Unbelievably, the South Region voter(s) ranked the Bisons ninth in the first regional rankings of the season, released just minutes ago. The rankings include games through Sunday, and at 4-3, Harding is the only 3-loss team (in South Region games) among the ten ranked.
1. Montevallo (GSC East)
2. Nova Southeastern (SSC)
3. Delta State (GSC West)
4. Arkansas-Monticello (GSC West)
5. Alabama-Huntsville (GSC East)
6. Lynn (SSC)
7. Tampa (SSC)
8. West Georgia (GSC East)
9. Harding (GSC West)
10. Benedict (SIAC)
So, if the tournament started tomorrow, West Georgia would be the last team out. The SIAC (like the SSC and GSC) gets an automatic bid, so Benedict would undeservingly take their place at #8. This actually isn’t as different from my rankings as I expected it might be, but I’ll run through some major differences.
The first obvious “problem” is that Harding is on the list to begin with. I ranked us #17 on my own list, and I imagine that the loss to UCA, regardless of how we do against Christian Brothers, will cost us a spot in next week’s rankings. Of course, we don’t belong on the list right now, but hopefully that will change.
Next, I thought Lynn was clearly the best team in the top-heavy SSC. They are 10-2 in region games, and even though they lost to UAM and Florida Gulf Coast, they were looking strong with a 4-0 start in conference play. I had Nova Southeastern #9, which in retrospect was a bit low, but the #2 spot they got seems too high, especially given the way Delta State has been playing. NSU has played a better schedule than many of the SSC teams, which might have helped them out a bit.
Eckerd appeared to deserve a spot on the list with an 8-2 record, and I thought they would get it despite a weak schedule. They’re off to a rough 2-2 start in the SSC, though, and most of those in-region games were against poor independent teams like Palm Beach Atlantic and the schools from Puerto Rico.
I don’t have a problem with the rest of the list, especially since Harding somehow made it. It was also nice to see that the voters are aware of the poor quality of the SIAC, awarding Benedict (8-0 in-conference) the token 10th spot in the rankings. There will probably be a few shakeups next week, since HU and West Georgia have already lost this week. I would look for Florida Gulf Coast, North Alabama, Eckerd, and Florida Southern to be possible replacements.