The latest NABC/Division II rankings are out and the Great Lakes Valley Conference has five schools among the top 25 — Bellarmine at No. 5 (no change from last week), USI at No. 7 (no change from last week), Kentucky Wesleyan at No. 13, University of Indianapolis at No. 14 and Drury at No. 19. No other conference has that many teams in the poll. Quoting from the GLVC release: “The Great Northwest Athletic Conference follows with three teams rated in the top 25. Additionally, the GLVC is the only conference with four teams ranked in the top 15 and one of three conferences (GNAC, MIAA) to have a pair of top-10 programs.”
By the way, remember when I wrote about Maryville a week ago Monday? The Saints are now 8-1, with a 72-65, overtime victory over the University of Missouri-St. Louis in its conference opener last week. Also recall that UMSL was predicted to be one of the GLVC’s best teams this season (and may yet become one). Maryville is now receiving votes in the poll, although it has not been ranked.
What all this means, of course, is that everyone in the GLVC is going to beat up on everyone else. But the competition, if it doesn’t wear everyone out, should make the teams that advance in the NCAA II Tournament a handful for any non-GLVC opponents. There’s just one problem: only one GLVC team will be able to advance past the regional round of the national tourney. Unlike Division I, teams are sorted into regions to keep travel costs down. That means there could be several GLVC teams given berths in the Midwest Regional. This is why it’s possible that GLVC squads can play each other four times in one season: two times during the regular season, once in the conference tourney and once in the regional tourney.
Yes, it’s stupid. But Division II is not Division I; Division II is all about NOT spending money. USI fans need to keep that in mind. Unless Division II teams suddenly start attracting crowds over 10,000 to every game (most schools are lucky to get 500 people to a game, which makes USI and its crowds of over 2,000 fans highly unusual), this system is not going to change anytime soon, if ever.