnesota State can hang with the best, but only in shootouts. They will struggle in low scoring games. East Central always seems to find a way to win. A strong inside game will help. 

Middle Tier: Arkansas-Monticello struggled late in the season and will have to regain their composure if they want to compete. Augustana (SD)  could be a surprise in this region. Watch the turnover differential with them. Minnesota State Moorhead has to finish strong late in the game if they’re going to advance. They haven’t fared well against stronger teams this season.

Bracket Busters: Arkansas Tech has had a few upsets this season. Tight defense could provide another. Upper Iowa has also had several upset wins this season. Consistency has been an issue, but they’re very capable of beating the top seeds in the region.

East Regional: 

Front Runners: Le Moyne is very good defensively, but that defense falls apart against tougher opponents. They are the most vulnerable number one seed in the tourney. Southern New Hampshire is as solid as they come. They’ll have a good chance to advance if they can avoid a shootout. Saint Rose will rely on forcing turnovers and a slow pace as their strategy. 

Middle Tier: St. Anselm has won 14 of their last 16 game due to their balanced attack. The first round could be their hardest though. St. Thomas Aquinas has a lot of firepower on offense and could be a headache in the region. Watch for Bloomfield to make a push. They’re a solid team who can keep any game close.

Bracket Busters: Southern Connecticut State seems to be overmatched in this region. They’ll need a lot of magic to survive. If Merrimack can be as good offensively as they are on defense, an upset could be in the making.

Midwest Regional:

Front Runners: Bellarmine has won 15 straight games thanks to a defense that ranks 9th in the NCAA and they show no signs of slowing down. Ferris State also has a nice wining streak going and will put a lot of points on the board. They’re 5-0 when scoring over 100. If Southern Indiana can avoid turnovers, they could turn out to surprise a few teams. 

Middle Tier: Kentucky Wesleyan will make any opposing coach nervous. They have won 26 straight games and plays great on both sides of the ball. How they ended up as a 4th seed, baffles me. This team could make a strong run to the Elite Eight. Quincy will have probably the toughest road to the Elite Eight. They’re good, but received a bad draw in this year’s regional. Findlay Should show solid  gameplay and a good field goal percentage to carry this team into the the second round. Truman has a good defense and has played some very close games with top schools. They even beat Bellarmine earlier in the season. They live and die by the three. If it’s on, watch out. 

South Regional:

Front Runners: Alabama-Huntsville is a team that performs very well under pressure. They’re shooting 41.6% from three point range and late game clutch performances make them dangerous. Valdosta State averages 88.7 ppg and that offense could carry them far in the tournament. Delta State relies on a physical inside game to score points. They’ll wear teams down with what strategy.

Middle Tier: Barry is averaging a sixth best in NCAA 92.3 ppg and is shooting 41% from outside the arc. Solid defensive play is needed for them to make a run. Eckerd has won a bunch of games this year, but didn’t necessarily have a quality win. They need to prove they can win against top competition. Christian Brothers a balanced team who is very capable of knocking off the higher seeds. They have a couple of times this season already.

Bracket Busters: Rollins has played good defense to go on an eight game winning streak. Even beating some top teams in that stretch. Clark-Atlanta looks to be overmatched in this regional, but they can score a lot and could possibly squeeze one if it’s close late in the game

Southeast Regional:

Front Runners: Queens (NC) is the top dog and for good reason. Their strong defensive play led them to a 28-3 record. Lincoln Memorial will make a huge push with their offense, but they have to average 85 ppg to even have a shot. They struggle in close lower scoring games. UNC-Pembroke isn’t flashy, but they always find a way to win. They have good depth and consistency has proven to pay off. 

Middle Tier: Columbus State is another team that plays solid on both sides, but they give up too many late runs in games. Augusta will be looking for revenge on Columbus State in the first round. Overall, they need to shoot better from the field. Limestone will struggle in this region. They’re best bet is to keep the game from being a shootout.

Bracket Busters: Pfeiffer leads the NCAA in scoring offense with 104.9 ppg. They have scored triple digits eighteen times this season and are undefeated when reaching 100 points. They could be a favorite among upsets. Wingate could be another favorite for a first round upset. They may be the only number eight seed happy with their draw as they’ve already beat Queens twice already this season.

South Central Regional: 

Front Runners: Colorado Mines is favored to win it all by many. They’re defense is tough, but will be tested as they haven’t played a high scoring offense this season. Texas-Permian Basin will be a challenge to stop offensively as they average 88.8 ppg. West Texas A&M has to play strong early in the game. They give up leads early and have struggled to make a comeback.

Middle Tier: Tarleton State is counting on a defense that gives up only 66 ppg. to help them advance. Fort Lewis will have trouble from the start unless they can put up 90 points or more, which is doubtful, but possible. Texas A&M-Commerce will have to pull off an almost miracle to advance. 

Bracket Busters: Texas A&M-Kingsville has the defense to contend, but needs to provide more offense for that to happen. If they can, watch for an exciting finish. Arkansas-Fort Smith is undermatched in this region and will need to capitalize on a poor performance by opposing teams to advance.

West Regional:

Front Runners: UC-San Diego has all the tools to make it to the finals this year. They have some of the best depth in the tournament and knows how to manage that depth. Their defense can shut down any offense in this region. Hawaii-Pacific will challenge San Diego in this region with stellar time management skills along with being balanced on offense and defense. Western Washington had one of the weaker schedules of all the teams in the region they’ll be on upset alert.

Middle Tier: Cal Baptist plays good enough defense to make a strong run this year as they allow 69.3 ppg. San Francisco State is another good team defensively, but suspect offense will probably send them home early. Chico State will rely on low scoring games to make their way through the region. Look for a lot of defensive pressure early in games.

Bracket Busters: Sonoma State has the best defense in the NCAA just giving up 57.2 ppg. A low scoring offense will keep them from making a run though. Dixie State is just too weak to make a push in this region. They just can’t hang with high powered offenses.

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